Pulp Fiction, for me, is one of those movies that exists in the zeitgeist just as much as it does on the screen. Sure, it’s decidedly of the ’90s more so than the 21st century, but its impact remains strong. Boasting a cast that includes John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and the iconic Bruce Willis, Quentin Tarantino’s most popular piece of cinema leaves a distinct impression.
Set in the underworld of Los Angeles, Pulp Fiction weaves together a slew of seemingly unrelated stories. Two hitmen, played to comic perfection by Travolta and Jackson, settle the score for their gangster boss. An unhinged young couple try to spice things up at the local diner. A boxer on his way out of the limelight considers whether to throw his next fight. Thurman shines as a coquettish mob wife and would-be actress who requires constant entertainment. Tarantino’s trademark snappy dialogue pulls the curtain back on each character’s unique worldview—monologues abound!
Now regarded by many as Tarantino’s masterpiece, Pulp Fiction was initially turned down by studios for being “too demented.” It’s a fair criticism—if you’re disturbed by graphic violence and drug use, this is not the movie for you. But you probably already knew to expect those elements, considering Tarantino’s reputation as an auteur. Assuming you don’t mind (or even enjoy!) violence and a heavy dose of chaos, Pulp Fiction is a can’t-miss movie.
Other highlights of this movie include a circular (and very satisfying) narrative structure, an eclectic soundtrack, and enough one-liners to make you look like a competent cinephile at your next movie night.
While Pulp Fiction doesn’t even come close to passing the Bechdel test, it easily manages to hold a special place in my heart. Tarantino proves that gore, grit, and black humor can be applied to dazzling effects (although the all-star cast doesn’t hurt). The winner of two “Best Screenplay” awards and the Palme d’Or, Pulp Fiction may not be fun for the whole family, but what else would you expect from Tarantino?
dir. Quentin Tarantino
Screens (on 35mm!) Tuesday, 4/12, 7:15PM @ Somerville Theatre
Part of the ongoing series FACE/OFF: Travolta/Cage (paired with Red Rock West)
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