Pulp Fiction ★★★★½

Pulp Fiction is another one of those movies that had a huge impact on me when I first started to watch movies more "seriously", possibly moreso than anything else I watched during that formative period; sometimes, I would just let it play in the background, as a sort of cinematic soundtrack for my room, even. Because of this constant playing, I burned myself out on the prospect of watching it again for a long time, and just recently got around to seeing it again for the first time in over a decade, with older, hopefully fresher eyes, removed in time from that original period of euphoria surrounding the film. Fortunately, it's still mostly held up strong all these years later, and while I did notice more flaws with it this time, and unfortunately, wouldn't be able to include it on my short list of personal favorites anymore, I still feel that it's a really, really good movie in the end.

First off, while the copious amount of dialogue here now feels occasionally more self-indulgent than it used to, it's still definitely not as bloated as Tarantino's gotten in some of his subsequent films, and though the whole "pawn shop" sequence almost feels like a self-parody of the excesses QT's built his career on, it ultimately isn't enough to overshadow the film's heart, and recurring theme of redemption. And, while we're on the subject of flaws, you could delete the character of Marvin and "The Bonnie Situation" plot from the film entirely and not lose a thing, but whatever.

Anyway, one of the facets of Pulp that has gotten better over the years is how strong the fundamental character relationships in it are; whether it be the clashing attitudes and philosophies of Jules & Vincent, the unlikely beauty-and-the-beast dynamic of Butch & Fabienne, or even the unpredictable Bonnie-and-Clyde bond of supporting characters "Pumpkin & Honey Bunny", Fiction is constantly wringing compelling cinema out of its various relationships, even when the characters are just talking, and nothing's "happening" in a strictly plot sense. Tarantino consistently resists the urge to rush things along here, letting the seemingly irrelevant small talk play out in a rather relaxed fashion, which makes the characters feel like real people and not just plot devices or caricatures, and imagining Pulp without all that chatter is simply an impossibility.

Besides all of that, I also just have to admire the one-of-a-kind vibe PF has, y'know? It weaves this twisted, out-of-order, complex web of the LA underworld, where every single lowlife is "colorful" (to say the least), and there's always an awesome soul, surf rock, or other awesomely eclectic tune playing in the background, a soundtrack that's no less stylish than the direction itself. Speaking of which, Tarantino's dynamic storytelling here almost always knows exactly when to ramp up the energy level and when to just let things play out, the atmosphere carries the best sort of dark, comic tension that Tarantino has become famous for (before he started descending into self-parody), and the whole affair just has this uniquely stylish, meta level of self-awareness that kept me going back to it again and again all those years ago, resulting in what is deservedly one of the most iconic movies of the 90's. Who could ask for anything more?