The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction (1994) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #67: Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino’s noir kaleidoscope of hit men, molls, and boxers searching for redemption evidences his best cinematic work to date

Driven to agnosticism by his yappy, full-of-himself persona, Quentin Tarantino’s skeptics nonetheless are hard put to dismiss the most influential American movie in the three-plus decades since Blade Runner. Not only does the rest of Tarantino’s work exist in Pulp Fiction’s shadow but so do the likes of The Usual Suspects, Get Shorty, Snatch, Sexy Beast, and In Bruges; bound to rank near the top of the lifetime filmographies of Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, and John Travolta (whose career was moribund until he landed his role over Daniel Day-Lewis), it’s so much the standard by which the filmmaker is measured that the question isn’t whether it’s a young man’s masterwork like Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane (Essential Movie Library #12) but whether it forecloses an older man’s possibilities (Welles’s Touch of Evil, Essential Movie Library #44). Even the outtakes of this noir kaleidoscope of hit men, molls, and boxers searching for redemption have become famous: Thurman’s psychomusical exegesis, left out of the final cut, that everyone is either an Elvis Person or a Beatles Person is one of the writer-director’s shrewder observations of the popular culture he so avidly adores (though it should be added there may be Sinatra People).

Unlikely to replicate the didacticism that came to characterize the French director’s work, nonetheless Tarantino is the American Godard for how his movies are about The Movies (his production company is named after a Godard picture). He’s operating from a more culturally debased generation of tropes than did Godard—spaghetti Western and grindhouse and slasher, blaxploitation and commando flick, Italian giallo and Hong Kong kungfu and hot-chicks-bent-on-revenge whatever—and unlike Godard, who secretly feared that the movie junk he adored wasn’t worthy of his love, Tarantino has no such reservations. His films are witty and knowing but it’s unclear whether he’s shot a single frame that can truly be called ironic, because irony sets the artist apart from his art. Tarantino has no interest in such distance. Irony is the last refuge of the jaded, and Tarantino is anything but. 

Read them all:

The Essential Movie Library #66: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
The Essential Movie Library #65: Caché
The Essential Movie Library #64: A Hard Day's Night
The Essential Movie Library #63: The Searchers
The Essential Movie Library #62: The Conformist
The Essential Movie Library #61: Bonnie & Clyde
The Essential Movie Library #60: Sweet Smell of Success
The Essential Movie Library #59: Melancholia
The Essential Movie Library #58: La Dolce Vita
The Essential Movie Library #57: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid
The Essential Movie Library #56: Contempt
The Essential Movie Library #55: Sunset Boulevard
The Essential Movie Library #54: Metropolis
The Essential Movie Library #53: In A Lonely Place
The Essential Movie Library #52: Talk to Her
The Essential Movie LIbrary #51: To Be or Not To Be
The Essential Movie Library #50: The Battle of Algiers
The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2
The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

Leave a comment:

· Subscribe to comments
Be the first to comment here.

Advertisement

Stay Connected

 
Get Our LAmag.com Free Newsletter
 
more promotions
Subscribe to Los Angeles magazine
 
Close

Advertisement