A Tarantino Trawl: Pulp Fiction

This September it’ll be 5 years since I first saw the film that changed my life. I’ll always remember flicking through the channels late one night and happening upon Pulp Fiction just as it was starting on BBC1. Recalling my cousins suggestion that I should watch it after being rather unimpressed with Inglourious Basterds (My first Tarantino experience. More on that in a few weeks though) I decided to stay up till the early hours of Saturday morning just to watch it. And to this day it will be one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.

Pulp Fiction is a beautiful mess of a film. My first viewing confused me so much, what with Tarantino’s presentation of the jumbled up story-line. But I knew I’d just witnessed something special. From that day on I have and will always cite Pulp Fiction as my all time favourite film. Whilst I understand there are plenty of other films just as good and at times even better than it, there’ll never be another film that sits so close to my heart.

With a cast including John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel, Tarantino’s mobster epic has enough to please anyone in its 153 minute run-time. Travolta and Jackson’s storyline of a day in the life of two gangsters is spliced perfectly within the story of Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge attempting to do over gangster boss Marsellus Wallace in a fixed boxing match.

Each mini story in Pulp Fiction weaves effortlessly between themselves and gives plenty of shocks as well as plenty of laughs. Most of this is of course due to Tarantino’s flawless script, but praise must also be given to the late Sally Menke for her fantastic work in the editing suite. Having already proven herself a worthy ally to Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs, Menke outdoes her last performance by pulling off the editing of Pulp Fiction. Imagining anyone else pulling off such a feat in the same way is near impossible.

I can’t end this review without mentioning one of the greatest moments of Pulp Fiction. Whilst there are plenty of moments and scenes which can be picked out of the film to be discussed at length easily enough, such as Samuel L Jackson’s ‘The path of the righteous Man’ Bible quote or John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s dance scene to Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell, the one stand out moment for me has got to be that of Christopher Walken’s scene. Tarantino gives us a fantastically written three page monologue in the form of a story about two men, the Korean war and a gold watch. And Walken gives an equally fantastic performance as he tells the story brilliantly. It’s not surprising that Tarantino decided to keep the camera on him during the whole speech. Walken demands your attention from beginning to end.

Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece in every way possible. Whilst it’s not a film that can be watched constantly over and over again, it IS a film that deserves to be seen once and revisited again and again from then on. After only five years since my initial viewing, it has become an old friend and whether I watch it a year later or ten years later, the experience will be nothing short of magnificent.

 

Next week I’ll be looking back at Jackie Brown so keep a lookout for that. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not giving the films in this batch of reviews a mark out of 5 because I can tell you right now that each and every one of Tarantino’s directed films gets a 5 from me.

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A Tarantino Trawl: Reservoir Dogs

It seems that, in the past year or two, my interest in not only writing about, but watching films has somewhat lessened. So in a pitiful attempt to bring back my love for movies, I figured I’d finally try my hand at writing about the work of the man who became my cinematic God back in 2009 when I first laid my eyes on Pulp Fiction.

But before Pulp Fiction, it seems only right that I tackle Tarantino’s first feature length. Of course if I were doing this properly I would start at the very beginning with Four Rooms. But maybe we’ll come back to that later…

Released in 1992, Reservoir Dogs very quickly became a much discussed film after screening at Sundance. And rightly so. It’s an extremely powerful film to kick off ones feature length directorial CV. From it’s opening scene in which Tarantino’s character, Mr Brown discusses the music of Madonna whilst Steve Buscemi’s Mr Pink explains why he doesn’t believe in tipping, right through to it’s mexican stand off conclusion, Tarantino gives us plenty of gems which, even 21 years after release, are still discussed and debated.

Reservoir Dogs 1

 

No doubt the most memorable of scenes is that of Michael Madsen’s sadistic Mr Blonde torturing a cop whilst dancing to Stuck In The Middle by Steeler’s Wheel. A scene that quickly attached itself to the song and will forever be remembered together. Madsen’s portrayal of Mr Blonde is incredibly performed. From the second he enters the film, having been watching in the background as Mr White and Mr Pink argue like an old married couple, he brings about an air of, simply put, coolness about him.

However the real stars of Reservoir Dogs, for me at least, are Harvey Keitel and Tim Roth as Mr. White and Mr. Orange respectively. Throughout the course of the film their relationship blossoms from professional to an almost father/son connection as White protects a dying Orange. Although, with the way in which Tarantino lays out the timeline of his screenplay, it’s the father/son relationship we see moreso than the professional one.

In regards to the story, Reservoir Dogs certainly isn’t the most original story Tarantino has come up with. However he does manage to bring the traditional heist plot with a fresh twist. Not showing the heist at all and instead focusing on the aftermath of the failed attempt. Tarantinos quick paced script with it’s hefty dialogue will make you rush to keep up and have you thoroughly entertained as you try to figure out who the undercover cop is.

Not much can be said these days about Reservoir Dogs that hasn’t already been said. However the main reason I wrote this is just to bring back my absolute love and adoration for films. If you haven’t seen Reservoir Dogs seek it out. It’s on Netflix so you have no excuse really.

Do feel free to comment with any suggestions on other reviews you’d like. I’m planning to come back to this more than I used to so if you’d like me to look back over any other directors when I’m done with Tarantino, let me know. I’ll be back probably in a week or so (Maybe sooner) with Pulp Fiction. And I may put some other stuff up in the mean time…