The big one. My first viewing of Pulp Fiction all those years ago happened out of obligation. Everyone said it was amazing but I could never tell if people just wanted to fit in? At the time and even more so today nobody wanted to be the person who disliked Pulp Fiction, it has a weird but wonderful reputation and boy does it live up to it.
Having emerged as an ambitious visionary at Sundance with Reservoir Dogs Quentin Tarantino once again set his mind to arguably his greatest work to date. Whilst living in Amsterdam Tarantino shut himself out from the world and dedicated three months to writing Pulp Fiction. His initial attempt was rudely but expertly interrupted by Reservoir Dogs and he was now fully committed to furnishing Pulp with all the trimmings. Having watched countless movies during his time as a video store clerk in Los Angeles Tarantino recognised patterns in stories, embellished and set them in downtown LA. The boxer who throws a fight, the merciless hitmen who make a blood splattered mess in the morning, and the crime boss’ wife who does her own thing. These three stories emerged out of a love of film and in honour of the great detective writers during the 20s and 30s, Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Their pulp fiction inspired Tarantino’s collection of stories that coincide with each other in unique and unforeseen ways.
Pulp Fiction is, at the heart a humorous story about LA’s bungling criminal community. At a time when American cinema was bobbing along happily in its own merry little world Tarantino throws his universe of crime capers and violence right in its face and soaks up the appraise from Hollywood and the general public. Catch them with their pants down much like how Honey Bunny and Pumpkin rob a restaurant because nobody ever does it, very rarely does a writing and directing talent such as Tarantino show up and change the scene. For an independent movie to change the shape of cinema so dramatically for as little as $8.5 million is no mean feat.
I started writing this with the idea to watch it again and write at the same time. Needless to say I got distracted. But not in the way you’d imagine. I set it on pause smack bang in the middle of the opening diner scene, taking note of the Red Apple cigarettes and soaking in the greasy atmosphere. I typed a little and when I was ready to resume Honey Bunny shrieks her threats at the innocent diners and the rolling riff of Dick Dale and His Del Tones kicks in. Quite possibly one of the best opening scenes I have ever seen and I even had a little laugh to myself and just how brilliantly composed this scene is. Its revealing and tantalising dialogue encourages a wry smile as the non-linear storyline and combination of lurid violence and humour take hold in Tarantino’s most original screenplay.
To sum up real quick, I’m currently 555 words in to this review and I’ve only just hit the opening credits.
If this image does to you what it does to me then you know I’m in for an incredibly enjoyable 140 minutes.
As Miserlou tunes out and Jungle Boogie kicks in we are introduced to our first major players. Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield interrupt the Big Kahuna breakfast Brett and his partners are indulging in to reposses a breifcase belonging to a mutual associate, Marcellus Wallace. As the non-linear story unfolds (a narrative device that has kept infographic geeks busy for decades) we aren’t left expecting anything else from Tarantino, everything he set out to accomplish has been achieved and all we can really do is revel in its brilliance and wait patiently for his next feature. This Timeless Classic swept the floor upon its release and continues to astound new viewers and established QT fans all the same. If there is one thing we learnt from Pulp Fiction it’s that Tarantino certainly had the talent to back-up his debut feature and if there is one thing we didn’t learn it’s what was in the breifcase.
Naturally there is so much more to say but I wouldn’t want to ruin the party for any fledgling cinephiles out there, and just remember “any time of the day is a good time for pie.”
* * * * *