Film: Pulp Fiction

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Film:

Pulp Fiction

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Walt Disney Video

With the knockout one-two punch of 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and 1994’s Pulp Fiction writer-director Quentin Tarantino stunned the filmmaking world, exploding into prominence as a cinematic heavyweight contender. But Pulp Fiction was more than just the follow-up to an impressive first feature, or the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, or a script stuffed with the sort of juicy bubblegum dialogue actors just love to chew, or the vehicle that reestablished John Travolta on the A-list, or the relatively low-budget ($8 million)…

Reviews

Amazon.com

With the knockout one-two punch of 1992’s Reservoir Dogs and 1994’s Pulp Fiction writer-director Quentin Tarantino stunned the filmmaking world, exploding into prominence as a cinematic heavyweight contender. But Pulp Fiction was more than just the follow-up to an impressive first feature, or the winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, or a script stuffed with the sort of juicy bubblegum dialogue actors just love to chew, or the vehicle that reestablished John Travolta on the A-list, or the relatively low-budget ($8 million) independent showcase for an ultrahip mixture of established marquee names and rising stars from the indie scene (among them Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Julia Sweeney, Kathy Griffin, and Phil Lamar). It was more, even, than an unprecedented $100-million-plus hit for indie distributor Miramax. Pulp Fiction was a sensation. No, it was not the Second Coming (I actually think Reservoir Dogs is a more substantial film; and P.T. Anderson outdid Tarantino in 1997 by making his directorial debut with two even more mature and accomplished pictures, Hard Eight and Boogie Nights). But Pulp Fiction packs so much energy and invention into telling its nonchronologically interwoven short stories (all about temptation, corruption, and redemption amongst modern criminals, large and small) it leaves viewers both exhilarated and exhausted—hearts racing and knuckles white from the ride. (Oh, and the infectious, surf-guitar-based soundtrack is tastier than a Royale with Cheese.) —Jim Emerson

Barnes and Noble

Just when American independent cinema seemed to be peaking in the mid-’90s, Pulp Fiction came in with a bullet, not only redefining the world that Hollywood called “small movies” but also Hollywood itself. Writer-director Quentin Tarantino’s sophomore effort, following his 1992 cult hit Reservoir Dogs, was a studio executive’s dream equation: star power (Bruce Willis and John Travolta, whose career turned around thanks to the film); a budget south of $10 million; plenty of action; and some of the slickest, wittiest dialogue this side of David Mamet. The film also caters to the critics, professional and otherwise, with knowing touches in every scene. Like Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, Tarantino’s film wears its influences on its sleeve—pulp crime novels, ‘70s TV, and movies, movies, movies—yet still offers a sensibility like none before it. The artfully fragmented narrative concerns a pair of philosophically inclined assassins (Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) and a rebellious boxer (Willis), all in the employ of an imperious gangster (Ving Rhames) who holds sway in the sleazy underbelly of Los Angeles. In addition to a stellar supporting cast that includes Harvey Keitel, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz, Roseanna Arquette, and Tim Roth, this much-imitated film also has a super-groovy soundtrack, with selections ranging from the Tornadoes’ “Bustin’ Surfboards” to Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man.” Visceral yet chatty, gruesome yet hilarious, Pulp Fiction successfully straddles both mainstream and indie film realms, and it will likely be recalled as the most influential American film of its era. Monica McIntyre

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