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Pulp Fiction Movie Review

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Pulp Fiction is a dizzying ride through the violent Los Angeles that exists in the mind of its creator, Quentin Tarantino. It is a world of lethal small-time and not particularly brilliant thugs who exhaustively discuss the differences between American and French-style McDonald's as they kill time before a hit. It is a world where the time-worn cliche of Mr. Big's sexy wife being taken for a date by his henchman is turned inside out with terrifying and hilarious results. It is a world where even the awesome Mr. Big finds himself in a situation where no one knows that he is Mr. Big and none of his faithfully honored rules apply. Although the whole point of the film is to pay twisted tribute to the conventions of film noir, the 154-minute script might have become a silly and long-winded mess if anyone but Tarantino had been at the helm. Nowhere is this more clear than in one of the funniest segments in which Mr. Big's problem-solver (crisply played by Harvey Keitel) must step in to resolve a situation caused by a clueless hit man (John Travolta). As genuine pulp fiction, this essentially banal yarn might barely have passed muster on the printed page. But onscreen, under Tarantino's sure guiding hand (the director also plays a central role in this segment), it's a priceless demonstration of gangland hygiene; the segment's humor and wit are driven by the sheer banality of the situation. Moreover, it leads directly into the brilliant wrap-up of the circular narrative. The film opens and closes in a ubiquitous L.A. diner with Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer), but we don't know what the pair have to do with the rest of the story until film's end. The powerhouse ensemble cast includes folks who are normally above-the-title stars in any other movie: Bruce Willis and Maria de Medeiros, Eric Stoltz and Rosanna Arquette, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Walken, and Frank Whaley. John Travolta may not be the obvious choice as Vincent Vega, the world's dumbest hit man, but he acquits himself admirably in the role he describes as his sixth comeback. He even gets a chance to be a heroin-ridden twist contestant in a surrealistic nightclub. His dancing partner is Uma Thurman as Mia, AKA Mrs. Marsellus Wallace (this film's Mr. Big). Thurman is provocative and appealing as the seductive former starlet who imbibes $5 milkshakes and lines of coke with equal conviction. And check out the incredible retro-style club with James Dean, Buddy Holly, Marilyn Monroe, and Mamie Van Doren as the waiters and waitresses and real 1950s convertibles as the booths! Pulp Fiction deservedly won the best picture prize at 1994's Cannes Film Festival. The film shows what those who grumbled about True Romance, scripted but not directed by Tarantino, subliminally realized: that his films need his vision as well as his ear. Luckily for audiences, Pulp Fiction is vintage Tarantino from breathless start to breathtaking finish.

1994 (R) 154m/C John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria De Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Bruce Willis, Frank Whaley, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino; D: Quentin Tarantino; W: Roger Roberts Avary, Quentin Tarantino; C: Andrzej Sekula. Academy Awards ‘94: Best Original Screenplay; British Academy Awards ‘94: Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Jackson); Cannes Film Festival ‘94: Best Film; Golden Globe Awards ‘95: Best Screenplay; Independent Spirit Awards ‘95: Best Actor (Jackson), Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film, Best Screenplay; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘94: Best Actor (Travolta), Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film, Best Screenplay; MTV Movie Awards ‘95: Best Film, Best Dance Sequence (John Travolta/Uma Thurman); National Board of Review Awards ‘94: Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film; New York Film Critics Awards ‘94: Best Director (Tarantino), Best Screenplay; National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘94: Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film, Best Screenplay; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘94: Best Actor (Travolta), Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Thurman); Australian Film Institute ‘95: Best Foreign Film; Directors Guild of America Awards ‘94: Best Director (Tarantino); Golden Globe Awards ‘95: Best Actor—Drama (Travolta), Best Director (Tarantino), Best Film—Drama, Best Supporting Actor (Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Thurman); Independent Spirit Awards ‘95: Best Supporting Actor (Stoltz); MTV Movie Awards ‘95: Best Male Performance (Travolta), Best Female Performance (Thurman), Best On-Screen Duo (John Travolta/Samuel L. Jackson), Best Song ("Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon"); Screen Actors Guild Award ‘94: Best Actor (Travolta). VHS, LV, Closed Caption, DVD

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