The Reviewing Network’s Favorite Movies #25: Pulp Fiction

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Pulp Fiction (1994) poster.jpg

Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American black comedy neo-noir crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, from a story by Tarantino and Roger Avary.[4] Directed in a highly stylized manner, Pulp Fiction connects the intersecting storylines of Los Angeles mobsters, fringe players, small-time criminals, and a mysterious briefcase. The film’s title refers to the pulp magazines and hardboiled crime novels popular during the mid-20th century, known for their graphic violence and punchy dialogue.

The screenplay of Pulp Fiction was written in 1992 and 1993, and incorporated some scenes originally written by Avary for True Romance. Its plot, as in many of Tarantino’s other works, is presented out of chronological order. The film is also self-referential from its opening moments, beginning with a title card that gives two dictionary definitions of “pulp”. Considerable screen time is devoted to monologues and casual conversations with eclectic dialogue revealing each character’s perspectives on several subjects, and the film features an ironic combination of humor and strong violence. Its script was reportedly turned down by Columbia TriStar as “too demented”. Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein was instantly enthralled with it, however, and the film became the first that Miramax fully financed.

Pulp Fiction won the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, and was a major critical and commercial success upon its U.S. release. It revitalized the careers of John Travolta (who received an Academy Award nomination), Samuel L. Jackson, and Uma Thurman. It was also nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture; Tarantino and Avary won for Best Original Screenplay. The nature of its development, marketing, and distribution – and its consequent profitability – had a sweeping effect on the field of independent cinema.

Pulp Fiction has since been widely regarded as Tarantino’s masterpiece, being praised particularly for its writing. The film’s self-reflexivity, unconventional structure, and extensive use of homage and pastiche have led critics to describe it as a touchstone of postmodern film. It is often considered a cultural watershed, with a strong influence felt not only in later movies that adopted various elements of its style, but in several other media as well. A 2008 Entertainment Weekly poll named it the best film since 1983, and the work has appeared on many critics’ lists of the greatest films ever made. In 2013, Pulp Fiction was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Tarantino at his finest, great cast, great characters, great action, great comedy, great dialogue, it’s just great entertainment.

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