Pulp Fiction

Some times watching Pulp Fiction is like viewing a DVD with the random chapter feature activated.

For sane, rational people, time moves in one direction, ever forward. We are used to a story possessing a beginning, middle and an end, in that particular order. Quentin Taratino is not like most directors in this respect. For him time is a device to use, a parameter to be altered to achieve the affect he desires. Some times watching Pulp Fiction is like viewing a DVD with the random chapter feature activated. Still, you watch, not sure at first where or when you are in respect to the characters.

Pulp Fiction open and closes with basically the same scene. A moderate size dinner where a man and woman are finishing dinner over a cup of coffee. Young and in love, Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and boyfriend Pumkin (Tim Roth) are feed up with the low takes in recent robberies. They plan for a better life by robbing dinners like the one the are in. After they finish their coffee and share a tender little kiss they proceed to rob the place. (A careful look at the background action during this scene will show Vincent Vega (John Travolta) getting up to go to the bathroom). As the steel strings of an electric guitar twang out the sound track we are catapulted from scene to scene on a roller coaster ride around the universe of Tarantino.

Like many creative people, Quentin Tarantino seems to have formed his own little world and populated it with strange and unusual characters. Several of his films seem to share in this little world. For example, in Reservoir Dogs, Tarantino’s first film, there is a mention of a character named Alabama. This is a reference to the female lead in True Romance. Also in Reservoir Dogs one of the crooks is Vic Vega, apparently the brother of hit man Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. There are many such details that are consistent throughout many of Tarantino’s movies, it adds to the familiarity of his films and helps us to identify with the characters, even the ones we would not like to be.

By now most people know the story line behind Pulp Fiction. Actually, it is more correct to say the three main story lines in Pulp Fiction. First, there is the one alluded to above, the tale of Honey Bunny and Pumpkin, small time thieves looking for that big score. Then there is Jules and Vincent (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta), two hit men employed by big time gangster Marsellus Wallace (masterfully placed by Ving Rhames). Add to this mix a broken down pug of a boxer Butch played by Bruce Willis. The stories are not presented in chronological order. The are woven into a tapestry of a tale that is almost verbal in nature. When a person tells a story they often have to go back to a previous point to clarify a detail or interject an aspect of the tale that was previously omitted. This is how Pulp Fiction comes across. It starts off in one direction and then abruptly changes course to another detail, another character or a different view of a previously shown scene. You will have to see this film several times before you begin to get all the references, see all the details but each time you view this movie you will come away with something different from what you expected.

Aside from the high caliber main cast, the supporting actors are fantastically cast and their parts are well written. Among these are Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel. The bizarre world of Tanratino is populated by equally strange and bizarre characters, each with their own tale to tell and a place in each other’s lives. Many of these actors have worked with Tarantino before and it shows. He directs this upper stratum of Hollywood’s finest with elan, and flair. There is nothing easy about the construction of the scenes here. Each scene is a wonder of camera angles, background detail and dialogue. They fit together like some giant jigsaw puzzle. You know what the picture will look like but the enjoyment is getting there. Tarantino alters the pace often during the over two hours you are visiting his universe. One moment Vince and Jules are discussing hamburgers in Europe, the next minute they are blasting their way through a small apartment. There is even a classic ‘McGuffin’ (A Hitchcock term for something, usually a prop, that drives and motivates the characters but means little or nothing to the viewers.) with the mysterious, glowing briefcase and the ominous 666 combination.

The Pulp Fiction DVD is of high quality both with audio and video. Unfortunately, the American release does not contain extras. This is a major disappointment but not a reason to forego this neo-classic DVD. The sound shouts out at you. The bullets, the click of a lighter, the fall of footsteps all are so real you will believe you are an eyewitness to the events. The jacket states that the movie is Dolby Surround but my player detected Dolby Digital 5.1. It turns out that the box is incorrect and the disc is Dolby 5.1. There is very little except ambient sounds coming from the rear so the 5.1 effects are very mimimal. The sound is still so clear that you will enjoy it. All in all Pulp Fiction is a must have but it would be better if the studio provided the added features found elsewhere.

Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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