Pulp Fiction

Reviewed By Chef ADogg
Posted 08/21/99 10:44:57

"So good, even Spike Lee didn't complain about it."
5 stars (Awesome)

"Pulp Fiction" rocks my world like no other movie. Made on a shoestring, with a cast full of almost-hips and indie stars, and directed by a man whose sole experience behind the camera was a hundred minute blood, guts, and profanity festival about racist gangstas, it overcomes all odds to become both an artistic triumph and the most badass movie of the nineties.

"Pulp Fiction" is the ultimate art house movie because it lacks all standard arthouse pretension--the fucked up narrative acts a middle finger to conventional filmmaking, rather than an attempt at groundbreaking cinema; the characters, portrayed in a lovingly grungy light, are profanity spewing junkies and philosophical hitmen; and the film is helmed by a b-movie loving social reject. Talk about cred.

Seedy and irreverent in all the right ways, "Pulp Fiction" is a sweaty ode to five dollar milkshakes and badmuthafuckas, and also a tender look at familial ties in the criminal underground. For all the swearing and bloodletting, there's a rough sweetness to the scenes between Butch and Fabienne; the moment when Mia Wallace finally tells her dreadful joke is utterly heartbreaking in its hushed sincerity; and Samuel L. Jackson's sudden conversion rings out with authority, reality, and divine spirituality.

"PF" works so well because as the dialogue is knocking around in your head, the film itself goes for your heart. There are basically two ways to look at Tarantino's attitude towards his characters--if you're uptight and you have rigid ideals, his treatment of the harsh material is an unthinkable sin. But, if you have heart enough and open mind enough, I think you'll be able to appreciate his handling of these maladjusted misfits as the ultimate lovable screw ups.

Other than the characters, the appeal of this movie is the gaminess with which the quest for survival is presented. Whether the characters end up dead or alive is really of no consequence--all that really matters is how much fun they're having playing around in this big, fucked up universe.

But let's not forget the performances.

John Travolta, in '94's big acting surprise, acts out Tarantino's fantasy--a guy with a big dick, a gun, and a sense of fun let loose in the gigantic toy store of life. Along for the ride is Samuel L. Jackson, in the role of his lifetime, as a tenacious, yet somehow endearing, hitman who finds God at the wrong time. Big Bruce Willis is a wrongheadedly prideful prizefighter who can't part with his dignity, and he eventually pays the price (and finds glorious redemption) at the hands of Ving Rahmes, a big, black badass who's cool for the simple evil that lurks behind his soul-brother facade--everything is his territory, and the characters in this film are all on his playing field. And Uma Thurman proved she could play it realistic as Rhames' seductive, coke snorting wife who makes a near-fatal mistake when she finds a bag of the big H in Travolta's overcoat.

The characters criscross in deceptively simple lines of play; one of the principle joys of the film is watching small misunderstandings balloon into catastrophic blasts of violence, and unvoiced frustrations giving way to...catastrophic blasts of violence.

All roads in "Pulp Fiction" initially lead to death and destruction, but Tarantino eventually reveals his heart, his soul, and his knack for fashioning unsentimental happy endings.

My favorite bit is when Willis and his beau ride out of town on a dead man's motorcycle. There are two pleasures to be found here: the victorious glint of chrome in the sun, and the word emblazoned across the bike itself.

Grace. The chopper is named Grace.

What else do I really need to say?

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