Pulp Fiction

"A day in the life of gangsters" is how my co-viewer described Pulp Fiction, and aptly so. With a cast consisting of people like John Travolta and Bruce Willis, and directed by Quentin Tarantino (who also did Reservoir Dogs), this movie has its high spots, but it could've been shortened by an hour (maintaining about the same length as Reservoir Dogs), sparing the viewer a lot of pain.

In a push-pop scenario, the movie lived up to its name, just like a Jackie Collins or Sidney Sheldon novel. Starting off with two coffee-shop robbers, it moves on to Vincent Vega (Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel Jackson), two gun-toting serfs guarding a mysterious suitcase on behalf of big boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames), and finally to Butch Coolidge (Willis) the boxer who was supposed to take a dive but didn't. Á la Collins, the three subplots are intricately woven together and end up back in the coffee-shop, where Jules and Vincent are relaxing after a busy morning's killing.

Unlike its violent counterpart Natural Born Killers, this is a somewhat slow moving movie. But it definitely has more humour in it and the various subplots to the subplots are actually done quite well. It is not senseless blood and gore (in fact, there's very little actually depicted), which is what Natural Born Killers is all about. The subsubplots are quite interesting: one of them involving the drug overdose of Marsellus' wife Mia (Uma thurman) culiminating with a rather violent adrenalin shot (needle through breastplate), another involving a male homosexual rape this one ending when Butch finally decides on a longsword (after contemplating a hammer, chainsaw, etc.) as his weapon of choice to attack the rapists, and yet another involving Vincent accidently blowing the head off of a stooge.

In the end, Jules, who survives a freak accident convinced that it is an act of god, decides to retire, thus living. Vincent does not and is shot as he comes out of the toilet. This is the first time I saw a male homosexual rape depicted on screen. I guess the next step is to show a female one; I have heard of such things happening for a while now. The existential messages this movie carried were far more provocative than the ones in Natural Born Killers, which was virtually lacking any sort of a theme. It's worth watching on the big screen, and again on video, to grasp the subtleties of the movie. In some sense, this movie is a work of genius, but the first time I saw I found myself extremely distracted due to its length. The sound track is excellent.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org