Monday, July 21, 2008

Kevin's Favorite 25 Movies, #2: Pulp Fiction

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2) Pulp Fiction
dir. by Quentin Tarantino

Yeah I know. Pulp Fiction. Obvious, huh? I mean what 26 year-old film buff doesn't love this movie? But I don't really care if this is a somewhat predictable choice. Quentin Tarantino's masterful interpolated tale of seedy gangsters, their wives, sadomasochists, boxers, and inane drug dealers is still one of the freshest films I have ever seen. The film has been somewhat watered down due to all of the parodies and aped wannabe films that followed, but it was a rite of passage film for me; a film that was like a ferryman taking me across the river of casual film admirer to fully evolved film buff.

It's the first time I re-watched a film twice in one day. I remember it vividly, because I was never allowed to see the film, and I was staying over at a friends house (I think I was in like 6th grade or something) and we watched it -- shocked by what we just had seen -- we had to watch it again. There was no other choice...I mean, did that really just happen? Did we really just see what we though we saw? Wait is that the end of the film? These were the questions we turned and asked ourselves after the initial viewing. From that moment on, whenever anyone would ask me what my favorite movie was; I would mention Pulp Fiction. Whenever I was asked which film inspired me the most to leisurely write about film, I would mention Pulp Fiction. Whenever anyone would ask me: which film do you recommend for us tonight? I would answer Pulp Fiction. By now most everyone has seen the film, its influence on pop culture is well noted. It's a masterpiece of postmodern filmmaking and it pretty much introduced the world to the bizarre mind of Quentin Tarantino.

The film is still fun to watch too; time has not made the film easier to look back on be dismissive towards it. Yes, the buzz for the film and its merits were huge when the film came out; the kind of buzz that usually spells doom for the film five years down the road. However, Pulp Fiction still holds today with its weird pop-philosophy (see the clip above, which is actually quite moving), nostalgic postmodernism (the Jack Rabbit Slim's scene), outrageous violence ("I just shot Marvin in the face"), and quotable dialogue (there's too many to list here, but come on, who doesn't know the foot massage discussion, or ask anyone, even if they haven't seen the film, where the "Royale with cheese" line comes from, and you will always get the right answer). The film is also famous for the revitalization of John Travolta's career (damn you Tarantino, because of you we had to endure Mad City, Face/Off, Broken Arrow, Michael, The General's Daughter, and of course Battlefield Earth), but it also has tremendous and star making performances from Samuel L. Jackson -- who it seems to take a lot of roles that want him to be a different version of the Jules character he plays here -- Uma Thurman, and Ving Rhames. It's also interesting that this film, even after repeated viewings, is never not interesting. It still has the ability to make you laugh and squirm and sit on the edge of your seat (especially in the virtuoso scene of Vincent injecting a comatose and OD'd Mia).

What else can I say about the film. It's one of the best ever made, and its influence on the genre and film in general is immeasurable. Yes, there were a lot of horrible Pulp Fiction rip-offs (2 Days in the Valley, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead) but it also made films like Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Tarantino's later film Jackie Brown more accessible to a larger audience. And anytime you can flood the cinema with something a little edgier and a lot different than the usual Hollywood crap that comes out, well then, we should all thank Pulp Fiction for that. Truly one of the best films ever made...ah...but there is one that is better. As I grew up even more and enriched my palette I found a film that excels in both narrative and aesthetics in a way that no other film I have ever seen has. That would be my selection for my favorite film of all time which is...tune in tomorrow to find out.


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