Sunday, June 20, 2010

No. 95: Pulp Fiction

Blood splatters the back seat of a car. Brains land in Samuel L. Jackson’s hair. And, you start…laughing? That's what happens when you watch Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. It’s a weird phenomenon, and I assumed it wouldn't be my thing. Well, that’s not true. I know I said I was terrified of this movie, and for some of it, I was. But to my eternal surprise, I really, really liked it.

The gratuitous violence and constant swearing are unavoidable - but once you get past it, and focus more on the characters and their quirky stories, you'll enjoy the movie. I'm not sure I'd recommend it to everyone, because Pulp Fiction is an acquired taste. But there are so many cool things about it, and if you don't mind the gore, you should check it out.

Pulp Fiction features four main stories that eventually intersect. The movie zig-zags around Los Angeles, following shady characters like Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson), hired killers with a passion for guns, drugs and burgers. We also see Mia Wallace (Thurman) snort and O.D. on heroin, a bizarre couple's attempt to hold up a diner, an aging prizefighter obsessed with a family heirloom, and a couple of psycho pawnshop owners with some pretty crazy stuff in their basement. While the stories don’t sound similar, they all connect in some way. Trust me - it makes sense after you watch it.

Now, there’s something you should all understand. I’m not a big fan of violent movies, at all. I like comedies. I like Aladdin. Not exactly splattering brains. But I somehow managed to enjoy Pulp Fiction. How? Maybe because Tarantino balances the violence with just the right blend of actors, characters, and humor. I mean, this movie is absolutely hilarious! So many exchanges are just classic, especially between Travolta and Jackson. All the characters in the movie were perfectly cast, and they all have great timing. So maybe that’s why?

In short, if you like:

* Splattering blood

* All sorts of weaponry

* Samuel L. Jackson with an Afro

* John Travolta dancing (but not like nice Danny Zuko in Grease)

* Amazing, graphic camera work

* Hilarious and quotable dialogue

…then you’ll like Pulp Fiction. I know I did. Still, I can’t recommend it for everyone without a label: "Warning: Pretty Freaky." But good freaky.

Next up: No. 94, Goodfellas (1990) – a bloody Scorsese classic. Jeez, they really pile on the blood movies all at once, don’t they? The AFI couldn’t have given me say, a musical or a comedy? Oh well. Stick around and read about it!


  1. That's exactly how I feel about this one, Josie -- I don't like bloody movies at all (could barely get through The Godfather, which I know is a top 5 classic), but when it's leavened with a lot of humor, I don't mind it nearly so much.

  2. Wow Josie, I love this. It's a tough film but a pretty brilliant one too. Great review!

    Miss W

  3. One reason it works is that it's more than just swearing and violence. At the heart of it all, there's a story of redemption and spiritual growth. Jules and Butch both realize that they're better people than they imagined themselves to be. Despite the context - or perhaps because of it - the moment when Butch realizes that he's going to go back down into that basement is exhilarating. And his choice to use the sword rather than the chainsaw shows his realization that he wants to be a hero, not just a bringer of death.

  4. "A royale with cheese"! Great dialogue between Jules and Vincent, two working class buddies who happen to be... hit men. There's a deliberate shock value to the film. It works.

    As always, another well-written review!

  5. Well now, this is a pleasant surprise. Another person in my age group who has watched and enjoyed Pulp Fiction? What means of sorcery be this?

    In all seriousness though, it really is nice to see someone else from my generation who isn't all caught up in the shallow, poorly made drivel that appears to have flooded the movie industry lately. (I'm looking at YOU Micheal Bay!) Your reviews are well written and clever, and I will most certainly be stopping in to see the rest of the list.

  6. Oh yes! I'm right there with you on the no blood splatter...but, I also loved Pulp Fiction! I just couldn't NOT watch it. Great review -- makes me wan to watch it again.
    Thank You!

  7. Tarantino's best movie. As you say, the casting was perfect. Great review, Josie!

  8. I've been meaning to watch this movie, and now a might just have to!