Starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, written by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary
IMDB Rating: 8.9
Insanely quotable, retro-cool, comedic action – a classic if there ever was one. Pulp Fiction is undeniably not just one of Tarantino’s finest pieces, but one of the greatest pictures ever made.
Pulp Fiction follows two different but interwoven stories in underworld LA, ruled over by Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). The main story follows his two henchmen, Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Jackson), who are sent by Wallace to retrieve a stolen suitcase. Marsellus Wallace also asks Vincent to take his wife Mia (Thurman) out on the town – a perilous task considering the last guy to go anywhere near her was thrown over a balcony by him. The other story follows ageing boxer Butch Coolidge (Willis), who is paid by Marsellus to throw his last fight. However Butch has his own plan, and goes as far as killing his opponent in the ring.
pulp /’p&lp/ n. 1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2. A magazine or book containing lurid subject matter and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper.
This is a crime film where the crime takes a back-seat. It’s there, but the selling point for this film is the characters in the film. Everyone in the film, Marsellus, Vincent, Jules, Mia, Butch – they all bring characteristics that the others lack, meaning there’s a lot of character floating around in the general melting pot that is Pulp Fiction. My personal favourite is Jules because he is unfathomably cool, however in a close second has to be The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) – how he walks in and is immediately respected, almost untouchable by these people who have been running the show for most of the film, plus the fact that he is probably the most normal person in the film makes him a much liked character.
As mentioned above, the film does (especially in modern times) feel rough around the edges and not quite up to scratch – especially the way it fades out and back in every so often. This will have reduced the films value to some but I think for most it adds to the ‘classic’ feel of the piece. The only criticism I can think of for this film is that it can drag. With a run-time of over 2 1/2 hours it can get to a point where all the dialogue starts to lose its fun factor – but maybe that’s just me and my short attention span!
Jules: I want you to go in that bag, and find my wallet. Ringo: Which one is it? Jules: It’s the one that says Bad Motherfucker.
The performances in this film are all top notch, but the best is undoubtedly Samuel L. Jackson. Already fairly established heading into Pulp Fiction, and with a hugely respected career afterwards, this is still regarded by many as his best ever performance. It may help that his character, Jules Winnfield, is instantly quotable, and naturally cool, but I think Sam L. Jackson adds even more to the character through his own natural ‘coolness’. John Travolta is also very good in this film, showing his acting prowess in a very believable and consistent performance.
Huge credit has to go to Quentin Tarantino for the way this film is put together. He is such a successful actor and has made many classics, but this is surely his best work. Everything is on point, and you can tell that all the little details are intended to increase its value.
This is an utterly unique film that nearly uses everything a film could possibly use to increase it’s entertainment value. There is so many different styles and characters and stories in this film that I fear if it was to be suggested in this day and age it would be rejected, for trying to do everything at once. It may surprise you to hear that Pulp Fiction only won 1 Oscar (Best Original Screenplay), but it surely would have won more if it wasn’t made in such an incredible year – The other nominees for Best Picture in 1995 were Quiz Show, Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Shawshank Redemption and the winner, Forrest Gump. Has there ever been a better year!?