Movie of the Week: Pulp Fiction (1994)

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Quentin Tarantino directs John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson and Bruce Willis in this portmanteau of discombobulated LA crime stories that crash into each other in unexpected way. 

A perfect movie… which makes it a million times more difficult to write about. Being a critic is so much easier than be an advocate, especially about something that is still so achingly cool. When a movie is this flawless, so confidently playful, so pulsing with illicit energy, it is hard to know what to do but just list all the good stuff. And the good stuff when it comes to Pulp Fiction is every single fucking moment. So aside from confirming Tarantino as one of genre cinema’s geniuses, reinventing the movie soundtrack and raising the utterly compelling Samuel L Jackson up from bit part actor to bonafide movie star, what does Pulp Fiction mean to me? When I first bought a pirate copy of it as fifteen year old, I was blown away. Like Oasis’s What’s The Story (Morning Glory)?, Pulp Fiction was a unifying experience for a generation, opening up all its cool influences proudly, like a crib sheet of culture for the young and the hungry. Just as Oasis introduced me to the finer points of The Kinks, The Jam and Slade as did Tarantino to Elmore Leonard, Sam Peckinpah and Point Blank. Tarantino made being a movie nerd as much about loving Lee Marvin in The Killers and the dance sequence of Bande à Part as it was about the deep focus in Citizen Kane and the retrospective of Sajit Ray. He democratised and broadened what being a film fan was, sucking out all the high walled pretentions. He showed action set pieces dripping with palpable tension could revolve around finding  “a little fuckin’ black medical book” or choosing the just right weapon from a pawn shop full of deadly movie props, that you now didn’t need explosions or heavy artillery if you were invested in the stakes and the players. He highlighted a style of profane movie dialogue where character reveals itself in time killing small talk about TV pilots and breakfast plans rather than grand monologues. And a world so sniggering with the irony that whenever John Travolta’s smacked out killer spends too long in the bathroom bad things happen.  Every time I watch Pulp Fiction it is a thrilling blast, and cinema truly was never the same again.

10

 

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