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An inside look at a memorable community of criminals. Prizefighter Butch Coolidge has decided to stop payment on a deal he's made with the devil. Honey Bunny and Pumpkin are a couple of young lovers and small time thieves who decide they need a change of venue. Meanwhile, two career criminals, Vincent Vega and Jules, go about their daily business of shooting up other crooks who are late on payments to their boss. While one is asked to babysit their boss' dangerously pretty young wife, the other suddenly realizes that he must give up his life of crime.
For more about Pulp Fiction and the Pulp Fiction Blu-ray release, see Pulp Fiction Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: John Travolta, Tim Roth, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Plummer, Uma Thurman, Eric Stoltz
Director: Quentin Tarantino
» See full cast & crew
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray Review
This is some serious gourmet—well, you get the idea.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 28, 2011
Perhaps understandably a lot of film lovers insist that the greatest era of film was whatever era they grew up with, or at least whatever era it was that they started really paying attention to films. People who frequented movie houses during the Golden Age will argue that fine films pretty much ended shortly after World War II. Baby boomers will insist that nothing post-1970's has any merit. And younger audiences just now getting their sea legs in terms of wide film going experiences would probably be hard pressed to name anything they consider a classic that was released pre-1990. Such are the vagaries of time, and such are the vagaries of proclaiming any given film an "all time classic," especially if that "all time" phrase only accounts for a few years or even a couple of decades. Films need to age (like fine wine in those ads of yesteryear) in order to really LATCH ONTO something akin to a lasting reputation, no matter what the initial response to their theatrical exhibition may have been. In fact the perspective that comes with passing time, not to mention hindsight, can work both for a film's benefit or toward its detriment. There are any number of films which were pilloried upon their original release which are now considered at the very least minor classics. On the other hand, films which were the flavor du jour are now looked at with decidedly more cynical eyes. So where does Pulp Fiction reside in this rather vast spectrum? Rarely has a film been greeted with such unanimous acclaim as Pulp Fiction was in 1994. Winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year, and later nominated for seven Academy Awards (winning for the original screenplay by director Quentin Tarantino and collaborator Roger Avary), the film was lionized for doing everything from resurrecting John Travolta's then pretty moribund career to injecting new life (no pun intended, considering the famous syringe scene in the film) into the whole crime thriller neo-noir genre. But even in 1994 there were a few quibbling naysayers in the bunch, those who found the film's overarch dialogue risible and who had issues with what they perceived was the film's too self conscious attempts to be innovative. These people argued that Tarantino was simply too aware of his own brilliance, and thereby deprived Pulp Fiction of a more organic, up from the roots originality, and instead the film had a sort of pre-fab, neomodern aesthetic imposed from without that hobbled the film's inherent sensibility. What does all of this look like now from the vantage point of coming on twenty years since the film's original release?
From the vantage point of this particular reviewer, Pulp Fiction is still the bracingly original masterpiece it was when it was first released. I personally can't think of another film whose two and a half hour (more or less) running time seems to whiz by in the blink of an eye the way Pulp Fiction's does. I was frankly a little astonished when I saw how many Blu-ray.com readers hadn't yet seen Citizen Kane or Ben-Hur, two all-time classics I recently reviewed, so I shouldn't assume that most of those reading this review have already seen Pulp Fiction. Pulp Fiction handily twists Ben-Hur's straightforward narrative and even out-convolutes Citizen Kane's pretzel logic storytelling to deliver one of the most complex structures in mainstream film of at least the last fifty years, so a plot summary is well nigh impossible.
A brief survey of the many stars featured in Pulp Fiction will allow any newcomers to the film a moment to contemplate the sheer narrative audacity Tarantino employs, since really none of these parts could be rightly termed a mere cameo. The film offers John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Ving Rhames, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken and Bruce Willis in a labyrinthine plot which deals with a number of disparate and desperate characters whose lives are strangely interwoven. We have two post-ironic hitmen (Travolta and Jackson) doing dirty work for a gangland boss (Rhames) who is also demanding that a boxer (Willis) take a dive in an upcoming bout. Thurman is the moll, Roth and Plummer are goons about to hold up a café, and the few mentioned above not detailed here drift in to various plot points at certain times. But this brief (very brief) overview is a little bit like saying, "The Bible is about God," with no disrespect to either God or Mr. Tarantino.
The film has a deliberately complex structure which is decidedly non-linear, and the film also exults in a virtually nonstop stream of pop and cultural references that include everything from the mysterious glowing briefcase of Kiss Me Deadly to Marilyn Monroe's windswept skirt. Is this film self-aware, even too self-aware? Well, yes, but isn't that the point? Tarantino is a film geek par excellence, and he stuffs Pulp Fiction to the brim with references to other films, as well as any number of other cultural detritus which drifts by most of us unnoticed. Tarantino's fine eye for detail and incredible ear for dialogue has probably never had a finer moment than in Pulp Fiction.
The two most bracing things about Pulp Fiction are two elements which are seemingly at odds with each other but which in Tarantino's universe go together like hand and glove, namely violence and humor. This is a film filled to the breaking point with absolutely gratuitous, over the top violence, but it is also one of the inarguably funniest films of the past 25 years or so. What is so captivating about Tarantino's achievement is how often the violence and the humor work together, side by side, to create this film's patently manic energy. For anyone who's seen the film, memories of the first scene where the hitmen "get into character" or the later iconic scene with Thurman's character and the incredible shot of adrenaline will know exactly what I'm talking about. There are very few films that manage to walk a tightrope as artfully as Pulp Fiction does, and the fact that the film remains so seemingly effortlessly balanced is why it will remain a classic for this or any other era.
Caveat for you slipcover freaks (and you know who you are): I won't spoil the "surprise," other than to say Tarantino is playing with your OCD tendencies. Anyone looking for a "pristine" slip for Pulp Fiction is going to have to take a deep breath.
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray, Video Quality
It probably won't come as any surprise to regular Blu-ray.com readers that we reviewers are second guessed on our assessment of video and audio quality roughly 200% of the time. (I jest, but only slightly). So it's with some slight gloating that I forewarn any naysayers that this AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.35:1 was personally supervised and approved by Mr. Quentin Tarantino himself, so please aim your barbed comments his way. . .if you dare. From the first cafeteria scene, where Roth and Plummer sit in front of horizontal shades that could be a frenzy of aliasing in a less than spectacular transfer, it was obvious this was going to be a stellar effort every step of the way. While I'm sure there are going to be the usual questioners who will, for example, wonder why contrast is pushed in that selfsame opening sequence or why some shadow detail in the Jack Rabbit Slim's sequence disappears into the background blackness, this is one of the most filmically accurate transfers in recent memory, with beautifully variegated color, more than abundant fine detail (take a look at Travolta's puffy-weathered face for some great examples), excellent (if, yes, played with) contrast and solid black levels. There is some minor (as in minor) edge enhancement noticeable in a few extremely transitory moments, but it seems churlish to complain about that (though I have a feeling some will) since it is so incredibly minor.
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Pulp Fiction is a riot of sonic activity, all of it perfectly presented in this boisterous and raucous DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. It's hard to know where to begin in discussing the sonic delights available to the listener in this exceedingly well rendered track, so let's just start with the gunfire. It erupts from perfectly positioned discrete channels and simply zings every which way, much like the semi-crazy shooters themselves. Screeching cars' wheels pan appropriately from side to side and some wonderful sound effects (adrenaline shots and their aftermath, anyone?) fill the speakers with really fulsome low frequency and spot on midrange and high end. The dance contest sequence is also a standout for some great immersion, as all of the sound of Jack Rabbit Slim's surround the listener, creating a wonderful party ambience. Tarantino's great use of source cues and underscore also erupt from the speakers with a lot of panache. What's ultimately so impressive about this track is despite it being so busy so much of the time, it's extremely well prioritized and what we're supposed to hone in is never hard to discern.
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Pulp Fiction Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Revisiting Pulp Fiction for the purposes of this review was like getting back in touch with a dysfunctional family whose quirks are only too recognizable, but who you end up loving anyway. This film is so stuffed with great performances and great bits of dialogue that it's almost useless to try to single one or two moments out. Fans of the film are going to be very pleased with the video and audio components of this release, as well as a couple of new supplements appended to previously released extras. Anyone new to the film is in for one of the thrill rides of their film-loving lives. Highly recommended.
Pulp Fiction: Other Editions
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Pulp Fiction Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive 'Pulp Fiction' Interview Clip - October 7, 2011
Blu-ray.com has received courtesy of Lionsgate and Miramax an exclusive online clip of interviews which were filmed in anticipation for the upcoming Blu-ray release of Pulp Fiction, but which were not utilized in the final cut of the all new interview supplement ...
• This Week on Blu-ray: October 4-10 - October 4, 2011
Arguably the best animated film of all time – and easily the pinnacle of the Disney Renaissance - The Lion King arrives on Blu-ray today after pulling in nearly $80M over the past three weeks during its theatrical re-release as a 3D feature. Disney is offering ...
• Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and The Crow Pre-orders Up - August 5, 2011
Miramax's upcoming October titles Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and The Crow are now available for pre-orders on Amazon.com. Those much awaited classic catalog titles are attractively priced at $13.99, which continue a relatively new and welcome trend, lower ...
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