Title: Pulp Fiction
Release Date: October 14, 1994
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Production Company: A Band Apart | Jersey Films
So I finally watched Pulp Fiction after avoiding it for 26 years. And it was … okay. Especially in the first sequence with Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), I kind of felt that I already knew every line of dialogue from repeated quoting and referencing. Nevertheless, there were some surprises:
- I had no idea that stars like Christopher Walken and Bruce Willis were in this movie, much less that Willis has a major role.
- I didn’t realize that this movie is very long (154 minutes). Granted, it’s basically three different movies intertwined. Tarantino essentially went ahead and made Pulp Fiction sequels and integrated them into the original film, which is admittedly clever.
- The movie also features a lot of dialogue, both conversations and monologues, allowed to play out in full which is unusual for movies in recent decades and much appreciated. Although that dialogue also adds to the long running time…
- I had absolutely no idea of the many twists and turns that occur in the “The Gold Watch” sequence with Butch (Willis), Vincent and then Marcellus ( Ving Rhames)
I avoided this movie because I assumed it was full of gratuitous violence and casual, hipster indifference to that violence. There’s definitely some of that in this movie (a rape scene in “The Gold Watch” and a character getting his head blown off in “The Bonnie Situation” are particularly brutal to watch). Nevertheless, the violence doesn’t seem to be as extreme as expected and as I noted above, words are more key to this movie than action. I was turned off by the gratuitous and “hipster-cool” ways that racial slurs are used in the movie and that aspect is going to only to continue to make the movie look dated as time passes.
What makes the movie for me is the moments of humanity. In three instances, in fact, people go to great efforts to save the life of another: Vincent rescues Mia (Uma Thurman) from a drug overdose, Butch goes back to rescue his rival Marcellus from their attackers, and Jules begins his transformation away from a life of crime to rescue the hapless robbers Ringo (Tim Roth) and Yolanda (Amanda Plummer). There are great acting performances by everyone involved including smaller parts by Harvey Keitel, Maria de Medeiros, and Eric Stoltz.
I can definitely see Pulp Fiction earning a spot on a greatest movies of all-time list based on its influence on the film industry alone. Nevertheless, I don’t believe it will make my personal lists of favorite movies.