Friday, December 7, 2012

Why Pulp Fiction is My Favorite Crime Film

Crime is my favorite genre of film, and I have a lot of knowledge of the genre and its tropes. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. As I get closer to reaching a recorded 500 films watched since last summer, I decided to take some time and go to a Fathom event to enjoy one of my favorite films in theaters: Pulp Fiction. In this post, I will discuss why Pulp Fiction is my favorite crime film of all time (and possibly my overall favorite) and what I got out of seeing it on the big screen.

Quentin Tarantino is a very distinguished and stylistic director. His films have a distinct attitude and visual style that you don't find in any other films. In most cases, you love him or you hate him. Either way, you have to respect the man for generating such a cult following. This following seemed to have started after the release of Pulp Fiction. I saw this in theaters on Thursday as part of a nationwide one-night screening in celebration of the Tarantino XX film collection being released, as well as in anticipation of Django Unchained. This was my third time watching Pulp Fiction, and it was by far my best experience with the film. Most of Tarantino's films require multiple viewings to fully comprehend, enjoy, and appreciate because all the films he makes are so radically different from each other. Every time I watch his films, I pick up on something new. Not only did I notice themes and comic elements I had missed before, it was really awesome to experience such an iconic and legendary film with an audience. The audience was gasping and laughing at all the right places which made for a great experience. I was also happy with the big turnout. That gives me hope that some people still appreciate great cinema.

This is among the top 3 best-written films I have ever watched. I find myself drawn into the small talk about foot massages and five dollar milkshakes, totally engaged with the characters and their conversation. Quentin Tarantino does a spectacular job keeping every single line of dialogue in this film interesting, comical, or thrilling in one way or another. As a dialogue-driven film, this film needs it and also thrives on it. As I watched this in theaters, hearing the audience laugh at certain points also made me pick up on how much comedy is in this film. The comedy is also subtle and dark, but so well written that you aren't really sure if you are supposed to laugh or not. This film challenges the audience to think and experience beyond what they are comfortable with and throw themselves into the intertwining stories of so many great characters (Butch being my favorite).

Another reason I love this film is the acting is spot-on. While I'm not normally a fan of John Travolta, he gives it his all in this film. Sam Jackson of course is hilariously awesome as always. Bruce Willis' performance was my favorite because you come to see in his movies and interviews that he is a very soft-spoken man. Seeing the hurdles he jumped to play the part of Butch was very entertaining, and I can't imagine anyone else filling the role the way he did.

Some of my favorite films do what Pulp Fiction does best: balancing many subplots and having a lot of character's stories without overshadowing the main characters. Sin City does this well, which is also among my top 3 favorite movies (and crime films). I love how we don't follow Jules and Vincent throughout the film. We see a little bit in the beginning, a little in the middle, and more of them at the end. Throughout the film, the stories of Lance, Marsellus Wallace, Mia Wallace, and Butch are followed closely. While Vincent is the main character, it isn't always obvious in the film, and I really dig that. Quentin Tarantino so expertly walks us through each story, and not always in chronological order, and it makes for a very engaging and compelling experience.

I remember watching Pulp Fiction for the first time and thinking, "That's it? This movie is overrated." Not until I watched it a second and third time did I appreciate the value of this film, not only as a well-written, well-acted film, but as a cultural phenomenon that will leave fanboys like myself quoting this film until the day that we die. Pulp Fiction is truly the crime film of the century and has influenced American cinema in countless ways. This film has been imitated countless times (Lucky Number Slevin, namely) but no other film, director, or writer has ever come close, and probably never will come close to achieving what Quentin Tarantino has with Pulp Fiction. This film is a masterpiece on so many levels and should be viewed by anyone that considers themselves a fan of crime films. This film is not for everyone, not only because of the strong adult content but because of how different this film is from anything else. However, I cannot recommend this film enough because it has completely changed the way I watch movies. I look forward to watching this again and getting even more out of it than I did on my last viewing.




-Kevin A. Millward
Two Dudes Doing Movie Reviews

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