Welcome to part two of my five part series on my top five favorite movies. Part two will be discussing the fourth favorite movie in my list of five favorite movies. In an attempt to stay true to the title of this blog, I would like to inform the audience (anyone who stumbled upon this website in search of a picture of ash ketchums face) that I use no form of a scale, rating system, or criteria of any kind to determine what makes it on the top five. I let my gut do the thinking and it makes 100% of the decisions in my stead, that way I know I am never wrong.
4. Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, 1994)
This was a relatively simple choice. Gangs of New York (Scorsese, 2002) is an amazing film but could be replaced quite easily with a handful of other films that are on just about the same level. We are now moving into the realm of undeniable greatness. I didn’t summarize my last film (which may have been a bit of an oversight) and I certainly don’t plan on summarizing Pulp Fiction. My logic being that a person who takes the time out of their day to read a movie review, especially one as obscure as this, will have already viewed Pulp Fiction numerous times. I also don’t want this article to be a repeat of my last article (but I have a feeling it will be) where I just suck the director and actors dick for a page and a half. You can just go ahead and assume that the writing, directing, and acting were all spectacular. Detractors of Tarantino (I am talking about the partially reasonable ones, not the pussies who think his movies are too bloody) will say that he steals much of his work from other directors and writers. There is no getting around that fact but I believe it can be significantly justified.
The title of Reservoir Dogs (Tarantino, 1992) is an in-joke based off the mispronunciation of Au Revoir les Enfants (Malle, 1987), the robbers code names are swiped from the original Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Sargent, 1974), the hit men’s iconic costumes in Pulp Fiction are actually originally from A Better Tomorrow II (Woo, 1987), Jackie Brown (Tarantino, 1997) has many clear associations to the blaxploitation film Foxy Brown (Hill, 1974) including Pam Grier being the titular star in both movies, Kill Bill (Tarantino, 2003) is just one massive conglomerate made up of parts taken from classic Kung Fu movies, and Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino, 2009) is loosely (I am using the term loosely loosely) based on The Inglorious Bastards (Castellari, 1978). He has also been accused of taking many ideas from his ex writing partner Roger Avary, but from what I have read, the accusations of plagiarism have never been substantiated and appear to be mostly just online gossip (when you little scamps get together, you’re worse than a sewing circle).
As far as his films go, you can look at it one of two ways: Quentin Tarantino can either be a Ned Holdis or a Gregg Gillis. Ned Holdis is the birth name of comedian (I am using the term comedian loosely) Carlos Mencia, who has stolen numerous jokes from more talented comics than himself and pawned them off as his own creation. Many struggling artists do not have time or resources to copywrite their material so these offenses go unpunished and Holdis makes obscene amounts of money. On the other hand, Gregg Gillis is the DJ more commonly known as Girl Talk, who mashes up hits from all genres and makes some of the most delightful music in the world. Many of the songs are heavily copywritten (that is a word, right?) and backed up by gigantic corporations with swarms of litigious lawyers and Gillis makes a pittance from tours around the world (right about now I am wondering, you should be too, what any of this has to do with Pulp Fiction being one of my favorite movies). My point being, Holdis takes from others for personal benefit because he lacks the talent to do it on his own while Gillis takes things he enjoys and puts them together in a unique and original way. Obviously, I see Tarantino as the latter. What he does, he does in honor of the other movies, not in an attempt to steal with the hope that no one notices.
But back to Pulp Fiction, I re-watched most of the film last night to confirm my suspicions and sure enough it is true. There is not one bad scene in the entire movie. Of all the outstanding characteristics, the dialogue stands out the most in my mind. The back and forth between characters rivals the incredible writing of Aaron Sorkin (and sounds much more natural too, nobody I have ever met talks at that pace in a normal conversation). The content manages to be poignant and memorable while simultaneously possessing the feel of an everyday discussion. His dialogue can most accurately be described, by a term I made up just now, as Tarantino-y (let’s try to top that). A style in which his newer films tend to suffer from, most notably Inglourious Basterds, where at certain points the dialogue becomes so esoteric it feels as though he is just trying to impress the viewers. Fortunately, Pulp Fiction finds that happy medium of Tarantino-y (they never did) dialogue that not only makes the film enjoyable to watch again and again but almost mandates it (I pretty much have Samuel L. Jackson’s apartment monologue memorized). So I give it an unheard of:
6 out of 5 signs on my lawn that say…well I am sure you know what they say.
P.S. for anybody who happens to be a big Ned Holdis fan (unlikely) and believe that we steal a bunch of our stuff from other people, then (for what I can only assume is the first time in your life) you are right. The website title is clearly a term coined on The Colbert Report and I personally use multiple lines lifted straight from Arrested Development and 30 Rock (so much so that as I write this article, I have a second browser opened to a google search where I type in part of a line and it auto-fills the rest to complete accuracy). We do this, however, because we are avid fans of these shows. In no way are we trying to claim this material as our own. Now I just need to figure out why the symbol from Ghost Busters (I. Reitman, 1984) is used in our heading. Was that a question or a statement? Well that certainly was a question.