Film Review: Pulp Fiction

Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is one of the loudest culture-vehicle films, like Lucas’ American Graffiti, and takes an entertaining spin on the gangster genre. It stars John Travolta as gangster Vincent Vega, and his partner Jules, played by Samuel L. Jackson in one of his most iconic roles. The way the movie is structured, it flips around to different story-lines and then returns to the older ones, while sometimes seeing them in the scene of another character.  It features Bruce Willis as a paid Boxer, and Uma Thurman as the boss’ sassy and drug-drawn wife, like Elvira in Scarface.

The scene of Vincent and Jules parked in front of an apartment complex, opening the trunk for their guns, reveals how Tarantino deconstructs the gangster flick. He wants people to hear their conversations up to the action of killing-not just the bloody action itself. But he also shows no wisdom or intellect for their gangsters–though often hilarious–Vincent and Jules seem to be so stunted and familiar with killing to the point of it feeling like their delivering a pizza. They talk about rumors–and debate over trivial things–but when it comes time for the kill, they are no less than frightening. Jules recites a section from the bible, he says later just because it seems like a bad-ass thing to say, and Samuel L. Jackson pitches it out with sheer intensity.

Bruce Willis plays the Boxer, who betrays his dealings with Marcellus Wallace, Vincent and Jules’ boss, for a deal on another end, presumably for more money. But what turns out to be a sly and quick getaway for the boxer, he finds out later his girlfriend, an airhead sex-doll, has forgotten his most valued possession: his grandfather’s watch. He returns home to find it, amidst the gangster’s looking for him, and miraculously gets through the house without being shot. But then, when he is driving out of the city, he encounters Marcellus, the boss himself, walking across the street; this is definitely an ode to Hitchcock’s psycho, when the woman steals the banks’ money and finds the boss’ guilty-looking eyes prying into her as he walks across the street. But Marcellus doesn’t give an odd gaze, he opens fire.

The film is a strong entry into the gangster genre and shows Tarantino’s signature genre-blending style. Pulp Fiction delivers laughs, action, and memorable dialogue; a cult favorite, and a great, albeit immoral, showcase of a generation.

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