Michele and I watched Pulp Fiction Thursday night and then we re-watched about 90% of it Friday night. What a masterpiece! It makes me want to watch Inglorious Basterds again, and Kill Bill (1 & 2). They are B Movies elevated to Art.
Quentin Tarantino movies are the opposite of action movies, they are all talk movies. Talk movies in which the talk seems to be wandering around aimlessly – the quarter pounder is a Royale with Cheese is maybe the most famous line, but there are dozens of great lines – only to circle back to connect in some improbable way. There are even more great bits –
Vincent: Want some bacon?
Jules: No man, I don’t eat pork.
Vincent: Are you Jewish?
Jules: Nah, I ain’t Jewish, I just don’t dig on swine, that’s all.
Vincent: Why not?
Jules: Pigs are filthy animals. I don’t eat filthy animals.
Vincent: Bacon tastes gooood. Pork chops taste gooood.
Jules: Hey, sewer rat may taste like pumpkin pie, but I’d never know ’cause I wouldn’t eat the filthy motherfucker. Pigs sleep and root in shit. That’s a filthy animal. I ain’t eat nothin’ that ain’t got sense enough to disregard its own feces.
Vincent: How about a dog? Dogs eats its own feces.
Jules: I don’t eat dog either.
Vincent: Yeah, but do you consider a dog to be a filthy animal?
Jules: I wouldn’t go so far as to call a dog filthy but they’re definitely dirty. But, a dog’s got personality. Personality goes a long way.
Vincent: Ah, so by that rationale, if a pig had a better personality, he would cease to be a filthy animal. Is that true?
Jules: Well we’d have to be talkin’ about one charming motherfuckin’ pig. I mean he’d have to be ten times more charmin’ than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I’m sayin’?
this is a conversation between two killers, between two people who make the living killing people and, somehow, the conversation is also about people who make their living killing people – and great scenes that are like mini-plays. Tarantino movies are collections of scenes with very little connecting them but the scenes are so good, they don’t need the connection.
Think Inglorious Basterds, there is a scene in which Michael Fassbender, as Archie Hicox, is briefed in England
and, in the next scene they are in France and he is disguised as a Nazi sitting with the inglorious basters themselves.
There are no transition scenes, no shots of them jumping out of an airplane in the dark, or meeting up with the Americans. All the transitions are covered by dialog.
Pulp Fiction is the same way. It is really a collection of set scenes that have an overriding arc. The scenes seem to be out of chronological order but the arc of the dialog is in order. Each scene sets up the following scene, so that, at the end, when we end up at breakfast in the coffeeshop, we know we are where Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer are waiting. Pulp Fiction seems to be a violent movie about violent people and – I guess – that turns alot of people off but the violence is mostly offstage, just being talked about and the violent people are doing the talking.
As Roger Ebert says, “Immediately after “Pulp Fiction” played at Cannes, QT asked me what I thought. “It’s either the best film of the year or the worst film,” I said. I hardly knew what the hell had happened to me. The answer was: the best film. Tarantino films have a way of growing on you. It’s not enough to see them once.”