Pulp Fiction (1994)
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Like every film, Pulp Fiction has its moments, but this is not what I would call great art. Maybe more like non-art!
While Quentin Tarantino showed great promise with his smash hit Reservoir Dogs, I expected more from him with this his second film. I mean, this time he actually had a budget. If I remember correctly RD was a pretty low bucks project. But it goes to show that more money does not necessarily mean more picture. To me, this was not the worthy encore that a lot of reviewers said it was.
First of all, Tarantino needs to get a new cast of characters, besides Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel. Tim Roth is not the be-all and end-all actor for these little Tarantino morsels. I did think Tim did a great job in "Reservoir", but this role did not call for a hammy overacted performance which is what Tim does best —- just look at "Rob Roy" where he was simply smashing.
The vulgarity was down to a new low, with Christopher Walken telling, with a straight, almost reverential face, how Bruce Willis’ dad carried his Seiko stuffed in his bowel while a prisoner in Vietnam and then when he died of dysentery, Walken carried it in his for a further couple years. How nice of him to share! Then Bruce’s part itself, probably one of the high points of the film, but did it have to concern itself with buggery? Another scene concerned major drug abuse, including an OD by Uma Thurman. What a script. Maybe Tarantino's intent was to shock people for its own sake. If it was, he succeeded admirably.
Of course, John Travolta and Samuel Jackson with his bad hair made a big hit as the hit men with the philosophical discussions.
In a typical episode, they casually rub out their backseat passenger as John carelessly points to him with his gun for emphasis and it accidentally goes off. To get rid of the body, they get Harvey Keitel as the "Cleaner", a character ripped straight off from "La Femme Nikita" and "the Professional" and take the body to Tarantino's house.
But to give the devil his due, Sam Jackson’s preachy Jules said some good lines, like "If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions." And after Travolta and Jackson change from their bloodstained clothes into some of Tarantino's casual threads, Keitel says to Tarantino "What do these guys look like?" "Dorks, they look like dorks", says Quentin. "They’re your clothes, M*F*," says Jules. How can you not like a salty character like that? :>
Besides the Willis, Jackson and Travolta characters there were good performances by supporting actors like Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Amanda Plummer, and Rosanna Arquette, most of which were incidental to the main interplay between the hitmen sequence, the Bruce Willis sequence, and of course the robbery sequence. These subordinate characters added color, but the movie could have had more substance with a tighter story.
Shocking, disturbing, disjointed continuity, poor camera work. Script consisting of mostly staccato F-words. Oh yes, rock ‘n’ roll music soundtrack. Another original idea. Should I go on?
If you need to see a Tarantino to round out your understanding of his capabilities, see the original, "Reservoir Dogs" which had more Tarantino genius in it by a long shot. If you are a cultist, you are not going to agree with my assessment anyway, but objectively I think the most I can give it is three stars, for great performances by Jackson and Willis, Travolta's strong comeback performance, and the other good parts I mentioned.
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