Friday, December 12, 2014

Mock Squid Soup: Pulp Fiction

MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to welcome you to Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society.  Each month, on the second Friday, we shall host a bloghop devoted to a particular movie.  We invite others to watch the same film and post their own reviews.  This month's movie is...

Title: Pulp Fiction
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Original Release: 1994
My Overall Rating: 5 stars out of 5
via Wikipedia
Pulp Fiction was released during my senior year of college.  For me, it was a gateway to indie films.  For all of its gratuitous and disturbing elements - the violence, the blood, the drug overdose - expert writing and masterful storytelling shone through.  It woke me up to the quality that existed in the medium beyond the big budget blockbusters.  It also introduced me to the concept of a MacGuffin (the briefcase), though I wouldn't learn the word for it until years later.

Pulp Fiction is actually three interweaving stories, told out of sequence.  In "Vincent Vega and Marsellus's Wife," LA hit man Vincent (John Travolta) entertains his boss's wife (Uma Thurman) for an enjoyable but ultimately catastrophic evening.  In "The Gold Watch," boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) cheats the aforementioned Marsellus (Ving Rhames) out of a gambling fix.  In "The Bonnie Situation," Vincent and his partner Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) must dispose of a dead body.

The film resurrected one acting career (Travolta), rejuvenated another (Willis) and catapulted two others to Hollywood's A-list (Thurman and Jackson).  The acting is outstanding almost across the board, though the writing sure makes it easy.  The one weakness is Tarantino's own appearance as Jimmie, the unfortunate friend who finds himself the unwilling accomplice in body disposal.  Yet another director is tripped up by his own narcissism...

My favorite part of the movie is the last scene.  It is the end of "The Bonnie Situation" but is not the end of the overall sequential narrative.  I wonder now if that was intentional or if the non-sequential narrative of the film evolved more organically.  Jules's final monologue provides a wonderful summation of the moral landscape of the entire film.  It might lose some impact without the benefit of the completion of all three stories.  Also, I'd think it would be difficult to follow the emotional intensity of that last scene with much of anything.

We hope that you, too, will watch Pulp Fiction and join in our discussion.  I'll post January's sign-up list tomorrow.  Our feature on Friday, January 9th shall be... Better Off Dead.
via Wikipedia
Our dear friend Suze is co-hosting with us in January.   If you, dear cinephile, would be interested in suggesting a film and co-hosting Mock Squid Soup one month, please let us know.

In the meantime, for the Pulp Fiction discussion, please sign on to the list below.



18 comments:

  1. I haven't seen Pulp Fiction since it first came out, but I really didn't like it at the time. Completely didn't like it.
    However, I'd like to actually go back and watch all of Tarantino's movies in order (I haven't seen some of them at all), because I think he may actually have a larger thread going on. I don't know; it's just a feeling.

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    1. To be honest, I haven't watched many of the others. I'm not as enamored of his other early works as many seem to be. I've been told, however, that I'd like Jackie Browne.

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  2. I've never watched Pulp Fiction but I've heard good things about it. I generally don't watch gangster movies.

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    1. This is atypical of the gangster genre in so many ways. Borderline absurdist.

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  3. I left a big comment on monk's post. I messed up I thought it was your post !
    short version...
    Didn't like this movie.
    Lived in California at the time all I had to do was look out the door and could see this everyday.
    While Monk wrote a huge review with Taranitino's inspirations he forgot the Korean and Hong Kong movies influences that Taranitino loves. This was the stop and start merging of timelines is a factor used in many Asian movies and I think the best part of this movie.
    Everyone has guns, everyone get beat up, there is blood everywhere, there is always a body in the trunk with the baseball bat and usually everyone dies.
    I didn't need to pay money to see this, just drive to LA or the local Taco Bell where all the HS kids got their drugs. and the illegals who brought along the cartels that were making huge inroads into California drug and sex trade 20 years ago. Violence, sex, guns and death.
    I understand careers were jump started by this movie.
    But this movie is not on my best movie list.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. I'm intrigued by the Asian influence angle...

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  4. I could not bring myself to watch this film in its entirety, At the time, my snotty teenagers said, Oh mom. You shouldn't watch this movie. Since then I have watched clips, and concluded that they are/were correct.

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  5. Loved your review, and I still don't know what McGuffin means. Thanks for hosting!

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    1. It's an object of obvious, yet unspecified importance. Everyone wants it desperately and the desire for it drives the plot. The classic example is the bird statue in the Maltese Falcon. George Lucas intended for R2-D2 to be a MacGuffin but I don't think it works. We know why everyone wants him. He's got the data plans to the Death Star.

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  6. Drat! Better Off Dead is another selection I'll have to watch for the first time! Can I instead review the excellent Better Odd Ted TV series? Pretty please?

    I think Jules had to be the one who finished out the movie, as his thought process is the one that each of the main characters tried to follow, but didn't really succeed in doing, although Butch comes closest without ever vocalizing it (but could he have been that eloquent?) while Vincent's fate is the coda-in-reverse that already proves it may be harder (Jules readily admits this throughout the scene) to fulfill than it is to say. Like the fate of that pilot Mia made.

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    1. (Clearly the TV series is called Better Off Ted. Why doesn't Blogger know I need the ability to edit my comments?)

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    2. We love Better Off Ted at our house. "Lust in Translation" is, IMHO, one of the greatest sitcom episodes of all time. LindaBagel? I was crying I laughed so hard.

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  7. I enjoyed this many years ago, but remember feeling lost towards the last half. I'd like to see it again.

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    1. That's not surprising. By the time Willis appears it seems to become an entirely different movie. The time jumps become obvious: Travolta dies and then reappears chronologically when we see Willis for the first time...

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    2. There are chronological order edits out there. I don't know if I'd enjoy the film as much that way.

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  8. I knew I would be too busy to watch this film again and give it a proper review, but based on when I saw it last I'd give it a 3. My husband however would probably agree with you.
    There were a lot of ground breaking high points to this film during the time it was released, but I think that most of it was hype. It is entertaining for those who can stomach it, but for me it's overrated. Not a bad movie, but the masterpeice many feel it is...Considering all that, it's still a one-up on the Hollywood standard and has improved many Hollywood productions that followed it.

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    1. For me, it was a movie that opened my eyes. Are there better indie films than Pulp Fiction? Yes. Are there better indie directors than Tarantino? Most definitely. But PF was the movie that clued me in to the fact that I was missing out on a lot of what the medium had to offer. For that, it will always have a special place in my heart.

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