Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Best Movies Of The Nineties : Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino's sophmore 1994 outing has become an iconic, much quoted reference point of an ironic, self-aware decade. Much like Nirvana did in the world of music, it's indie excellence spawned a host of inferior imitators for many years after (Lucky Number Slevin, anyone?), and proved that a great movie could be made outside of major studio patronage.

While the former video store geek turned film maker rejuvenated the film career of John Travolta (a middle aged white man rarely looked so cool) and, to a lesser extent, Bruce Willis, Pulp Fiction also made household names of Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson with their excellent performances, allowing us to forgive a brief execrable turn from the writer-director himself. Oh, and Christopher Walken delivers a hilarious cameo as a former Vietnam vet who goes to far beyond the call of duty to deliver a very special watch.

Key to Tarantino's unique directorial voice was his purposeful use of non-linear narrative, sparkling, witty dialogue and obsessional attention to detail, particularly with reference to the canon of both great movies like the work of Hitchcock, and the pulp, genre movies that formed his filmic education and give the movie its' title. While we are introduced to a world of small-time hired thugs, drug dealers, thieves and other stock low-life, they behave in unexpected ways, from verbosely discussing the meaning of a foot massage, to quoting the bible when executing a foe.

And whether it's Jackson chomping on a Big Cahuna Burger, or Travolta ordering a pack of Red Apple cigs in a bar (both fictional brands appear in other movies by the director), there is evidence throughout of a revelling in attention to detail in every aspect of Pulp Fiction that shows it to be a labour of love by Tarantino, and since the film routinely charts highly in best movie of all time lists, it seems to prove that the geek shall indeed inherit the earth.

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