16. Pulp Fiction

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Movie: Pulp Fiction

Release Date: October 14, 1994

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: 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.

Tag Lines: “Girls like me don’t make invitations like this to just anyone!”

“You won’t know the facts until you’ve seen the fiction.”

“From the creators of ‘True Romance’ & ‘Reservoir Dogs'”

“I don’t smile for pictures.”

“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character.”

Relevance: ‘Pulp Fiction’ was one of those films that had everyone talking, even those that didn’t or wouldn’t ever see it. It was a pop culture phenomenon the minute it was released in October of 1994. Already winning the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival earlier that Spring, ‘Pulp Fiction’ received critical acclaim and became a frontrunner for every award the industry offered. The movie was eventually nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning one and six Golden Globes, also winning one. Both of those wins were for the screenplay. It was a commercial success as well with audiences, with almost $214 million at the box office, it seemed Quentin Tarantino was getting recognition for his work and being introduced fully to the world.

‘Pulp Fiction’ was not Mr. Tarantino’s first film, but it was the one that gave him the huge spotlight and was the movie that made me notice him. Soon after the hullabaloo of ‘Pulp Fiction,’ I quickly visited his debut film, ‘Reservoir Dogs’ (see 65. Reservoir Dogs). It was those two films that made me a huge fan of the director. I have enjoyed all of his films throughout the years. ‘Pulp Fiction’ represents his third and final film on my list of most influential movies of all time. The aforementioned ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and 215. Four Rooms are the other two, although ‘Four Rooms’ is only a quarter directed by him. His art has definitely made an impact on the film world and on me as a fan of the medium.

For some reason I did not see ‘Pulp Fiction’ when it played in theaters. I was both working and attending my third semester of Graduate School, and somehow missed it. I had many friends and roommates see the movie and tell me that it was one surely not to miss. But alas I did. I was well aware of the film thanks to my always keeping abreast of pop culture, especially music and movies, and was tantalized by its trailer. Although I missed it, I knew it would be a rental as soon as it was released to home media.

Sometime in the Spring of 1995, I rented the movie and watched it alone. As soon as the definition of the word “pulp” appeared on the black screen, I knew I was in store for something completely different. I couldn’t have been more correct. It was surprising, gritty and wondrously humorous. There was a darkness to the film yet at the same time I couldn’t help but smile when watching it. The dialogue was brilliant and I would come to find out that it was the trademark Tarantino speech that I would love over and over again in all of his films. It was vulgar, crass, bloody, disturbing and one of the most entertaining movies I had seen in a long while. I was grateful I finally got to see what everyone else was talking about.

Like I do with all movies I love, I recommended ‘Pulp Fiction’ to all of my family and friends. I was surprised to find out that fifty percent of the people I recommended the movie to hated it. I knew it was a graphic movie and wouldn’t necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I actually told my mother she probably wouldn’t like it and am pretty sure she never watched it. But I thought the artistry of the film would win most people over. I was wrong. There were just as many people that hated the film as loved it. I learned that year that in America, we are more of a ‘Forrest Gump’ society than a ‘Pulp Fiction’ one. It’s no wonder I always felt uncomfortable in society as you might have noticed ‘Forrest Gump’ is no where to be found (nor will be found) on my list of favorite movies.

‘Pulp Fiction’ remained one of my favorite movies of all time (obviously) and was one that was a part of my movie collection as soon as possible. In fact, I own the special edition DVD as I do with most Quentin Tarantino films. Mr. Tarantino represents one of those filmmakers that my son and I actually agree upon. Like me, he is a fan of his as well as ‘Pulp Fiction.’ Although this wasn’t my sons favorite film of the director, for me it represents his greatest achievement and masterpiece and one that will be watched for many, many years to come.

Today’s Thoughts: “If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.”

I watched ‘Pulp Fiction’ alone today in the comfort of my living room. My husband was working but I am not sure he would have watched it with me if he were home. He seems to be more of a ‘Forrest Gump’ guy, but I’ll have to ask him later to verify. My son was home, but sleeping. I thought maybe the loudness of the movie would get him out of bed and join me, but it didn’t work, which was totally fine. I got to watch and enjoy the film with my favorite person, me.

I probably haven’t seen the film in its entirety for at least a few years, so I was definitely excited to be revisiting it again today. It holds up remarkably well for being almost twenty-seven years old. It is still fresh, fun as well as graphic and disturbing but very, very entertaining. The cast is incredible and I enjoyed watching those quirky, weird and dark characters brought back to life. It is also quite gritty. I can’t help but flinch and cringe every time the n-word is spoken, but it is something I have come to accept in a Tarantino film. It’s probably my only grievance I have with him as a director. With that said, ‘Pulp Fiction’ is sure to become a classic very soon, if it is not already considered one.

Thanks to Bruce Willis, ‘Pulp Fiction’ becomes the twenty-third movie where full frontal male nudity has appeared. Yes, ‘Pulp Fiction’ has been added to the ever growing (pun intended) “penis” list. Feel free to peruse through the other penis friendly films here: 32. Philadelphia, 39. Brokeback Mountain, 47. Fight Club, 92. An American Werewolf in London, 93. Angels in America, 105. American History X, 110. Shortbus, 112. A Clockwork Orange, 113. Weekend, 120. Sex and the City, 133. Porky’s, 139. Trainspotting, 144. Fargo, 183. Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 199. Six Degrees of Separation, 209. The Fisher King, 295. Being John Malkovich, 296. Wildcats, 332. The Crying Game, 335. Born on the Fourth of July343. Sideways and 357. Amadeus.

‘Pulp Fiction’ is really a film to be seen to be believed. Its award winning screenplay and fantastic performances are totally worth the watch. It is such a great ride and one that I am sure I will take a few more times before my time on this planet is through. Thank you for your art, Mr. Tarantino. I look forward to whatever else you have in store for us.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary (winner), Academy Award for Best Picture (nomination), Academy Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, John Travolta (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Samuel L. Jackson (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Uma Thurman (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Sally Menke (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, Quentin Tarantino (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, John Travolta (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Uma Thurman (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Samuel L. Jackson (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Samuel L. Jackson (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, John Travolta (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Uma Thurman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Andrzej Sekula (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Editing, Sally Menke (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound, Stephen Hunter Flick, Ken King, Rick Ash, Dean A. Zupancic (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, John Travolta (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role, Samuel L. Jackson (nomination), Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role, Uma Thurman (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Quentin Tarantino (nomination), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead, Samuel L. Jackson (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avery (winner), Film Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male, Eric Stoltz (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor, John Travolta (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Screenplay, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avery (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Film (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (winner), National Film Registry (2013), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director, Quentin Tarantino (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay, Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avery (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Film (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Samuel L. Jackson (nomination), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Uma Thurman (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Hulu, Sling TV, Starz, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play, iTunes, DVD Availability.

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