Pulp Fiction (1994)

by George Watches Things

****

What? Two and a half hours just went by? No way.

Pulp Fiction is about a group of people who engage in illegal activities. You have Vincent, the drug-addicted hitman (John Travolta). His partner is Jules, an assassin who quotes the Bible (Samuel L. Jackson). Their boss is Marsellus Wallace, and he does not look like a bitch (Ving Rhames). Wallace hired a boxer to throw a match, but instead of losing, that guy kills his opponent (Bruce Willis).

These are good people. They have consciences. They’re trying to do what they believe the right thing is. When the right thing changes because the character has been enlightened, they do whatever the new right thing is. They live by a strict moral code. Are there bad guys in this movie?

When Wallace’s wife (Uma Thurman) overdoses, Vincent drives her to his dealer’s house, parks on his lawn, and stabs her in the heart with adrenalin. Jules thinks the people he kills deserve it, but when Vincent accidentally shoots their assistant in the head, he begins to rethink things. (This of course, leads to the greatest final half-hour of a film I may have ever seen.) Marsellus and the boxer put aside their bloody feud to mutilate some hypocritical racist rapists. These characters manage to be very likable. And their interactions feel very real.

Even though the film is told in episodes, it flows, thanks to a nonlinear narrative. The death of one of the characters not only puts a time on everything, but also shows us the consequences of the games these people play. I’m being vague so as not to give away any secrets, but… the reason only one character dies at that point is because another character had his reversal. And the shifting timeline helps keep that at the end. It’s genius.

This movie was crazy. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

Notes:

  • “What’s a ***** gonna do? He’s Samoan.”
  • “He gave her a foot massage.”
  • “Nobody kills anybody at my place of business except me or Zed.”
  • “What now? Lemme tell you what now.”
  • “Zed’s dead, baby.”
  • “Aww man, I shot Marvin in the face!”
  • “I’m the one that buys it. I know how good it is!”
  • “Lotsa cream, lotsa sugar.”
  • “Clean up all those pieces of skull.”
  • “A please would be nice.”
  • “So you decided to be a bum?”
  • “I didn’t hear you?” “Yeah you did.”
  • “What’s Fonzie like?”
  • “Yolanda! Point the gun at me!”
  • If you see and enjoy Pulp Fiction, you should also check out Double Indemnity and Gaslight.
  • Next time: my combined review of Win Win and The Fighter.
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