Pulp Fiction – When Genres Collide

Pulp Fiction – When Genres Collide

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  1. Quentin Terantino… some people love him and some people hate him.  People that love him normally cite Pulp Fiction as one of their favorite films ever made.  The love for this film is well deserved because it was nominated for an amazing 7 Oscars in 1995.  Those nominations include Best Lead Actor (John Travolta), Best Supporting Actor (Samuel L. Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman), Best Director (Quentin Terantino), Best Film Editing (Sally Menke), Best Original Screenplay (Quentin Terantino and Roger Avary), and even Best Picture (Lawrence Bender).  It only won Best Original Screenplay and it lost Best Picture, Best Lead Actor, Best Director, and Best Film Editing to the classic Tom Hanks film, Forrest Gump.  Many Terantino faithfuls were not happy about losing to Forrest Gump, but they are used to it now since Teratino has only ever been nominated at the Oscars again for his 2009 film, Inglorious Basterds.  The Academy may not like Terantino, but millions of moviegoers do and his 1994 cult classic Pulp Fiction will show you why.

    What is it about?

    The narrative structure of Pulp Fiction is famously out of order; however, it is easy to follow.  It is about two hitmen who work for a mob boss named Marsellus.  The two hitmen are to retrieve a briefcase for Marsellus which requires them to kill a group of young men with whom Marsellus had done some business.  One of those hitmen, Jules (Samuel L. Jackson), wants to retire but the other hitman, Vincent (John Travolta), is happy with his job and he gets assigned other jobs for Marsellus.

    One such assignment that Vincent is asked to do is to take Marsellus’s wife (Uma Thurman) out on the town one night.  That, of course, gets way out of control and leads to her almost dying.  Another job of Vincent’s is to kill a boxer, Butch (Bruce Willis), who was supposed to take a dive in order to win Marsellus a lot of money.  Butch actually wins the fight, a decision that he knows will put him in hot water with Marsellus.  It does just that and Vincent is hired to go kill Butch.  You will have to watch the film to see whom that exchange works out for in the end.

    Is it good?

    A film doesn’t get nominated for 7 Oscars if it isn’t any good… usually.  So, yes, this film is very good.  The acting is spectacular, which you would expect from such a stellar cast.  The pacing is perfect and the order in which Tertantino tells the intersecting stories is such that keeps you interested.  Also, the characters are refreshingly original and very well-developed.  The biggest drawback of this film (and a lot of other Terantino films), is that it is a little long.  It runs more than two and a half hours and it could be a little shorter while still being just as good.

    The reason it runs a little long is that Terantino tends to get long-winded in his dialogue.  His dialogue, though, is what really makes this film shine.  He has the amazing ability to teach you so much about a character with just a simple, mundane conversation about something as insignificant as why someone doesn’t eat pork.  The best aspect of Pulp Fiction is the banter and discussions between the two hitmen, Vincent and Jules.  They have such different and dynamic personalities and their verbal sparring matches show you how they have the utmost respect for each other while still holding to vastly opposing views.  And their deep friendship is evident.

    Those are all the kinds of things that any normal audience member can appreciate, but Terantino gives film buffs a little more.  The entire point of Pulp Fiction is to show what happens when film genres collide.  That’s what makes it so interesting for people that love film as an art form.  Each story in this film is a distinctly different genre and every one of those stories collide with every other one in very unique ways giving the audience new ways to experience each genre and its conventions.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A+

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