Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis
Have I Seen it Before: I’m a pop culture junkie who grew up in the 90s. Had I not seen the film, it’d be sort of like a Catholic not know the catechism.
Did I Like It: Let’s put it this way: I made the fewest notes for this film of all of the reviews I have written.
Could anyone—and I do mean anyone—construct a screenplay like Tarantino did for this movie, and not have it be immediately dismissed as confusing pile of racist, self-referential garbage? I think one need only look at some of the other films that cropped up in the grunge-adjacent independent scene around it—Kevin Smith’s Clerks (1994) comes chiefly to mind—or the other fragmented crime movies that launched in its wake—Suicide Kings (1997), a film I only have the faintest memories of loathing, comes to mind in that category—to realize that no, you cannot simply reverse engineer the deft touch that Tarantino has brought to each of his films.
Pulp Fiction is a film that beggars belief. It shouldn’t be, and yet it is. Even those who might detract from it in the past (it has certainly aged better than some of the above mentioned contemporaries), complaining that it is too lurid, or too violent for its own good seem to miss the point. Yes, there might not be a film in all of creation that shows drug use so lovingly as this does, but it also, with the OD of Mia (Thurman) brings it all back down to Earth. Drugs are bad, mmmkay? So, too, is it with the violence. When people are killed, yes the carnage is vivid, but the violence is either integral to the plot or given its proper weight under the circumstances. Mr. Wolf’s appearance in the film if Marvin (Phil LaMarr) didn’t have his little accident? I’m also often struck by the awful, real toll of the gunplay between Marsellus (Ving Rhames) and Butch (Willis) before they run afoul of Zed (Peter Greene) and company. Anyone who accuses Tarantino of glibness is focusing too much on the cheeseburgers and the foot rubs, if you ask me.
As I said above, my thoughts on the film are ultimately rather few. It is the superlative entry of its time and place, and if you haven’t watched it, well then you’re just… Where’s Uma Thurman when you need her to draw a square for you?