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jueves, 10 de noviembre de 2011

Film reviews: Pulp Fiction

"There's this passage I've got memorized"

Introduction: why you have to love Pulp Fiction
The fact is that Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential 90s films. Don't even try to refute that. Critics adored the movie worldwide and gave it the Palme d'Or at Cannes Festival, among other prizes. There are so many things said about this film that it's difficult to tell something new about it or at least to pretend doing that. Let's see a list of reasons for revering Pulp Fiction:

1st Tarantino: the backbone of the film
Tarantino is Tarantino and Pulp Fiction is Tarantino. I find impossible to explain it better. He's a brilliant director and scriptwriter with a very marked signature omnipresent in his movies, most of them cult films: Reservoir Dogs, From Dusk till Dawn (script), Kill Bill, Grindhouse...  Quoting Charlie Rose, "you can take a lot of films made in America and you can say 'that's a well made film', but I can name three or four directors who could have made that film". This doesn't happen with Tarantino's best movies. Pulp Fiction is Tarantino and it's hard to think in another director who could have made it.

2n Cast selection
Tarantino knows how to choose the actors for his films. Samuel L. Jackson was an actor with a large amount of minor roles who met his big hit in Pulp. He was awarded by his part as Vegas' killmate Jules, a hell of a character. The mythical John Travolta (Saturday Night Fever, Grease) was already an unfairly-almost-forgotten movie star and his role as Vincent Vega stylishly bounced back his career. Likewise, Bruce Willis was a trendy actor because of films like Die Hard but he was suffering a little professional down. Some people disagreed with Bruce when he wanted to be the boxer Butch since they thought that Pulp would be a minor film. It turned out to be the opposite. As L. Jackson, Uma Thurman had her big hit in this film with a terrific, titillating interpretation of Mia Wallace.

The supporting characters aren't bad either. We have Harvey Keitel as Mr. Wolf, a suited man who "solves problems", or Tarantino himself as the angry friend with a wife that doesn't like to have bloody corpses at home.

3rd Script
Where does Pulp Fiction story fit? Hard to say. Neo-noir? Black comedy? The film pays homage to film noir and pulp magazines, AKA pulp fiction. These low-cost magazines contained violent stories and in fact the working title of this film was Black Mask, a pulp magazine with sordid, bloody, crime-related stories. The black film influence is clear, with a script based on criminals, their thoughts, their feelings and their "clash of interest". Indeed, almost every shot pays homage to these stories and the characters and situations are noir clichés: the couple of hitmans, the boxer expected to lose, the big mob boss' femme fatale wife, the taxi conversation...

However, all the topics are watched from a different standpoint of black humor and oddly natural situations. The little absurd details and the apparently spontaneous, silly chattering are another Tarantino's trademarks. Every script he writes is filled with off-topic details like the reflexion about burgers or the famous Reservoir Dogs' Madonna discussion; strange motifs like the mysterious briefcase or Jules' Bible passage; and funny, surrealistic ones like Vincent's death or the "shop basement situation", examples of violent black humor.

The timeline is a very Tarantino's one. There are three independent stories connected by the characters and mixed in non-chronological order. Non-linear storytelling is a feature of Tarantino's style and he uses this in other films like Kill Bill. Some people disagree with this way of film editing, but it's a fact that Quentin popularized it and the critics loved it and him at the time.

4th Music
Pulp Fiction has no traditional background music, since no song was especially recorded for the film. It consists in a mix of surf music, rock, pop and soul. We have two notable songs, the first being the opening theme. It's the rock surfer guitarist Dick Dale's cover of Misirlou, a popular Greek folk song. Who would have thought that the most representative song of Pulp Fiction has Greek origin. Compare this with the song below and with the original Dick Dale performance. Pretty different, isn't it? On the other hand, Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon is a cover of the rock band Urge Overkill and became popular because of its appearance in one of the scenes of the film, a hell of a scene with Uma Thurman dancing, Vincent bath-talking and drugs making life difficult.

5th Why not?
It's clear that Pulp Fiction is a 90s classic with a huge influence. I'm aware that not everyone likes Tarantino's films, but there are people that like Twilight. I hope I have made myself quite clear here. If you like good quality movies, the true cinema, you will appreciate the retro gem that this film is. You can love Pulp Fiction, its unique style with its hilarious funny moments and the brilliant noir ones, or hate it. Either feeling you have, it anyway means that the film didn't leave you indifferent. Pulp Fiction is a f*cking fucking adrenaline shot direct to the heart!

"Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack."