Pulp Fiction (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Roger Ebert said it this way:

"Quentin Tarantino is the Jerry Lee Lewis of cinema, a pounding performer who doesn't care if he tears up the piano, as long as everybody is rocking. His new movie "Pulp Fiction" is a comedy about blood, guts, violence, strange sex, drugs, fixed fights, dead body disposal, leather freaks, and a wristwatch that makes a dark journey down through the generations.  Like those old pulp mags named "Thrilling Wonder Stories" and "Official Detective," the movie creates a world where there are no normal people and no ordinary days - where breathless prose clatters down fire escapes and leaps into the dumpster of doom."

(Note: for a more detailed definition of the term "pulp fiction", see my comments about Jackie Brown)

Looking back on Pulp Fiction, it no longer seems so dazzlingly original because its influence has been felt in so many subsequent films. At the time, however, it was a one-film revolution. It has exerted such a powerful influence on the past few years, that we have been inundated with films with circular and interlocking stories. We have heard endless banal irrelevant and comically inappropriate dialogue. We are used to seeing John Travolta and Tim Roth among us. We know that Samuel L Jackson is a big star. None of those things were true before Pulp Fiction came along. (Travolta was a former star, for example.)

NUDITY REPORT

female: none!

male: Bruce Willis shows it all in a shower scene.

It would be interesting to hear how Tarantino decided to edit the final cut.

Obviously, the last thing that happens chronologically (since Travolta dies in that episode) is Willis and Medeiro's motorcycle ride to freedom, but that is not the end of the film.

The first thing that happens chronologically is Jackson and Travolta's conversation about "Royale with Cheese". That begins the first of the three stories, and we see that particular scene near the beginning of the film, but the entire story actually concludes at the end of the film, and the short interlude in the opening credits, featuring Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer, actually occurs chronologically at the end of the first story.

So the film is ordered like this:

  • End of Story 1, preview (Roth and Plummer)
  • Beginning of Story 1 (Royale with cheese)
  • Story 2 (Travolta and Thurman)
  • Story 3 (Willis)
  • Middle of Story 1 (Keitel)
  • End of Story 1, fleshed out (back to Roth and Plummer, now joined by Travolta and Jackson)

DVD info from Amazon

Production notes
Deleted Scenes
Pulp Fiction: The Facts Original Documentary
Pulp Fiction Still Gallery
Behind-The-Scenes Montages
Production Design Featurette
Siskel & Ebert "At The Movies" - "The Tarantino Generation"
Cannes Film Festival - Palm d'Or Acceptance Speech
Charlie Rose Show - Interview with Quentin Tarantino
Theatrical Trailers
13 TV Spots
Reviews and Articles
Widescreen anamorphic format, 2.35:1
 Number of discs: 2

Therefore, the stories are told in 1, 2, 3 order in one sense, except that story 1 is left hanging, to be continued after the other two are done. The scene which concludes the film - Jackson and Travolta leaving the restaurant in their "volleyball" clothes - actually occurs before the date with Thurman, which in turn occurs before the Willis/Medeira flight.

Travolta is in all three stories, but only makes a brief cameo appearance in the Willis story.

I don't have any objection to the final order. I think it works fine. But I'm wondering when and how the decision was made, because you'd think that at one time they probably intended it to end with Willis and Medeira on the chopper.

Trivia: Steve Buscemi plays a tiny role as Buddy Holly in Jack Rabbit Slim's diner.

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: four stars. Ebert 4/4 (included in "the great movies"), Berardinelli 4/4 (number one of 1994), BBC 5/5, filmcritic.com

  • Nominated for seven Oscars including Best Picture. Won only one: Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

  • Nominated for nine BAFTA awards, won two: Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor

  • won the Golden Palm at Cannes

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 8.6/10, #20 of all time.
  • with their dollars: a cash machine. Made for a modest $8 million dollars, it grossed $108 million in the USA and an additional $105 million elsewhere.

 

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a A. Must be, I guess. Probably the best-reviewed and most popular movie made in the past 40 years. It is also possible to argue that it is a C+ because the extreme levels of cussing and violence keep it from being a universally adored film, and I can't see where it would be adored by the family values set, so that would argue to classify it as a brilliant genre film rather than as a treasured masterpiece. But either way, it is certainly some kick-ass, passionate, energetic, imaginative filmmaking.

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