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Apr 13, 2003

I was 15 when this movie came out. I liked it more a few years after its release, when I was a young college student. Since that time, my opinion of the movie has begun to decline.

With the novelty of the film's style having long since worn off, the weakness of the story really shows through. The early scene with Travlota and Uma really drags, and is largely uninteresting. The snappy dialogue throughout most of the film is pretty empty, the shock value of the violence doesn't hold a candle to Clockwork Orange even though Pulp Fiction has more blood, and Jackson's speech at the end of the film sounds more silly and contrived each time I see the film.

Reservoir Dogs was enhanced by focusing the action in a single place with a small set of characters. That movie invites you to wonder who these characters are, and you want to know because you want to figure out who the rat is. The non-linear storytelling there seems to work, because it gradually reveals information about characters and it always returns to the main story to challenge you to rethink the situation with what you now know. In Pulp Fiction, the non-linear storytelling is just part of the film's style.

The whole movie is style over substance, and when the style grows old the substance can't support the film on its own. Kill Bill may suffer a similar fate down the road, although that film is visually attractive to a degree that Pulp Fiction is not, and contains decently fun action sequences, so it may survive longer. I suspect Jackie Brown will outlast all of them, as it has the most intriguing story despite the pretty ho-hum performance from Samuel Jackson in most of his early scenes.

At any rate, Pulp Fiction does not survive the past 10 years intact, but it is still more than just an above-average film. To watch it for the first time now, I'd find it to be nothing too special, but in 1994 this was probably the best movie of the year. That the movie's style has been imitated, and often poorly imitated, over the decade since its release does diminish it, but perhaps we can just see the imitation of the film and its pop culture presence as a tribute to what the film did well.



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