94. Pulp Fiction (1994)

“The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.”

Violence and redemption’s definitely the words I would use.

The movie began, and the main title appeared on the screen, and I couldn’t help but smile. I’ve only seen this film twice before, but the opening titles have always made me smile. It’s not that their nice or funny or kindhearted or anything along those lines. It’s just that the opening scene sets the tone of the film so well, that it just makes me happy.

One of the most intriguing things about this film, in my opinion, is that the hit men have such normal conversations pretty much all of the time. The reason this is odd is because these very normal conversations take place while they are on their way to kill somebody, and after they have killed somebody. This throws the viewer through a loop, as it is weird to think that “normal conversations before a kill” may actually be a thing. These conversations immediately connected the viewer to the hit men Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield. Before we even knew who they were or what they did for a living, we are connected to them emotionally, because we get to see each character’s sense of humor and have some kind of insight to their personal lives. This connection to these characters is also helped by the chemistry of the actors who play them, John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Visually, however, the viewer is often kept away from these men. For example, when it is not quite time to make the hit in the beginning of the film, the two men continue to walk down the hall and continue their conversation for a couple of minutes. The viewer is kept back, never crossing through the doorway area of the hallway like the characters do. We are kept at a distance.

Most of my notes on this film are about Quentin Tarantino’s film style. In a way, for this film, he very much shoots it using aspects from “old Hollywood” kind of films from the 40s and 50s. Close-ups are a huge part of the story telling here. Close-ups are not only used on people’s faces, but also on certain objects that the director wants the viewer to pay particular attention to. And these close-ups always have perfect lighting. What I find funny about Tarantino’s style for this film being reminiscent of “old Hollywood” is that, eventually, two of the characters go to a restaurant that has the theme of 1950s Hollywood.

Everything within the frame in this film is important. Details are everything. For instance, one of the funnier moments in the film, I think, is when they need to give Mia Wallace the adrenaline shot because she has overdosed. The only reason I found anything funny about this scene is that, in the background, there are two board games. The first board game is Operation and the second board game is Life.

The story itself is pretty impressive because, in Quentin Tarantino fashion, it is shown out of order. Yet, everything falls into place seamlessly, and after watching, the viewer can pretty much see what order the events took place in. Personally, I would never be able to write a film that was sequenced out of order. I would probably just get confused somewhere down the line and screw it all up.

I do want to say that Butch is my favorite character but I honestly don’t know if it’s because I like the actual character or if it’s just because Butch is played by Bruce Willis and I love Bruce Willis (who doesn’t love Bruce Willis?). I have always found his character interesting, though. We are shown a man who has never killed anybody in his life, and by the time his segment is over, he’s killed 3.

There is a lot more that I could write about with this film, but it’s currently 2:30 in the morning, and I’m exhausted. So, maybe sometime in the future I’ll write something more in depth if the mood strikes me. But, until then, you’ll have to forgive me.

Grade: A-

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