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Pulp Fiction, directed by Quentin Tarantino and starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, and Samuel L. Jackson, isn't for everyone. The movie, released in 1994, is brutal, stylize, and quirky. It comprises several overlapping stories that jump around in time while recounting the adventures and misadventures of two philosophical hit men, brutal gangster, his sexy, flirtatious wife, and a boxer looking for a way out. Pulp Fiction won an Academy Award for best original screenplay and was nominated for six others. Its sensibilities range from humor to gore, from cruelty to sweetness, and razor-sharp dialogue is loaded with wit. Oscar attest to the quality of script, and dialogue is memorable.
Thanks to Pulp Fiction, lot of moviegoers are familiar with the TV production process. Mia Wallace explained that she once appeared in a TV pilot called Fox Force Five. Her character was supposed to tell corny joke in every episode, but they only do one episode, so she only ever get to tell one joke, leading to excellent Mia Wallace quote: Three tomatoes are walking down the street: papa tomato, momma tomato, and little baby tomato. Baby tomato started lagging behind. Papa Tomato got angry, went over to baby tomato, and smushes him. And say, Catch up.
With its blistering, rough-edge acting, acrid, funny dialogue, vivid, accurate feeling of Los Angeles and brilliant fracturings of time, PULP FICTION more than lives up to its advanced reputation as a new masterwork by writer-director Quentin Tarantino. Fast-moving, darkly comical Film noir, winner of the best picture award of 1994 Cannes Film Festival, certifies Tarantino as the most creative and individualistic young filmmaker in America. Balancing sharp humor and brutal twists of plot, PULP FICTION unfolds with the daring and complexity of a particularly inventive novel. Its characters are exaggerated but richly human, gangster and moll archetypes, PULP FICTION crazies and bimbos, but sympathetic and real. Its storytelling is bold and abrupt, full of startling but cogent transitions. Its tone acrobatically balances broad humor, inside movie jokes and curious morality. And its urban landscape, bland eatery, drab apartment hideout, stack motel, create a strong sense of post-Raymond Chandler Los Angeles. Hollywood resists stories that are too complicate, but Tarantino-though obviously a deep-dyed student of studios' product-defies tradition by weaving together three stories of LA lowlifes. The results resemble Robert Altman's short Cuts, based on Raymond Carver stories. But PULP FICTION is no arbitrary if clever fitting together of diverse characters into the Southern California landscape. Tarantino loves his people, however flaw. PULP FICTION even produces a couple of heroes men who find freedom when moments of revelation force them to leave behind their dangerous and deadly milieu. PULP FICTION proves exciting for any number of reasons. But its true revelation comes from its image-shattering performances. John Travolta, greasy-haired, bit stupid but strangely gallant as the drug kingpin's enforcer, reaches into himself to discover an especially fascinating and true character, Vincent Vega. Samuel L. Jackson, sporting dashing neo-Afro and fierce facial hair, outdoes even Travolta as his Bible-spouting partner Jules. And underestimated Bruce Willis emerges as one of Tarantino's reluctant heroes as brainwash but oddly noble palooka name Butch. Nor is Tarantino a tough-guy director-writer who finds himself at a loss with women characters. Working with black-wigged Uma Thurman, he draws out performance that go beyond her too-neglected work in Mad Dog and Glory, written by fine PULP-FICTION artist Richard Price. Tarantino pairs Travolta's Vincent and Thurman's hip, lose Mia in Night on town in beyond-planet Hollywood '50s burger club in a scene that generates hauntingly romantic feeling. Then, however, after twisting pas De deux, echoing both Saturday Night Fever and Last Tango in Paris, Tarantino surprises us with the film's most shocking turnabout, capped by a mad race across town and comic surprise. That sequence establishes Vincent Vega as one of Tarantino's trio of heroes. But, alas, Vincent cannot find his way out of a scene that will surely destroy him. He is too careless, too caught up in his life and his dim ideas of loyalty and being someone.
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