|PULP FICTION (1994)|
Samuel L. Jackson
|"If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions."|
|Time: 127 mins.|
Official Web Site
Won Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Nominated for Best Actor, Director, Film Editing, Picture, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress.
I was one of those people who loved PULP FICTION when it was originally released and horrified when it lost the Best Picture Oscar to FORREST GUMP, which didn't really impress me upon first viewing. I can now understand why GUMP won and am merely pleased that PULP got Academy attention at all. Rewatching it for the first time on DVD, I can understand why the voters got all freaked out. This is not an easy story to watch, though it does have its highly amusing points.
PULP FICTION contains some really freaky stuff, things most people have never experienced, never mind even want to think about. What saves it and makes it brilliant is the characters and the writing. It may be a film about drugs, thugs and sodomy, but the dialogue coming out of these degenerates mouths is pure movie magic. Some of it may seem a little contrived, but it's all interesting. Plus, he has it spoken by some of the best actors around. The cast is outstanding, each making the most of their roles. None of them is the star of the film, but they all give stand out performances.
The plot of the film unfolds in a three part structure, weaving characters in and out, pushing some into the background, bringing some to center stage. The action unfolds over several days, starting in a diner with a pair of lowlife robbers (played by Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth) deciding on their next hit. It then moves to follow the days events of Jules (Jackson) and Vincent (Travolta), a couple of hitmen who work for a local heavy named Marcellus Wallace (Rhames). It is their job to retrieve a suitcase for Marcellus from some business associates that didn't keep up their end of the bargain.
What begins as a simple job, becomes quickly complicated leaving behind a big mess they are unable to handle on their own. They eventually return the package to Marcellus, but not before Jules has an epiphany about his life. He will no longer be a hitman. He wants to wander the Earth, taking life as it comes. Vincent is disgusted with his new life path. Unfortunately for him, if he'd listened to Jules, in the end, his future would have turned out quite differently. Though Vincent does have other things on his mind. He's supposed to take out Marcellus's wife Mia (Thurman) and show her a good time. Merely a platonic thing. However, it's rumored the last time someone engaged Mia platonically, they ended up thrown out of a 4th story window. Needless to say, they have a memorable time, one neither of them, or you, will forget.
Meanwhile, Butch (Willis), an over-the-hill boxer, has troubles of his own. He was supposed to throw a fight for Marcellus, but decides to take a different course of action that highly displeases his boss. He eventually gets away with it, with Marcellus's blessing, but not before being an unwilling participant in the most horrifying situation a man can find himself in. All because of his father's watch, a family heirloom he just couldn't leave behind. The film circles back to the diner robbers who wind up gun to gun with Jules and Vincent. Jules has worked too hard to retrieve Marcellus's case to just hand it over to common thugs. If he doesn't complete this job, he'll never be free of his career. It's obvious that whatever's inside the case is extremely valuable, what's clever about the film is the audience never finds out what it is. In the end, it's unimportant, sort of the film's Macguffin if you will. It's merely the set piece that sends everything into motion, gives the characters their motivation.
Though the performances and editing are incredible, what makes PULP FICTION stand above over films is the dialogue. The screenplay won the Oscar because of the film's unique and stylish writing. It keeps you intrigued and interested in people most of us would rather not associate with and certainly not care about. The conversations between Vincent and Jules are pure cinema gold and worth the price of admission. They run the gamut from the names of fast food in Europe to the impropriety of foot massages, to what constitutes a miracle in everyday life. Each character has their own way of speaking, their own rhythm, though it all blends seamlessly together. Music also plays a huge part in this film. From it's classic R&B hits to the driving instrumentals, the soundtrack becomes another character, perfectly setting the proper mood and sentiment. It's definitely one for your movie music collection.
PULP FICTION is not a film for everyone, but if you're willing to go in with an open mind, I'm sure you'll come out the other side thrilled by this cinematic adventure. It takes filmmaking to a whole different level.