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Original Film Poster

1994 film by director Quentin Tarantino

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It's Pulp! It's Fiction! It's Pulp Fiction!

  • Nov 25, 2007
Pros: Winston Wolfe!

Cons: Getting shot on a toilet is undignified

The Bottom Line: Pretty please, with sugar on top, watch the f***in' movie

Pulp Fiction will not be an easy movie to write about. By trying, I'm stepping way out of my comfort zone. Pulp Fiction is considered one of the all-time greats, and it was a revelation to me back when I first watched it in 1995. But now the time has come for me to talk about just why I think of Pulp Fiction as one of the all-time greats, and I'm not entirely certain I can do that. On this site, the arguments it just is and I just liked it really aren't enough. Hopefully, by trying to write about it, I'll be able to stumble into an answer myself.

Director Quentin Tarantino earned something of a schlock reputation since directing Pulp Fiction. His career isn't exactly a mess, but its mostly been an endless series of experiments. He directed the highly underrated Jackie Brown, a soulful crime movie based on Elmore Leonard's book Rum Punch. He went mum for a few years to bang Mira Sorvino, then came back to the tune of a two-part movie called Kill Bill, a fancy elevation of camp, comic books, b-movies, and ultraviolence stylishly pumped into a form of art. He's directed an episode of CSI, a scene in the popular Sin City, and the second half of a double-bill feature called Grindhouse. He's certainly not afraid to have fun with a medium that's given him inspiration from all over the map. It's been a lot of fun watching him develop as a filmmaker, because you never know which way he's going to go next. All you know is that you're not going to be able to prophesize it.

Back when Pulp Fiction was made, Tarantino was looking like the hip new gangster director in town with the overrated Reservoir Dogs and this under his belt. Pulp Fiction is about gangsters simply being gangsters. It is not an epic chess match, like The Godfather. It's not a penetrating look into the lifestyle, like Goodfellas was. Pulp Fiction gives us a non-linear telling of a couple of days in the lives of an interconnected group of people. There are a handful of different stories here: The introductory story is about two hitmen, Vince and Jules, who are out to retrieve a mysterious briefcase for their boss, the menacing Marcellus Wallace. After that, we get a story about Vince taking Marcellus's gorgeous wife out to entertain her. We then get a story about a boxer on the run from Marcellus. It all wraps up with a story about the immediate aftermath of the hit Vince and Jules perform in the beginning. The stories are told in that order, which was clever because it left the real ending of the movie - which is given in the story about the golden watch and is actually fairly bleak - ditched in favor of a much more positive and open-ended conclusion.

The feeling you get from watching Pulp Fiction is that, despite all other movie evidence to the contrary, gangsters are people too. Tarantino isn't directing this thing with a moral code or a life lesson in mind. An argument for a morality lesson could be made in favor of Jules, who in the end of the movie leaves Marcellus's service and is never heard from again, leaving us to speculate on the fate that was left to him. But or the most part, Pulp Fiction is merely a series of coincidences taking place within the lives of a small group of people. They have no backgrounds and we don't want them to. They're just here, existing in their little universe to the consequence of no one beyond their little web. Lives are changed in minor ways in the movie: Examples include Bruce Willis's boxer character being given an important heirloom by Christopher Walken in one of the movie's best scenes, Marcellus Letting Willis off the hook for killing a rapist but telling him to leave town anyway, and Jules having a spiritual revelation which changes his life. But even these are presented as little inconveniences in a larger picture. Even in its violence, Pulp Fiction plays it as another day. Vincent meets his ultimate fate by surprise while on the can, and when Marcellus's wife accidentally overdoses (she also mistakes Vince's heroin for cocaine and sniffs it), she shrugs it off saying she'd be in trouble if she told Marcellus.

Quentin Tarantino won the Oscar for best screenplay with Pulp Fiction, which was justifiable. The story of the movie is developed through the characters in a very unique fashion. Usually, movie dialogue tends to revolve strictly around the plot. But since Pulp Fiction basically has no plot, he lets the characters just talk about anything that comes to their heads. Vince and Jules are first seen talking about the little differences between the United States and a foreign country Vince recently visited. Bruce Willis discusses the meaning of his name with a cabbie. Vince discusses a rumor he heard through the grapevine with Uma Thurman (who plays Marcellus's wife). I recently read a book about real gangster life by Joseph Pistone, the undercover agent known for his work under the alias Donnie Brasco. In it, Pistone said it's not unusual for gangsters to ask each other where to go for dinner after a hit. The characters in Pulp Fiction lead you to believe they would do such a thing.

While John Travolta (as Vincent), Samuel L. Jackson (as Jules), Uma Thurman, and Bruce Willis get top billing because they have the biggest roles, the supporting cast is to be credited for making the movie what it is. Christopher Walken plays an Air Force officer who presents a young version of the Bruce Willis character with the golden watch and walks away with at least half of the movie in his back pocket. Eric Stoltz plays Vince's drug dealer, who freaks out when he sees Uma Thurman after her overdose. Ving Rhames, who has such a powerful presence he can steal scenes just by appearing in them, plays Marcellus with a menacing aura. But for my money, the best bit player in the movie was Harvey Keitel, a fix-it man named Winston Wolfe who helps Jules and Vince after Vince accidentally shoots a guy in the face. In this movie filled with memorable dialogue, Keitel gets the best line. When he's chided by one of the hitmen for not being nice enough, he explains the situation he's in. Then to satisfy him, he says So pretty please, with sugar on top, clean the f***in' car.

Pulp Fiction looks like pulp: The film's look sometimes looks like the negatives were run through a sander. It works well with the tone of the movie. Tarantino obviously drew heavy influences from Martin Scorsese. Both directors use sudden, one-and-done violence and pay close attention to their music. I wonder if Tarantino ever dreamed while making Pulp Fiction that his movie would one day be uttered in the same breath as Scorsese's better movies. But this doesn't matter. Just go to your local McDonald's for a Royale with cheese and fries with mayo and pop Pulp Fiction into whatever you use to watch movies these days. You won't regret it.


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November 18, 2010
Excellent review
More Pulp Fiction reviews
review by . November 07, 2010
One of the all time best
   This is my favourite film, and in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. Every time I watch it, I can't find a single flaw. From the diner at the beginning, through to Brett's apartment, Butch's fight, Vince Vega's night out, right through to the hostage situation, it's perfectly scripted, plotted and paced.      Quentin Tarantino, my favourite director after this and Reservoir Dogs, is at his finest with this staggering film. Every camera move …
review by . May 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     If there's anyone to take pop culture and flip it to a whole other side, it's Quentin Tarantino. In a world of darkness and unoriginality in the film industry, Tarantino is there to remind us of what cinema is all about; and he does this just about every time he makes a movie. He has made great films, although "Pulp Fiction", a film which is almost unanimously known as a masterpiece, is his best. And it's also one of the best films I have seen as of now, …
review by . July 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is by far my favorite movie of all time.  I have to admit I only saw it for the first time a few years ago but have loved it ever since.  I watch it a ton and it makes me laugh every time.  I really love all the different story lines and how Tarantino ties them together.  It's fascinating that you never find out what is in the briefcase too.  I love Sam Jackson and although I am not a huge fan of John Travolta, I love the two of them together.  I think they …
Quick Tip by . August 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tarentino is the bomb! I especially love the several situational vignettes he uses in the movie. Love the dialogue in this movie. Great acting as well!!!
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
aahhhaaaa i finally get it! after my third time watching it the plot finally caught up to me lol
Quick Tip by . August 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The wonderful 2nd feature & surely his milestone that will never be bettered.
Quick Tip by . August 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tarantino's blockbuster drama in 94 was hyped to me to the point that it could only fail. It has it's moments for me but it's writing and energy impressed legions and inspired numerous knockoffs for years to come as well as inspiring the way movies are looked at and made. I acknowledge all of this, but still got rubbed the wrong way with it's graphic drug use. If I'm brave I will watch it again.
review by . March 18, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Opening Titles
WARNING: This review contains spoilers!   Note: In my summary of the plot I have put the film's story into chronological order so that events unfold sequentially. This is not the order in which the events of the film are actually shown.   After the unexpected success of his first film, Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino set out to create his follow-up film, Pulp Fiction, which would prove to be a milestone in his career and would become one of the best films of the decade. Pulp Fiction …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Def. a Modern Classic. QT is on key with his second direction.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Alot of people talk about how this movie revitalized John Travolta's career, but the best parts of this movie are the roles played by Harvey Kietel and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie may push the limits for some viewers, but whatever reality it is in which this story takes place, it is an interesting place to watch. A solid movie.
About the reviewer
Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #19
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … more
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About this movie


Pulp Fiction
is a crime drama film released on October 15, 1994 and produced by Miramax Films. The film was directed and written by QuentinTarantino and assisted by Rober Avary.  Pulp Fiction was produced by Lawrence Bender, and starred John Travolta, Uma Thurman, BruceWillis, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette and Christopher Walken.

Pulp Fiction tells the story of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife and a pair of diner bandits that intertwine in four cases of violence.  After its release the film received 40 nominations, and celebrated 43 wins and an Academy Award in 1995for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directy for the Screen.

 It was given an MPAA rating of R and runs 154 minutes.

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