Saturday, April 1, 2017

Pulp Fiction - 4 stars out of 10

Pulp Fiction - 4 stars out of 10

I am aware that I am in the minority when I say that “Pulp Fiction” is overrated.  This iconic film is considered by most to be Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece and one of the most important films ever conceived, but for me it is too difficult to watch.  First, the film is filled with extreme content for the sake of being extreme, hence the film's title.  I can tolerate a lot in films but this one has so many unnecessary f-words that they lose their meaning by the end.  Beyond the f-words, there is too much lewd dialogue and the Ving Rhames scenes is unwatchable.  I literally get nauseas through that entire sequence.  Films like this are risk vs. reward: when you risk turning people away with extreme content, you’d better be able to make them feel like it was worth it through a poignant or worthwhile ending (“12 Years A Slave” immediately comes to mind).  Unfortunately, the extreme content fails to yield a gripping story and the dialogue-driven script turns the majority of the film into a melodrama.  As far as Tarantino films are concerned, I much prefer "Django Unchained" and "The Hateful Eight."  These a little less extreme but deliver a significantly larger reward in the end.  The greatest asset of “Pulp Fiction” is its style.  It comes complete with Tarantino’s signature division of the story into chapters, a classic use of nonlinear storytelling, and a lot of it just feels “cool.”  Samuel L. Jackson’s recitation of scripture, John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s “Twist” sequence, and Harvey Keitel’s turn as “The Wolfe” is fun to watch.  The entire film is incredibly bold as it subscribes to the philosophy of go big or go home.  Every sequence pushes boundaries but gets bogged down by too much dialogue.  Tarantino won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay but I would argue that the profanity and too much dialogue in general are what drag this film down.  Most critics and film fans consider “Pulp Fiction” to be a classic but I believe that it would be more appropriate to categorize this film as “infamous.”  The Bruce Willis/Ving Rhames scene alone forces me to tell people that it isn't worth watching.  It is fascinating to read articles that analyze everything from the film’s commentary about modern cinema and hypotheses about the contents of Marsellus’ briefcase to the significance of Vincent‘s trips to the bathroom as each trip seems to trigger a potentially fatal situation.  The issue is that you have to suffer through the content before any of the philosophizing makes sense.  For me, the risk is not worth the reward.

[Pictured: These are some of the coolest characters in film history but the extremity of the film's lewd content makes them difficult to enjoy]

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