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06 December 2007

Pulp Fiction - ???????

Well I finally watched Pulp Fiction last night, and I must say that is one pointless movie. Here's an excerpt from the All Movie Guide attempting to describe the film's charms:
Updating the hard-boiled crime film with postmodern aplomb, and twisting movie time as adroitly as Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick, Tarantino weaves a morality play through a pop culture fun house drawn from sources as disparate as 1950s and 1970s kitsch, Jean-Luc Godard, Howard Hawks, boxing flicks, Hong Kong action movies, and Kiss Me Deadly (1955). The surreal yet realistic atmosphere, long takes, and wittily pop-literate non-stop dialogue emotionally engage the viewer in the minutiae of the characters' experience even as the film also comments on their status as pulp creations, rendering the moments of shockingly baroque violence simultaneously humorous and ghastly.
Well I don't get it. In Citizen Kane Welles twisted time because the story was about a reporter asking different people about Kane and so the scenes had to follow these peoples' stories - in other words, it made sense, while the "time-twisting" seems to have no justification other that to have critics (rapturously) comment on it. Welles's other good films - The Stranger, The Lady from Shanghai, and Touch of Evil - had beginnings, middles and ends, like normal movies. Kubrick? He made some whacked movies but I don't get the "time-twisting" reference with him, unless it refers to 2001 which was clearly intended to be accompanied by the copious consumption of cannabis. As far as drawing from disparate sources, isn't that another way of saying it's derivative? "Surreal yet realistic" - in other words, street characters behaving unrealistically and real-life situations unfolding preposterously. And what's the deal with 'long takes' - yeah, the opening sequence of Touch of Evil is pretty cool, given the technology of the late 50's, but who gives a fuck how often the director yells "cut" during filming? "Wittily pop-literate" - gangsters talking like English majors - the joke soon wears thin - "non-stop dialogue" - very thin. And I can't make heads or tails of the rest of the review. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying the film wasn't entertaining - it was - I'd put it on a par with, say, "Die Hard" in that regard.

Related: John Simon's review.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Gresham said...

When I hear the word postmodern, I reach for my revolver.

December 07, 2007 9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People were shittng their pants over this movie when it came out. I was in college at the time and remember thinking WTF, just a film. Entertaining, but nothing to shoot get your panties wet over. However, I did like the part when Marcellus Wallace lets Butch go for saving his life from those homo rapist guys. Very touching.

December 07, 2007 7:34 PM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Zeke:
I never saw the "greatness" of the movie either. It was mildly entertaining, had some funny lines and interesting character development but I certainly didn't view it as the "classic" that some did.
I think Tarrintino gets a great deal of "rope" and good vibe in Hollywood due to his (sincere) homage to Hollywood's golden era and old time values but I don't see him as a great film maker.
I think that if you compare "Pulp Fiction" to the Coen Bros' "Fargo" (similar semi-comedy, violent morality tale), the Coen Brothers win by a landslide.
No negativity to Tarrantino as he has parlayed his own bit of weirdness into a life and film career we can only dream of but I do think he gets too much credit and praise for most of his films based solely, or primarily, on the fact that it is "uncool" to criticize him. I don't attribute this to him but more to the Hollywood IN crowd.
Please see my pithy comments on the "dog song" blog spot that preceeds this.
Harlem

December 07, 2007 8:20 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Harlem, I agree - we shouldn't blame him - it's the fawning critics who lavish the praise that deserve our scorn. He makes a good movie - the timing, the scene set ups, all very well done, and quite entertaining.

About the rape scene, in movies today if you need to have some slovenly evil characters, a couple of crackers is the way to go - no danger of offending anyone who matters.

December 07, 2007 10:12 PM  
Blogger Black Sea said...

I realize this may be stating the obvious, but the rape scene in PF is apparently a homage to the famous scene in Deliverance.

Wow, that's art!!

The best scene in PF is Travolta and Thurman dancing, where they do that move with the spilt fingers over the eyes. I liked that. I don't remember most of the rest of the movie, and I have a video of it lying around somewhere.

I blame Tarantino because I think he's full of it, and I'm tired of these hyper-caffinated, bug-eyed, middle-aged adolescents hogging time on my TV screen.

Of course, I guess I could just turn the thing off.

December 08, 2007 10:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pulp Fiction was a hit in 1994. Believe it or not, America was more green in 94' than it is now. I sat through the movie at the theater thinking "did he just say/do/intimate THAT???".

Eddie Murphy's RAW was a big hit in 87', but it didn't age well. I couldn't believe anyone could cuss like that in a movie, but despite three or four funny jokes, its pretty lame stuff.

The Christopher Walken scene, although not as funny as Walken's other big "Tarantino" scene in the outright bad movie TRUE ROMANCE, was funny precisely because of the "I cannot believe that was the punchline" bravado of actually shooting THAT scene as tasteless as it was. It was the -audacidty- that made the movie attention hogging at the time. It would not be nearly as revered now as it was then.


Ziel,
I too, have tired of movies concerned with various low-lifes and ne'r-do-wells. I used to room with a cop back in my early twenties who got to deal with scum-bags all the time. There is nothing interesting about them. No jailhouse poets or closet intellectuals amongst them. Boring lot with nada to say, despite movie portrays that indicate otherwise.

December 08, 2007 10:43 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

My guess is that Tarantino originally planned to show the movie with a straightforward chronology, but eventually realized that killing off John Travolta with an hour to go wrecked the charm of the film, so he just did a couple of splices to get his most likable character back in toward the climax and, voila, a postmodern masterpiece!

As Woody Allen has pointed out, when it comes to postmodern mechanics, Bob Hope's movies from the late 1940s are as postmodern as you can get.

December 13, 2007 7:13 PM  
Anonymous jimbo said...

Ziel, I can just see your daughters rolling their eyes reading your comments on a film that came out, what, 13 years ago? Anyway, you just don´t get it... Totally L7.

If you get a chance, look up on YouTube the clip of Tarantino analyzing the gay theme of Top Gun... I´m not sure what film it´s from, but it´s a riot... Go to bed Dad...

January 05, 2008 3:30 AM  
Anonymous Inversiones en petroleo said...

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April 29, 2011 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Generic Cialis said...

this is the first time that I find Uma so attractive, in this movie she look that black wig, and with the cigarrette in her hand, and her look, without words!!!

May 17, 2011 4:24 PM  

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