AFI #94: Pulp Fiction

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee. – Jules Winnfield

It was 1994 when Quentin Tarantino burst onto the Hollywood landscape with Pulp Fiction, a film that people tend to either love or despise. It probably won’t be a surprise to you, my readers, that I think Pulp Fiction is one of the most entertaining films ever to hit the silver screen. I remember sitting there in the theater when it was over and seeing the look on my in-laws’ faces and my sister-in-law’s as well. They looked like they had just been hit in the face by a brick, and meanwhile Leslie and I were smiling ear to ear in movie bliss. Like I said, you either loved it or you didn’t.

I don’t think there is any question that Tarantino is a sick fucker. Pulp Fiction is just one of his many films that proves he has a warped mind. But to me and his millions of fans he walks the fine line between morbidity and comedy like no other. If you watch Pulp Fiction (and Kill Bill and Reservoir Dogs, etc., etc.) you have to watch with the understanding that the violence and gore is purposely over the top to make you cringe. And then you laugh because it’s not realistic — it’s pulp fiction.

Pulp Fiction made an impact (and made the AFI list) because it is creative, because it is a true original, and because the writing is pure genius. The banter between Jules and Vincent about everyday topics like cheeseburgers (a Royale with cheese), religion, foot massages and more are epic and movie fans have been quoting them ever since. Here’s a gem:

Jules: Oh, man, I will never forgive your ass for this shit. This is some fucked-up repugnant shit.
Vincent: Jules, did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits that he’s wrong that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings? Have you ever heard that?
Jules: Get the fuck out my face with that shit! The motherfucker that said that shit never had to pick up itty-bitty pieces of skull on account of your dumb ass.

The plot is simply bizarre, from Butch throwing his fight to Mia’s overdose to Marsellus and Butch being held hostage by a couple of rejects from Deliverance, to the story of Butch’s watch as told by Chris Walken to Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer’s ill-fated restaurant robbery…it goes on and on. Classic acting on all fronts. And of course, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Pulp Fiction completely re-energized the acting careers of both John Travolta and Bruce Willis.

Pulp Fiction is easily one of my favorite films and re-watching for this project was great. In fact, I may have enjoyed it more than the first few times I saw it because I was paying attention to the details for this review.

Next up: #93 The French Connection

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