Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Pulp Fiction at 20

Published Thursday, 15 May 2014
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For one day only, in selected cinemas across the country, director Quentin Tarantino's epic crime drama Pulp Fiction celebrates its twentieth anniversary with a special re-release.

Time once again to "Bring out the gimp".

Back in 1994, I was a rookie young reviewer cutting my teeth and slowly losing the will to live watching the bloated Hollywood fare of Forrest Gump, The Flintstones and Lassie. Then, along came Pulp Fiction, swaggering with cool and bending all the rules.

Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) are a couple of wise guys assigned by their fearsome employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) to retrieve a stolen suitcase.
Along the way, they shoot the breeze. "You know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Paris?" Vincent asks Jules, "A Royale with cheese" he declares.

Vincent has also been instructed by Wallace to entertain his sassy young wife Mia (Uma Thurman while he is out of town. They go on an awkward date to Jack Rabbit Slims, a fabulously kitsch fifties diner with movie-star named steaks and shakes served by a Buddy Holly lookalike waiter. Here, they take to the stage in a dancing contest, twisting their way to the title and into trouble.

Meanwhile Butch (Bruce Willis) is an ageing boxer paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. However, when he fails to take the fall, he is forced to flee but not before recovering his most treasured possession, his fathers war-torn watch.

Tarantino skilfully weaves these darkly bizarre LA stories together in a shockingly entertaining way.
I first saw the film in the company of legendary film critic Robert Shelton, who was dismayed that Pulp Fiction had garnered the prestigious Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and not Three Colours Red. I couldn't care less about prizes but I was sure something extraordinary had happened on screen.

Thirty one year old Tarantino had made his mark in the art-house cinemas, two years earlier with his debut film, Reservoir Dogs. But Pulp Fiction would propel him into the mainstream and the multiplexes. An exciting new filmmaker had remixed the form.Tarantino had mashed up contemporary culture with classic crime and turned American cinema inside out,. My head was left spinning from the unexpected acts of violence, the sudden shifts in tone and the countless killer lines of dialogue.

What I remember most first time around is relentlessly playing that iconic soundtrack to death, twisting and shouting to Dick Dale, Kool & the Gang and Neil Diamond. But what is most striking two decades later, is the sheer space in every scene for characters to jabber. Two and a half hours of foul mouthed fast talking mayhem that would become Quentin Tarantino's trademark.

Still crazy after all these years, Pulp Fiction at 20 is not to be missed.


Pulp Fiction (Cert 18) will be screened at the Movie House, Dublin Road on Wednesday 21st May. Check your local cinema for details.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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