Matinee: Pulp Fiction

September 1, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another member of seemingly untouchable films, is Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to the criminal underworld, the highly quotable Pulp Fiction. Like many others I was initially blow away by Pulp Fiction’s originality and brilliance, Tarantino’s use of the non-linear narrative to an extremely high standard, heavily influenced the way people made films after its release in 1994. And for the next 17 years, cinema-goers enjoyed and sometimes merely survived the thousands of Tarantino imitators. But, it is just Tarantino who is a great imitator?

I am in two-minds about my overall opinion of Pulp Fiction and indeed Tarantino’s work as a whole, is the man a complete cinematic genius or a complete cinematic fraud. Tarantino has repeatidly commented on how cinema is his life and his enthusiasm for movies is unparalled. Taking this fact into the equation, I am slowly coming to the conclusion that his original and pioneering post-modern directing style, isn’t original at all, but a clear amalgamation of the styles of others. A bit of Scorsese, Leone, Godard, Kubrick and De Palma, multiply them all together and you’ve got yourself Quentin Tarantino. You can’t help who your influences are and they are always going to show up in your work, we all need a blueprint to work off. However, Tarantino’s work borders on the line between orignality and imitation. Tarantino’s blatant homage to cinema and his constant subtle references are only pleasing one man, Tarantino. Tarantino is a selfish and narcissitic film maker, he is a cinematic kleptomaniac, who picks his favourite moments, techniques, songs, plotlines, images, anything and eveything from film and incorporates them into his own work, as if he was Burglar Bill. Pulp Fiction and indeed some of other films such as Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill series are just a patch work quilt of his cinematic influences and have thus become a film studies student’s holy grail. As Tarantino’s work continues to be over-analysed by students wanting to be put him on a pedestal, and hail Pulp Fiction as his Citizen Kane, we will be bombarded with brand new film makers with this same recycled style and not establish themselves with a directing style of their own, they will just be a shoddy copy of the guy before them. Like Tarantino? Maybe so.

Tarantino’s real talent lies in is his writing. He wholeheartedly deserved his Academy Award for the screenplay for Pulp Fiction. Even with its flaws, Pulp Fiction’s storyline and dialogue are extremely exciting, slick and it’s because of this exciting and fresh dialogue, its what makes Pulp Fiction highly quotable. Even though the conversations in Pulp Fiction are extremely un-realistic, I mean who talks like any of the characters, nobody, nobody talks like that, but its because of the ridiculous nature of the dialogue that makes it wonderfully quotable, as if you were singing one of your favourite songs. Although Tarantino’s awkard and embarrasing attempt at pillow talk and romance about pot bellies and oral sex and his ceremonial soliloquies that seem endless ruin the joie de vivre of his script, we are rewarded with such brilliance as Winston Wolf and The Bonnie Situation, which is just a marvellous moment that seems to lift the story at  the point where you think it’s getting a bit slow and the opening ten minutes from Tim Roth is the best thing in the whole film, I usually zone out after that moment. Pulp Fiction is a great black comedy, not a drama, not a thriller. But the blackest of comedies because of its cartoon like characters, ridiculous dialogue and Tarantino’s razor sharp wit and his unexpected comedy and sense of humor is all over this film, when Bruce Willis is considering his weapon of choice to dispatch of the two redknecks and Marvin getting his head blown clean off, that is comedy at its darkest. I can’t knock his brilliance as a writer.

Quentin Tarantino, love him or hate him. You can’t deny the fact that he is a sincerely important film maker. He opened the door for movie lovers to make their own movies. He’s evidence to the fact that all you really need to know about film making is in films. But contrary to popular belief, Pulp Fiction is not flawless, it is not the greatest film ever made, it’s not even the greatest film of the 1990’s and its not even Tarantino’s best for that matter. Quentin Tarantino continues get better with each film he makes and he is still an exciting and pioneering, working film maker and he seems to have learnt the lesson on why he shouldn’t cast himself in his motion pictures, he’s no Woody Allen. On that note I’m going for a Big Kahuna burger and a Red Apple cigarette.

Image courtesy of toutlecine.com

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