Written by Quentin Tarantino
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, and Bruce Willis.
- ”Pulp Fiction: The Facts” documentary
- Tarantino interview from The Charlie Rose Show
- Production design featurette
- Behind-the-scenes montage
- Siskel & Ebert At The Movies: “The Tarantino Generation”
- Deleted scenes
- Trailers and TV spots
- Cannes Film Festival Palme d’Or acceptance speech
- Independent Spirit Awards interviews
- 8 still galleries
- Reviews and articles
- DVD-ROM features, including screenplay viewer and “open mic” commentary
My advice: Get it or we’ll have to get medieval on your ass.
Two thieves, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Roth and Plummer), are holding up a diner. Two hit men, Vincent and Jules (Travolta and Jackson), are just out doing their jobs, working for a head burrito gangster, Marsellus (Rhames). A boxer, Butch (Willis), is having issues with said gangster. Marsellus' woman, Mia (Thurman), needs to be shown a good time. Lance (Stoltz) has a very big needle. Mr. Wolf (Keitel) is a master at cleaning up things. And Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) has a very special timepiece. What does this all have to do with anything? Oh, but watch...
Tarantino’s magnum opus, Pulp Fiction, hit the film world like a bomb in 1994. Immediately, his place in the list of top-notch directors was secured, and the pop culture collective consciousness absorbed the movie and spit it back out in catchphrases and attitudes. Several scenes were more often parodied and referenced than any other film had ever been.
Lauded by critics and receiving awards from Cannes to Sundance, the movie was one of the biggest hits of the year. If you’re Gen X and haven’t seen it, you’re in danger of having your license to angst and pop cultural cross-reference revoked. The only potentially negative impact of the film lies in the resurrection of John Travolta’s acting career.
Tarantino’s story unfolds in a handful of directions at once, following the action of all its characters with no regard to temporal continuity or linear narrative. It is perhaps in this regard that the film was most innovative, and the non-linear shotgun approach to storytelling remains associated with Tarantino.
The performances are outstanding, though given the script’s dialogue, that’s not particularly surprising. Jackson and Travolta have an excellent on-screen chemistry, and then-newcomer Ving Rhames was the perfect soul of gangster menace as Marcellus Wallace. Bruce Willis’ turn as the down-and-out boxer looking to make a big score before retirement was similarly spot-on. The ensemble cast simply hums through every scene, playing off each other and the lush dialogue excellently.
The DVD presents the film beautifully, with crisp color and a nice audio mix that plays up the well-chosen soundtrack. The features are thick, though the absence of a commentary track is a bit puzzling. Everything from awards show acceptance speeches to the first spate of reviews to hit the airwaves following the film’s debut is here, and it presents an incredible context for the film’s success. Watching the interviews and surrounding materials gives a better sense of the legend that is the film better than any review ever could.
In short, unless you were living in a cave or in a coma in 1994, you’re probably at least passingly familiar with the movie. Most likely you saw it, and, as with most viewers, you either loved it for its disjointed non-linear charm, or the experience was off-putting and too “nouveau” for your tastes. If you didn’t like it, I highly recommend renting the DVD, watching the extras, and giving it another chance. If you did like it, then Pulp Fiction belongs in a place of honor in your DVD collection.
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