It’s just a great movie. Anyone who’s been within earshot of a film school student knows it. Quentin Tarantino‘s 1994 crime drama, Pulp Fiction, has emerged as the quintessential example of what is now referred to as a “cult classic.” Although, by now Pulp Fiction has grown so popular that it is less of a cult and more of a major religion. It simply has everything: great performances, auteur directing style, an innovative temporal structure, and some of the greatest dialogue ever put on screen. Though Pulp Fiction is frequently viewed a somewhat progressive / experimental film, by classical critical standards it still holds up.
Prototypically postmodern, Pulp Fiction follows the stories of several Los Angeles mobsters and the people they encounter. The film’s nonlinear structure spends time focusing on several different characters, eventually revealing how all of their storylines intertwine in the end. The structure was uniquely inventive, especially for the time, and has since inspired hundreds of other filmmakers to tell their stories in an anti-linear fashion.
The performances are equally compelling. Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, and John Travolta (20 years before Adele Dazeem) each received Oscar bids; not to mention a slew of equally engaging supporting performances from Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, and Christopher Walken, among others. The actors are aided by Tarantino’s phenomenally nonchalant dialogue and his mastery of character chemistry. Throw in a gimp and a Royale with Cheese and you’ve got a recipe for neo-noir glory.
If you search hard enough, you’ll find some uppity film snob who thinks Pulp Fiction is wildly overrated, or they’ll insist it is not even close to Tarantino’s best work. They’re out there. But from this critic, Pulp Fiction is a well earned A. Like some of the others we’ve watched up to now, it’s one of those that the modern film-goer simply has to know in order to engage in an intelligent conversation about film. So if you haven’t seen it, go watch it!
Take a bit to unwind, then get ready to watch #93 The French Connection.
100. Ben-Hur 99. Toy Story 98. Yankee Doodle Dandy 97. Blade Runner 96. Do the Right Thing 95. The Last Picture Show 94. Pulp Fiction
- 93. The French Connection
What about you? What do you cherish most about Pulp Fiction? Or are you one of those who scoffs at its critical success? Let us know!
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