8/19/13: Pulp Fiction

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“Feel that? That’s what’s called an uncomfortable silence. Why do we feel it’s necessary to yak about crap in order to be comfortable?” I wanted you to feel uncomfortable because one of the emotions that Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction will evoke is discomfort; along with joy & laughter, squeamishness, nostalgia, and a wave of others.

Pulp Fiction takes place in L.A., over a period of just under 24 hours, except for one brief flashback memory of his childhood by Bruce Willis’ character, Butch. Willis plays the important supporting role of a professional boxer. John Travolta & Samuel L. Jackson co-star as hitmen Vincent & Jules, respectively. They work for the ruthless Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). His wife, Mia, is portrayed magnificently by Uma Thurman, who Tarantino refers to as his muse. The story is told out of sequence, a technique sometimes employed by Tarantino; and is presented in chapters. The basic plot centers around Vincent & Jules’ task at hand for Marsellus, and Marsellus’ business arrangement with Butch. But it’s character driven, not plot driven. We meet the characters & their tales are told in the various chapters as a result of their connection to a mysterious briefcase.   The movie is essentially a series of interwoven stories & really needn’t be viewed in the order Tarantino presents it, though that does add to its fascinating structure.

 pulp - Bruce          pulp - JT&SLJ          pulp - Marsellus          pulp - Mia

Quentin Tarantino not only directed Pulp Fiction, he also co-wrote the original screenplay. He shared an Oscar with Roger Avary for his efforts. It was nominated for an additional 6 Academy Awards in 1995 at the 67th Oscars: Best Picture; Director; Travolta for Actor; Jackson for Supporting Actor; Uma for Supporting Actress; and Editing.

 pulp - QT&RA

In the film, Jules quotes a 4 sentence passage from the Bible three times. Tarantino gives it authenticity by citing it by book, chapter & verse. However, only the last 2 lines of the passage are actually taken from Ezekiel 25:17. The first 2 are apocryphal: Made up but believable given the context of the phrase. And to me, it’s a perfect metaphor for Pulp Fiction: Once you suspend your disbelief, you accept the strange world you’re shown, despite the blatantly out-of-place elements in it. There will be a discussion following the movie where you can tell us about some of these elements you may have noticed, as well as your take on the film, characters, themes, etc. And Kyle will be doing some giveaways, so stick around. 

Tarantino named the film Pulp Fiction because it’s an homage to the pulp magazines, or pulp fiction, of the ‘20’s through ‘50’s. They were originally so named because they were comics printed on cheap, pulp paper which made them an affordable 10¢ by comparison to the 25¢ for the glossies of the time. The covers were lavishly artistic as exemplified by the mock pulp magazine poster for Tarantino’s motion picture. Their stories of criminals & detectives, sci-fi, and exotic places appealed to the increasingly literate masses of the era. The pulp genre in the movies includes Buck Rogers, Conan the Barbarian, Hopalong Cassidy, Zorro, Tarzan, and Quentin Tarantino’s 1994, 4-Star instant classic, Pulp Fiction!



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