Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot.
It’s said that the difference between drama and comedy is one of emotions and mechanics. Drama focuses on the emotions people share interacting with each other and comedy is all about the mechanics of how people interact with each other. This is partly my own theory, but a good theory is worthwhile in itself regardless of how well it fits into an overall paradigm.
If we hold to this, Pulp makes a little more sense in how its structure is designed to reflect its overall theme. Our lead character Mickey King played by Michael Caine narrates the story on the screen so that what we see and hear at times presents a disconnect, sometimes creating an imbalance in how much is being told and how much it drives the story forward.
Pulp novelist Mickey King (Michael Caine) makes a living by dictating his fiction onto tape and having a barrage of typists churn out his words, an activity which allows him to wallow in the writing lifestyle without actually having to learn to type. King is approached by Ben Dinuccio (Lionel Stander) who pays him a large advance to pen a mysterious new book. King agrees and later realizes he has been hired by retired actor Preston Gilbert (Mickey Rooney) to ghost-write his autobiography, a history that includes close relationships with many real-life gangsters. The job requires that King travel to a remote island where Gilbert lives with his mother and assorted retinue, and when the actor is assassinated the writer finds himself immersed in a real mystery involving gun-slinging priests, retired princesses, and inept police detectives, and a race to save his own life.
This was a reunited effort with director Mike Hodges for Caine a year after the popular Get Carter. Make no mistake; Caine is the center of this flick. His voice-over is humorous if mostly character color, and the point of the movie is largely a comment on storytelling and the role of the author as authority figure and in how the story he tells in many ways distorts the truth. Lines like the following help clue us into the sense of humor of the filmmakers and how to approach film: “I am famous for such books as "My Gun is Long". I have many aliases. I am authors Susan Eager and Paul S. Coming. I am those and others. I am Paul Strong, Gary Rough and Les B. Han.” Yuck, yuck!
The main plot of the story is retarded, as the beginning of the movie is loaded with activity establishing the world Caine’s King inhabits and his attitude about his life choices. “Then I read in The Guinness Book of Records about Erle Stanley Gardner, the world's fastest writer, who can dictate up to the rate of 10,000 words a day. That was for me. None of that romantic stuff with a typewriter. I had better uses for those two particular fingers.”
The one supremely exceptional thing about this feature is the saturated cinematography by Ousama Rawi, giving us great visuals to keep us involved. This and the voice over of Caine’s writer King keeps us informed of just what is happening in the movie. Rawi manages to actually detract from the overall tone of the film with his saturated photography which could be used to advertise the beauty ofRomeand the surrounding areas. The colors of gold and the greens, and oranges are something to admire, and it’s too bad this creates such a disconnect between tone and look of the movie.
Structurally speaking the structure of the movie seems designed for the viewer to miss the point. Mickey Rooney’s ex-gangster movie star Preston Gilbert appears very late in the film and concerning his purpose, we wonder why he didn’t enter sooner. It’s great to see Rooney in another film, and even though when this movie was made he was feeling his oats, he adds some certain old-style vibrancy to the picture.
If you like other films of this sort like Gumshoe, then you’ll appreciate the buried humor here. Michael Caine manages to keep the whole enterprise afloat with his searing gaze and his steely delivery, and the look of the picture is a real plus.
Read all 2 Reviews
Write a Review
Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older