Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Pulp Fiction--and the crooks lived happily ever after
Seeing this for a second time after many years the first impression is the solidity of construction. The humor interlaced with adrenalin pumping violence is sustained and the length the movie has is the only length it could have had and one leaves off with satisfied but not satiated.
It ends where it started on a most poignant note as the just converted Jules frees the novice robber couple, now trembling in their shoes, and affectionately sends them off with a rich haul of loot. The maestro, the samurai warrior, with his confidence and control, is set off against the fumbling and jittery dilettante crook. There is a perfect symmetry to things and all turns full circle. Everything is in a process of resolution, not just neatly, but with delirious abandon, as Tarantino's engines of creation churn. Butch retrieves not just his watch, but his security and happiness. It is a series of joyfully concluded situations. The violence and gore seems just a convenient peg to secure the joie de vivre. The first discovery of the frontal view of the dreaded Marcellus's face is a pleasurable moment coming early on in the film. He is a fat jowled pig not a patch on his subordinate Samuel Jackson where intimidating appearances are concerned. Uma Thurman as the unlikely moll of the unlikely gangster in her brief role introduces just the right measure of sensuality, as her hilarious drug trip gone haywire ends on a note of secret intimacy, tenderly capped with a parting joke about three tomatoes.
Perhaps Tarantino's great discovery is the joy of talking. The characters live on dialog and anything and nothing are a good enough subject to make the sparks of interaction fly-off. Even the violence is more in the talk. In fact, the talk is the real action of the film. Memorable also is the concluding lecture about the nature of superheroes delivered by the vicious Bill (David Carradine) delivered with regal gravity.
Samuel Jackson as the enigmatic fun loving hitman gives an electrifying performance--the only time he smiles is towards the end as a philosophic dialog on the demerits of pork is in progress. Travolta complements him perfectly as the cool and suave Vincent--he is there at the end with a broad smile though he got bumped off in the middle proving that the middle is not the middle nor the end the end. But these complexities are of little consequence as we join this joy ride in the company of Tarantino. Some may justifiably call it an over violent film. That it no doubt is, but as my friend Seongyong said, never has violence been served with such applomb and style.