Pulp Fiction (1994)
Crime, Thriller, 154 minutes
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken and Harvey Keitel
It's not easy to write about Pulp Fiction. The plot is deliberately non-linear and we follow several stories at once. The opening scene is set in a diner and we see two people discussing the virtues of robbing restaurants. The closing scene returns to that same diner and we see the result of their attempts as they interact with other characters we meet during the course of the story.
Crime is a recurring theme and part of the story focuses on Jules Winnfield (Jackson) and Vincent Vega (Travolta) as they carry out hits for their boss. We get to know these characters well, and that's one thing that makes Pulp Fiction great. Tarantino's dialogue is very distinctive. It's funny and true to life, but it also provides plenty of exposition and characterization. You will come away from Pulp Fiction feeling as if you know Jules and Vincent. Like any employee, they talk about things other than their job. Whether it's burgers, miracles, or foot massages, it's always entertaining.
Another thread follows Butch (Willis). He's a boxer who is paid to fix a fight, but he wins anyway. That means he has to go on the run.
One thing I like about Tarantino is the structure of his films. He regularly includes a scene immediately before a sequence to explain the motivations of the characters in that scene. In Kill Bill 2, remember how Beatrix was shown learning skills from Pai Mei immediately before her escape from the grave? In Pulp Fiction, Butch is given a watch. Christopher Walken's cameo is one of the funniest I have seen in any film. He explains how he and his father protected the watch and why it's important that Butch looks after it. This explains why Butch will risk death to return to his apartment and recover the watch later in his life.
A third story shows Vincent taking Mia Wallace (Thurman) out for the night. Her husband is likely to kill him if he makes a wrong move, so his night is filled with tension. The dialogue is at its best when the two talk in the restaurant. Tarantino makes some good observations, such as why we feel the need to talk about trivial things rather than enjoy the silence.
All of the characters are connected with each other. Butch will eventually meet Vincent and Mia's husband. Vincent and Jules will meet the robbers shown in the opening scene.
Perhaps the best story in the entire film involves Winston Wolfe (Keitel). He's a man who knows how to solve problems and he doesn't waste a second or expect anyone to deviate from his instructions. An unfortunate accident leaves Jules and Vincent in an awkward predicament. They have to dispose of a body and remove all traces of the incident. Tarantino even makes a cameo in this chapter as Jimmy.
Pulp Fiction will confound some viewers because it doesn't follow an established structure. A character might die in one scene and show up later in the film. The plot meanders all over the place and offers a glimpse into the lives of these colorful characters. It's not important what happens to them; it's more an exercise in style and mood. Pulp Fiction happens in an unfamiliar world.
The music and dialogue are vital ingredients in any Tarantino film and this one is no different. The actors have so much fun delivering his words. If you focus on Jackson, it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the part of Jules so well. Willis plays Butch in the same way. There are unlikely alliances, a Mexican standoff, shots of women's feet, shots from inside a car trunk and all the things you would expect from Tarantino.
I've heard people complain about the violence in Pulp Fiction, but there aren't actually many deaths and most of the violence isn't directly shown. One thing I should mention is the language. If you are sensitive to excessive swearing, this film might not be for you. But the swearing does fit the characters and it always feels authentic.
Tarantino's films are a lot of fun. If you have a sense of humor that's similar to mine, you might find it among the funniest material available on film. I grin my way through all his films and Pulp Fiction feels about an hour shorter than it actually is.
The Blu-ray presentation is just about perfect.
on May 3, 2004
This ground breaking movie has been endlessly discussed, praised, damned, ripped off and copied so many times that you can easily lose sight of the fact that what you have here is a genuinely original, exciting and important work of art that when experienced for the umpteenth time STILL never fails to thrill and amuse.
This movie is one of the few I would describe as perfect. I honestly cannot fault a thing about it. The brilliant dialogue has become legendary, the elliptical structure of the script has been much imitated and will continue to do so. The fantastic group of actors, who range from has-beens (at the time) to cult favourites, are all uniformly excellent, and the soundtrack is one of the coolest and most eclectic ever assembled. In short, this is a modern classic, and required viewing for all movie fans. 'Pulp Fiction' is as good as any movie you care to name. To (mis)quote Flavor Flav - "believe the hype!"
Pulp Fiction comes to blu ray with AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1, personally supervised and approved by Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself. The video is a considerable improvement over the standard DVD. The picture is razor sharp, with an incredible amount of detail. From the blood streaks in Jules' car after Marvin is shot, to the individual strands in Travolta's hairpiece, every aspect of Andrzej Sekua's vivid cinematography is presented perfectly. Colours are bold and realistic, such as in the Jack Rabbit Slim's sequence. Uma Thurman's crimson lips simply pop off the screen. Skin tones are always very natural looking. Beads of sweat can be seen clearly running down the face of Marsellus. I also appreciate the subtitles within the screen, and located on the side of the person speaking. (4.5/5)
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is equally impressive. Dialogue is crystal clear. The music sounds satisfyingly full-bodied. The selection of songs for the soundtrack is superb. The song Son Of A Preacher Man revitalized Dusty Springfield's career. To hear Urge Overkill's 1994 version of Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon is also a rare treat. (4.5/5)
'Pulp Fiction' is a beloved film that made Tarantino's career, plus revitalizing John Travolta's career in the process. The storytelling is masterful as well, with three distinct stories coming together in unusual ways to complete the scrambled narrative. And each individual story takes such wild turns, upending clichés in every instance possible, that the end result is a movie that compels the viewer to return for additional viewings.
The casting is also first-rate, including John Travolta (Vincent Vega), Samuel L. Jackson (Jules Winnfield), Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace, the Mob Boss), Uma Thurman (Mia..she looked younger of course and more rounded than when she appeared in Kill Bill series 9 years later), Bruce Willis (Butch Coolidge, the aged boxer). Cameos included Harvey Keitel (Winston Wolfe, problem fixer), Christopher Walken (Captain Koons), Steve Buscemi (Buddy Holly look-alike) and of course Quentin himself as Jimmie.
Quentin Tarantino won an Oscar for Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the Screen, together with Roger Avary. The movie also garnered 6 Academy Award Nominations, including Best Picture (Lawrence Bender), Best Director (Quentin Tarantino), Best Leading Actor (John Travolta), Best Supporting Actor (Samuel L. Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman) and Best Film Editing (Sally Menke).
Did you know that the passage from the Bible that Jules has memorized was mostly made up by Quentin Tarantino and Samuel L. Jackson. The only part that's similar to what the Bible says is the part where he says, "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee." However, the parts about the righteous man and the shepherd are not real.
The shot of Vincent plunging the syringe into Mia's chest was filmed by having John Travolta pull the needle out, then running the film backwards.
Knoxville, Tennessee, where Butch was meeting his connection and where his great-grandfather bought the gold watch, is also Quentin Tarantino's birthplace.
Pulp Fiction had an estimated budget of $8 million. The Worldwide Box Office Receipt was a staggering $213 million!
In summary, Pulp Fiction is a great and very enjoyable film from beginning to end. The story is well-paced. The running time of 2 hours 34 minutes ran by very quickly. Both the video and audio are top-notched together with a great cast. This is for sure the definitive version of Pulp Fiction. The very memorable dance sequence between Travolta and Thurman alone is worth the price of admission. Please also note that the price is also very reasonable. Highly recommended.
on June 20, 2003
One of the best. I feel sorry for anyone who does not love this one.
"Pulp Fiction" is one of those legendary movies that you're pretty much required to watch, if you consider yourself a movie buff. Instant classic.
And while he's gone for over-the-top spectacle in his recent movies, "Pulp Fiction" is Quentin Tarantino at his leanest and tightest -- a series of intertwined shorts about boxers, mobsters, thieves and assassins. But despite the dark subject matter, it's a deliciously funny movie with a lot of quotable dialogue and endless pop culture references.
But it's also very hard to summarize, because it doesn't really follow a linear narrative. The stories bounce forward and backward in time, only loosely connected by a few important characters. It starts with a pair of professional thieves, "Pumpkin" (Tim Roth) and "Honey Bunny" (Amanda Plummer) discussing a robbery. Yes, this is actually important, so be patient.
Then the narrative switches over to hit men Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), who chitchat on their way to kill someone and retrieve a mysterious briefcase, on behalf of their gangster boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Soon after, Vincent is ordered to keep Marsellus' wife Mia (Uma Thurman) entertained, but the evening takes a dark turn.
Meanwhile, a boxer named Butch (Bruce Willis) is hired by Marsellus to take a dive... but instead he accidentally kills his opponent. When retrieving his heirloom watch from his apartment, Butch ends up running afoul of Marsellus -- only for both of them to end in a horrendous situation in the back room of a pawnshop.
Finally (going back to the second subplot), Jules and Vincent's job is derailed by a bizarre shooting that may involve divine intervention. And after a freaky accidental shooting, they end up having to call in an expert to help them avoid any kind of weird attention... which steers them towards an unexpected confrontation.
"Pulp Fiction" isn't a simple watch-it-from-beginning-to-end movie -- the narrative is more a Möbius strip. The timeline is all over the place, and sometimes it feels more like a string of short films that have been taken apart, rearranged, and given important characters who show up in multiple segments (Marsellus is important in every part).
It's also wildly, wickedly funny. Despite all the death, cussing and gruesome injuries, Tarantino presents much of the story in a tongue-in-cheek way -- just consider the scene where Jules and Vincent are forced to strip naked and be given a hose bath, then dressed in goofy casual-wear. How many movies have hit-men chatting about TV pilots, foot massages and quarter-pounders with cheese on their way to kill someone?
And yes, the dialogue is absolutely glorious -- witty, tight and funny. Like many Tarantino movies, the characters tend to witter away, but it's surprisingly funny and quotable ("ENGLISH, mother****er! Do you speak it?... Say what again! I dare you! I double-dare you!"). Just don't play a drinking game with all the f-bombs, or you'll be dead before Butch's story is wrapped up.
It's hard to single out a single great performance in this movie, because it either made or revived the careers of pretty much everybody in it. Thurman, Roth, Rhames, Plummer, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel and the rest all give amazing performances, but my favorites were easily Willis as a desperate boxer with a very special watch, Travolta as a henchman who keeps screwing up, and Jackson as a hotheaded guy who spouts pseudo-Bible verses.
"Pulp Fiction" is one of THE rare movies that deserves its praise -- a pretzel-shaped film overflowing with wit and dark comedy. Definitely a must-see.
on January 29, 2004
Director Quentin Tarantino has for now 10 years been widly regarded as an over-night success for this, his breakthrough tale of irony and fate that effects the lives of a few distinct characters over a period of two days. Tarantino's puzzle-effect took this once 'Monster-Movie' script and morphed it's bold stories into 'Pulp Fiction'..A drama/Mystery Crime epic that made several actors synonymous with success; Bruce Willis, Samual L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Ving Rhames. Lead by one of America's most beloved actors, John Travolta, this film uses it's audiences' imagination and memory to commit the convictions and events of the lives of these characters to their utmost importance. In a three part drama; a boxer (Bruce Willis) refuses to throw a championship fight, and in turn is pursued with vengeance by his manager (Ving Rhames). This manager's drug-addicted young wife (Uma Thurman) is trusted for that particular night, in the hands of his trusted hitman (John Travolta). This hitman is endulging in his day-to-day, job-to-bloody job career in a binding yet conflicting relationship with his partner (Samuel L. Jackson). This friendship/partnership to me subtly pays homage to the partnerships of buddy-cop triumphs of the past on screen, and it's power is broken wide open by a gripping character-realization by Jackson in the final scene. The circle of these characters, binded by completely separate conflicts, loops itself in this brilliant screenplay so as to make every action and recourse of one scene relevant to the next. I have for years admired not only the beautifully delivered performances by John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson and Ving Rhames in this film, but more so Tarantino's unique piecing-together of the movie's plots. 'Irony' is the only word I can relate to the feel of this movie, and despite it's graphic dialogue and violence, the direction and acting power has the ability to overshadow 'Pulp Fiction's rough edge, and effect even those who have never watched it. Films like 'Pulp Fiction' must be extremely difficult to make, and for Tarantino to use this method of direction and writing, is the overwhelming successful technique that makes it stand out among look-alikes.
on December 28, 2003
Pulp Fiction has everything that being outstanding holds dear. Infact next time Im around Oxford-way, I am going to call in on their university and request that they introduce two new words into the English dictionary meaning Outstandingly outstanding, and those words would be PULP FICTION. It has everything, and more. A whole selection of some of the most talented actors in history, a supurb soundtrack that is one of those "must-buy" types, action, comedy, violence, romance, morals, three brilliant stories, excellently woven to create one epic masterpiece, and moments that will have you reaching for the rewind button. Infact, glanceing at the five stars I have given this movie, while writing this to you, i do not beleive they do the film justice. This is probably my favourate film of all time - and thats saying a hell of a lot. When this film was released in 1995, it became the most popular film of the year, smashing its rivals - Braveheart, Mortal Kombat, Forest Gump and Casino, and its even more popular now. The majority of critics had nothing but praise for this cult classic, and those that did set out to criticese it had only one ground on which to fight their "cause." They complained about the violence factor, after which Tarantino quite wrightly fought back with two responses. a) All the scenes including drugs and violence are shown to present serious consiquences to the people involved - showing us that these actions are wrong and that nothing good can come of them, and b) that compared to many other successful gangster movies "Pulp Fiction" lacks much distressing violence. However these complaints were without a doubt in the minority and Pulp Fiction still remains one of the most popular films ever created. Should you buy it on DVD? Huh - its worth buying a DVD player, just to buy this film on DVD. I give it 6 out of 5 stars!
on June 16, 2003
I absolutely love this movie; it is one of the few films that would be I would catch on cable late at night and I would find myself staying up just to finish watching it. I find it enjoyable on every viewing.
With that said, I was incredibly disappointed in the value of this box set when I bought it. First off, the packaging: The set contains 3 discs; two were devoted to the movie and one to the soundtrack. However, the box only contained *two* slots instead of three; the first disc of the movie actually was inserted inside the 16-page booklet as opposed getting its own slot.
The two discs devoted to the movie is that of the Special Edition of the movie that is available in stores. I expected that. What I didn't expect is that the third disc, the soundtrack disc, is only a 6-song CD. Even the original soundtrack released in 1994 had more material. I was hoping for the special collector's edition of the soundtrack that was released recently, but I did not even get the original soundtrack.
In addition to the 16-page booklet mentioned above, the only other special item that was included was a Senitype film frame. There is also a "free" mail-in poster offer, but it requires the consumer to pay $7.95 for shipping and handling.
Unless you really want the film frame, I recommend buying the Special Collector's Edition of the movie and soundtrack separately. You'll end up spending less and get more. You can probably buy the movie poster for less too.
This movie is part of the "Classic Collection." Although I do not own any other movies under that collection and for all I know the other sets may contain more bang for the buck, the experience I had with this set will get me to hesitate to purchase future selections in this collection in the future.
The 3 stars I give is strictly for the movie.
on August 18, 2002
The 1990's was a huge year for Writer, Director, Producer and Actor Quentin Tarintino. In 1992 he released his first major hit "Reservoir Dogs", in 1994 he released his Oscar winning "Pulp Fiction" and in 1997 he released the hit "Jackie Brown". (Not to mention his involvement in such films as "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Four Rooms", "Killing Zoe" and "Desperado"). But his greatest accomplishment had to be "Pulp Fiction". With jaw chewing dialouge, a dynamic cast and great directing, Pulp Fiction has deserved its "just rewards". The story actually tells three stories woven into one, including two "low rent" hit-men (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson), a last chance prize fighter (Bruce Willis) and a loving couple of robbers (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer). But that is'nt even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to who else is added into the mix. With other stars such as Christopher Walken, Eric Stoltz, Uma Thurman, Patricia Arquette, Ving Rhames, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel and of course Quentin Tarintino. This film has such notable sayings as ..., "Royale Wit Cheese", "Thats thirty-minutes away, I'll be there in ten", "I'm gonna get divorced. No marriage counselling, no trial separation, divorced",
"Correctamundo!", "Oh I'm Sorry, Did I Break Your Concentration?" and "Ezekiel 25:17: The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." The DVD Is Absolutely Loaded With Special Features On Two-Discs, Such As: Production notes, Deleted Scenes, Pulp Fiction: The Facts Original Documentary, Pulp Fiction Still Gallery, Behind-The-Scenes Montages, Production Design Featurette, Siskel & Ebert "At The Movies" - "The Tarantino Generation", Cannes Film Festival - Palm d'Or Acceptance Speech, Charlie Rose Show - Interview with Quentin Tarantino, Theatrical Trailers, 13 TV Spots and 2 Theatrical Trailers and Reviews and Articles. If you're looking for a movie that will give you a breath of fresh air, unlike movies with Nicolas Cage and Leonardo DiCaprio, then Pulp Fiction is the movie for you. If you're a loyal fan of the movie, then this DVD should be quite some treat for you!
on August 16, 2002
The movie is as great as ever (though its asethetic has been so thorougly integrated in mainstream culture that much of what was amazing when the film originally appeared is now less impressive). But either the director or Miramax (or both) are doing a disservice to the film's fans with this release. Aside from some fancy (but still uninteresting) packaging, there's little here besides the film itself - the musty "documentary" footage is run-of-the-mill infotainment, there are only a handful of extra scenes, and there is no audio commentary at all. Tellingly, the extra scenes are introduced by archival footage of Tarantino that's likely seven or eight years old, given that he references what other filmmakers do with the "laserdisc" versions of their movies. Given that Tarantino hasn't made a movie in five years, you'd assume that he would have time to jam this special edition with bells and whistles. Since he hasn't, you're better off buying the bare-bones version for half the price.