Welcome to Couch Cruisin and couchandchill.com!!! It’s Rod-Tino Tuesday and we are talking about an absolute classic, 1994’s Pulp Fiction. I remember when people talked about indie movies, Pulp Fiction was one of the first titles mentioned. This is the film that made Tarantino a household name, made Samuel L. Jackson a legend, and revived John Travolta’s career. It’s hard to say anything fresh about a movie this iconic, but I want to talk about a couple of scenes that I rarely hear about. If there’s a chance someone has never seen this movie, here’s a little about the fiction!
Pulp Fiction takes place in California. Most of the movie revolves around Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson). They are enforcers that work for crime boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Vincent’s and Jules’ main mission is to pick up an item for Marsellus. Also, Vincent has a side mission of taking out Marsellus’ new wife Mia (Uma Thurman). Pretty much everything that happens in the movie involves Vincent, Jules, and Marsellus, it just happens over a couple of days in different situations. Mia almost dies from snorting Vincent’s heroin; Vincent accidentally shoots associate Marvin (Phil Larmar), and The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) has to save the day; Jules gives a powerful speech to Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) while the couple is robbing a diner; boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) saves Marsellus from pervy, racist, rednecks. Everything is connected.
The foot conversation
As I kind of mentioned when I discussed Death Proof, Tarantino has mastered the art of filming seemingly mundane conversations and turning them into brilliant little moments. I can pick any conversation to illustrate my point, but I’m going to talk about a conversation between the “Royale with cheese” bit and the “strike down with vengeance” bit. Basically, Vincent and Jules are talking about how Marsellus threw poor Tony “Rocky Horror” off of a balcony for touching his wife’s feet. Jules thinks this is overkill. Vincent says that it was justified because Jules would not touch a man in such an intimate manner.
For a moment, you forget that these are hardened criminals. They are just regular guys having a regular guy debate. It makes you think about your own position on the topic. For the record, I agree with Vincent. At any rate, that’s the power of the Quentin Tarantino conversation, it’s immersive. You feel like you are there discussing touching someone’s wife’s feet. I have seen these seemingly mundane conversations backfire in another movie, but that’s for another time.
There are several scenes I can mention, and people will instantly know what I’m talking about: The Royale with cheese scene, the rape scene, the iconic Ezekiel 25: 17 scene. These scenes are great, but my favorite scene features The Wolf. Let me segway for a second to say that Harvey Keitel is freaking awesome. He was great as Jacob in From Dusk til Dawn, he does a great job in movies we will see later. But, his role as The Wolf is one of my favorites. When he enters Jimmie’s (Quentin Tarantino) home to clean up Marvin’s dead body and dispose of it and the car, we the audience is very aware he is in charge. It is not easy to command the presence of the room when you are sharing a space with a big personality like Samuel L. Jackon. But, Keitel’s The Wolf gives you leadership, decisiveness, and experience, without being the loudest voice in the room. It’s fantastic to watch!
It’s not all perfect
I’m praising this movie a lot, but there is one thing about it that annoys me to no end. It is the entire bit with Butch. If you do not remember, Butch is the boxer who is supposed to throw a match for Marsellus but kills the opponent instead. Then there’s this whole thing with Butch’s girlfriend and how she wants a potbelly or pancakes or both…I don’t know. Then, Marsellus sends goons after Butch. Butch ends up escaping, killing Vincent in the process. All of this sets up the scene of Butch saving Marsellus from the disgusting rednecks. I think it would have been okay without the pancake/potbelly mess. This part does not feel as natural as the rest of it. We did not need this much character development for Butch and his girlfriend.
Pulp Fiction was a huge movie for Tarantino. People hailed him as a genius director. That’s understandable since this was Tarantino at his absolute best. I thought Reservoir Dogs was the better movie, but it didn’t see Pulp Fiction success. I think the difference is the charisma of Samuel L. Jackson.
Wrapping it up
Well, that’s it for Pulp Fiction. Next week we return to Robert Rodriguez. The random number generator selected the eighth movie. We are about to get absolutely nutty because we are watching Planet Terror. If you need the movie list, click here. Until then, be sure to join me for Anime Thursday and Calamity of a Zombie Girl. Also this Serenity Sunday is episode six of Firefly, Our Mrs. Reynolds.
Speaking of Sundays, we will conclude Firefly in October. What should I talk about next? I’ve narrowed my options down to four:
Dead Like Me
Twin Peaks (the original)
Let me know what you think I should watch, even if it’s not listed. I will see you on Thursday!
“English m***** f*****! Do you speak it???!!!”- Jules