Saturday, November 19, 2011
#239: Pulp Fiction
There's that spunk in Tarantino movies. I don't what else to call it. It's a bundle of latent energy just waiting to explode but waiting for that finale to happen, you know it's there and about to hit you. If you look at his filmography as a director and see the interviews he's given, he's admitted to consciously looking for that edge to infuse his movies with. In Kill Bill, it's the entire warrior piece, in Reservoir Dogs, it is the character of Michael Madsen, in Death Proof it is the car chase and so on and so forth. But no movie of his has as much of spunk as Pulp Fiction.
To begin, with Tarantino gets the name right. This movie is as pulpy-fictionally that it can get and like a true Bollywood masala movie it has everything. There's love and romance between Butch, the fighter (Bruce Willis) and his muse, there's a paternal affection angle handled delicately by Colonel Koontz (Walken), there's crime and murder perpetrated by two purposeful hitmen (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) and there's something that everyone else is chasing without the audience never really knowing what it really is. Nothing however beats the zig-zag storytelling of the Academy Award winning screenplay written by Roger Avary and Tarantino. Divided into three distinct stories, Pulp Fiction begins in the most sedate fashion with Tim Roth over a coffee table explaining the difference between a robbery in a bank and that in a small store. And that is the thinnest tip of the iceberg that the movie really is. Without notice, the film explodes through a mix of oddball characters that include a crime boss, his pretty wife (Uma Thurman), junkies, a boxer and those two hitmen called Vincent Vega and Jules. Tarantino gives the actors a different universe altogether to play in and with the actors with their signature understated, casual way of speaking subscribe to those rules of that universe. The only exception being the alternative brilliance of Samuel L. Jackson and a neat cameo by Harvey Keitel. Then there's also the background score of the movie, handpicked by Tarantino himself and like most of his other movies vying for the honors of best OST ever.
The special bit about Pulp Fiction is that whenever there's a wow moment, there isn't much notice for the audience to prepare. Stories interconnect seamlessly and it takes a while to tie some of those loose ends in your head. This is a film that improves with every repeat viewing because there's something in it that makes you fall in love with it every time you watch it. Clearly, this is a Tarantino special. It is his unhindered vision that makes it such a special film. If there's one part that I didn't enjoy much in the movie, it is Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) ending part. Watching it even today doesn't arrest my attention. T
Oddly though, this isn't my favorite Tarantino flick and yet it is one I have seen most number of times. I guess it goes back to the spunk-quotient of this film. I love the drooly pace at which things proceed and then suddenly explode. It is something Tarantino has now made his trademark in his other films. But this is where it all began and this is special indeed.