Venkat's take on Pulp Fiction in Poddu prompted me to write this piece. After all it is one of my all time favorites, and I wanted to jot down some scenes that I loved in the movie.
The first time I saw Pulp Fiction was back in my Calcutta days (daze?) with a boisterous bunch of fellow-IIMC friends. I didn't follow the dialogue completely (in that case, avid fans would say, I didn't follow the movie at all - but hang on, I made up for it later!); but I walked out of the theatre admiring QT's narrative style. That was my first exposure to a dismembered movie, a movie chopped up into pieces and thrown about in a disorderly fashion - but with sufficient interesting elements in each piece that audience is forced figure the proper sequence themselves. Such an experiment is a tough call, if done badly, the audience wouldn't care a damn -and the movie fails. Not so with Pulp Fiction. Later on, I picked up the movie VCD gave it multiple viewings, then downloaded the movie's script, read and re-read it, and now I own the fully loaded 2 disc DVD set.
By the way of a review, I won't be able to write what hasn't already been written, there are reams on reams out there on the movie, many movie clubs have dissected the movie many ways and have come up with a whole lot of interesting trivia. You can read those, and verify them in your next viewing - its fun. For example, whenever John Travolta visits a loo in the movie something bad happens :)) For a quick primer on the movie quotes, you can start here.
Well now, here is a subset of my favourite scenes in the movie.
1. The first conversation: Before the credits roll, there is a thieving couple's lengthy deliberation on whether to rob the restaurant. Credits happen with some wonderful sound tracks and then comes the 'First conversation' between Sameul Jackson and John Travolta. This is the first of many interesting, hilarious, insightful discussions they have through out the movie. They talk Amesterdam, Metric system, Burgers, Mayonesse, French Fries, Foot massages, TV Pilots - everything but the killings they are about to do. It sets tone for the rest of the movie and what's more this one gets better with repeated viewings.
It is not a stretch to say that the movie is all about dialogue. In any other movie a line that might strike you as a non sequitur comes of as a brilliant humorous piece in Pulp Fiction; partly because of the backgroud work QT lays out. To give you an example, Samuel Jackson has his gun trained on the mark and goes into a discussion on Big Kahuna burgers, and asks why Europeans don't call Big Mac a quarter pouder. When the mark replies 'Is it because of the metric system?', you just can't help but laugh out! This one also reminds me of a scene in "From Dusk till Dawn" (QT, Robert Rodriguez collaboration), a movie that's good for the first half after which it becomes a mindless vampire story. George Clooney is about to kill this caucasian guy, when he looks at his son and says "how come your son looks like a Jap?"
2. The miracle: Soon after Jackson and Travolta send their targets packing to the netherworld, a heavily hyper chap hiding in the bathroom all along storms out and sprays bullets at them. The miracle? Not one bullet hits them. Both hitmen raise their guns at the sametime, and 2 shots that sound as one silence the unfortunate sucker. This one is funny because of Sameul Jackson's interpretation that follows about their miraculous escape.
3. Christopher Walken's monologue: Bruce Willis plays a boxer on the run from his boss. Christopher Walken, his dad's friend, appears for a few minutes in a flashback scene (when Willis is a child). Walken comes to Willis to hand him his family heirloom, a watch. With a deadpan expression he launches into one of the funniest monologues of all time about the watch that has been with Willis' family for generations and the troubles his dad faced (assed?) to keep the watch safe. Just too good!
4. Harvey Keitel's clean-up: If you have a problem, Harvey Keitel (The wolf) is your go-to- man. 'He fixes problems', that's what he does. Jackson and Travolta have one such bloody problem, a messy deadbody with blood and body parts splattered all over their car. The reason? a bump on the road and John Travolta's gun going off by mistake! (Speed bumps, bread piece boucing out of a toaster - such mundane things trigger killings in this movie!)
The scenes leading up to Harvey Keitel's entry are funny enough, with QT making an appearance (a tasty coffee and a lengthy discourse on why his coffee is tasty!) and cribbing about the bloodied car in his yard. The wolf arrives at his home on dot as promised and gets down to his work in an orderly fashion. His work? Making Jackson and Travolta clean up the mess and then themselves. His whole demeanor of an efficient manager kicking ass of subordinates is too good. And then there is his nod to QT after the first sip of coffee.
5. Medieval stuff: Willis is on the run from Ving Rhames. Ving is Marsellus, the man with a band-aid patch on his nape, the dreaded mafia boss. When Willis saves Marsellus' ass (quite literally) from a couple of homos, all is forgiven, but Marsellus has a reputation to protect. He spares Willis but banishes him from the city - then turns towards the homo and delivers his chilling verdict for the guy's short-lived life. I can't but help laugh out loud when he says that 'he's going to get some hard pipe-hitting folks and let them go medieval on the homo'.
Then there are many many more oneliners like "I am American baby, American names don't mean shit", "Lets not suck each others XXXXs quite yet", "I am the foot-fXXXX master", "This is not a motorcycle baby, its a chopper" that work magic whenever I watch the movie.
Hey, I am going to watch this DVD once more tonight.