Mar. 14, 2012 - Issue #856: FAVA
Wed, Mar 21 (9:30 pm) - Metro Cinema at The Garneau
There's the opening conversation between Amanda Plummer's slightly spacey American and Tim Roth's casually racist Englishman, where speedy semi-logic revs into the impulsiveness of robbing the diner right now, her "Honey Bunny" cooing, "I love you, Pumpkin!" just before standing up, pulling her gun on the joint, and snarling, "I'll execute every motherfuckin' last one a' ya'!" Or, next, there's Jules (Samuel Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) shootin' the Seinfeldian shit in a car before their erudite riffs on trivial matters become threatening once they "get into character" and the targets of their banter are three two-bit punks who owe their boss Marsellus (Ving Rhames) money.
Usually, this self-aware dialogue comes so snappily and coolly that it only brings attention to how snappily thought-through the screenplay is. So the film's shaped mass of matter—its script—gives its clichéd noir scenes (Bonnie-and-Clyde couple talking about the last job; thugs carrying out a boss's orders) a renewed energy.
Sometimes, though, things get a bit too talk-happy. The film's seemingly inventive jigsaw-plot structure isn't so much smart writing as tricksy storyboarding (a movie the same year, Before the Rain, used a similar structure to more profound effect). Certain moments—like Vincent's dreamy heroin-injection or the suspiciously homophobic obsession with rectums, culminating with rape by a "gimp"—are just a little too self-consciously cool or outré, too much QT on the PM (Post-Modernism).
But many of these weaknesses are flip-sides of the strengths that made Pulp Fiction a hit for my generation, strengths that still impress. There's the trivial-turned-menacing, the gangster-gone-poppy, an LA underworld grounded in exactly the kind of odd retro-soundtrack it seems most hardboiled flicks always should have had, and the various sadnesses, poignancies, and tragic pointlessnesses that seep out of the best noirs.
Wed, Mar 21 (9:30 pm)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Metro Cinema at The Garneau
Originally released: 1994
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