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October 17, 1994 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-10-17

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iRTS

Believe the hype:'Pulp icoi os ls
tuentin Tarantino deserves awards and praise for his explosive film

By SCOTT PLAGENHOEF
Load up on guns and bring your
friends, "Pulp Fiction" has finally ar-
rived. Following a summer of praise,
hype and countless profiles on writer-
director Quentin Tarantino, the film hit

A

Directed by
Quentin Tarantino
with John Travolta,
Samuel L. Jackson,
Bruce Willis and
Uma Thurman.

nential rise towards the film elite by
extracting the already recognizable
definitive elements of filmmaking style
he displayed in "Dogs" and transfer-
ring them to a much larger scale.
"Pulp Fiction" is a triptych of sepa-
rately told, yet somewhat related, crime
vignettes. Tarantino's presentation of
the incidents as separate stories is a
further tipping of the hat to the lurid,
expendable pulp novels of the thirties
and forties. They influence the film and
allow him to upset the traditional struc-
ture of time and narrative.
The first two of the three vignettes'
skeletal storylines are nothing remotely
original. This is a further and inten-
tional reference to the pulp books which
inspired the film's format. In the first of
the three, VincentVega (John Travolta)
is charged with chaperoning his vola-
tile crime boss' wife (Uma Thurman)
on a night out, having to resist tempta-
tion when she begins to make herself
seem increasingly available. In the sec-
ond, a boxer (Bruce Willis) plans to
double cross said crime boss, Marsellus
(Ving Rhames), and split town. Yet,
despite the typicality of the initial
storylines, Tarantino upends the situa-
tions and sends his characters and the
audience spiraling in unexpected di-
rections.

Despite the clever circularity of the
plot, however, it is the script which
allows "Pulp Fiction" to transcend all
expectations associated with the crime
and gangster genres. Tarantino's abil-
ity to create oddball, almost slapstick
diatribes about the most insidious of
subjects, give them a lush, near surreal
humor and juxtapose them with spats
of ultra-violence. This technique gives
"Pulp Fiction," as it did "Reservoir
Dogs," something usually reserved for
Audrey Hepburn's films rather than
Harvey Keitel's charm.
The most welcome surprise about
"Pulp Fiction" is just how extremely
comedic, (albeit the comedy is often
pitch black), a film it is. Tarantino
spreads humor throughout in numer-
ous one-liners, a hilarious Christopher
Walken monologue which twists just
when you thought Tarantino was going
soft and even a single, inspired use of
animation.
The kinetic, rich dialogue of
Tarantino's characters is indicative that
Tarantino is a true talent, despite the
seven-year stint as a video store clerk
as his only film training. Writing snappy
and irreverent dialogue and using it as
the centerpiece of his films allows him
to create richer, more charismatic char-
acters than if they were defined simply

by their actions. Although Tarantino
has ground himself in action films thus
far, his ability to write dialogue and use
it to create well-rounded characters
will prepare him to do just about any-
thing, f he only continues to challenge
himself.
Outside of Tarantino himself, John
Travolta had received the greatest pre-
film hype. Touted by many critics as
Travolta's comeback film (as well as
his return to the dance floor), he is
given the largest part in the ensemble
cast and takes advantage of it, display-
ing the mix of bravado and vulnerabil-
ity which he inserted in the role of Tony
Manero 17 years ago.
Despite Travolta's sudden return
to legitimacy, it is Samuel L. Jackson,
portraying a criminal contemplating
leaving the life, who highlights the
cast. Jackson's jheri-curled Jules is a
true professional, yet despite the cold-
heartedness inherent in his occupation,
he is full of humanity. Jackson's por-
trayal of Jules is the most well-rounded
of the cast and no small accomplish-
ment. Each of the four major male
characters-Vincent, Butch, Marsellus
and Jules - have to do some soul
searching. Each have to confront the
tendencies that they have developed
throughout their violent and macho

w
theaters on Friday.
Quite unlike the sense of discovery
that accompanied the initial screenings
of "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction"
has had expectations heaped on it since
it rode out of Cannes this spring with
the Palme d'or prize, awarded to the
festival's top film.
Fortunately, "Pulp Fiction" deliv-
.The film is a two-and-a-half hour
reminderofquitesimplyjusthow much
fun a motion picture can be. "Pulp
Fiction" continues Tarantino's expo-

Bruce Willis' performance in "Pulp Fiction" proves that he can actually act.

lives when certain situations do not
turn out as expected.
"Pulp Fiction" returns to the film
industry the ability to combine sheer,
unadulterated enjoyment (provided the
audience has the constitution) without
having to sacrifice intelligence. Rather
than attempt to find a careful niche and
audience with which to define it, "Pulp
Fiction" transcends the genres of gang-

ster, action, film noir and black com-
edy. Tarantino doesn't make films in-
tended to appeal to Schwarzenegger
fans, Scorsese fans or any other spe-
cific consumerdemographic, hemakes
them for himself. Those who can jump
on and enjoy his rides are all the better
for it.
PULP FICTION is playing at
Showcase and Briarwood

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*1

By HEATHER PHARES
Miracles can and dohappen. Griev-
ing rock widows can tour just months
*er their bereavement; said tours can
sell out rapidly, drawing massive
crowds; andpeoplecanstill(justbarely)

get into said she ws at the last minute of
the eleventh hour. There detinitely was
something miraculous in the air on
Saturday night, for the long awaited,
eagerly anticipated Veruca Salt /Mad-
der Rose / Hole show was about to take
place.
Aside from some bummers like the
neverending line to get in the show,
ket mix-ups, tons of indie tykes and
averyscary Kurt Cobain lookalike who
tried unsuccessfully for two hours to
get backstage, the atmosphere was
charged.
First onstage was the trendy band
of the moment, Veruca Salt. Their look
is unbearably cute indie geek; their
sound as sweet and unrefined as cane
sugar. They gave the crowd plenty of
chotic, girlish pop, like the infec-
us "Seether" and future hits "For-
sythia" and "All Hail Me." The mosh
pit was slammin' (love those all-ages
shows!) with plenty of preteen
punkettes being thrown about and trod
upon and big sweaty boys doing the
majority of the trampling.
But it was Veruca Salt who con-
trolled the sweaty masses with their

music, which sounded both tougher
and more original live than it does on
"American Thighs," the Verucas' de-
but. They performed ably, hinting at a
career beyond "Seether."
Next on the roster was New York's
beautiful losers, MadderRose. Though
they have better melodies and hooks
than Veruca Salt, they seemed doomed
to be always the opening band and
never the headliner. For though they
played a fantastic set with some of their
best tunes, plenty of annoying types
revved up by the earlier moshing stood
around, baffled at Madder Rose's liter-
ate, melancholy jangle pop. Within the
set's first few songs, people were leav-
ing the floor to answer the call of nature
or whatever.
Which is a blooming shame, for
songs like "Bring it Down" and "What
Holly Sees" were performed beauti-
fully by the band, especially Mary
Lorson, whose graceful guitar playing
and singing were utterly wasted on an
audience too busy getting wasted to
listen; indeed, Madder Rose cut their
set short, sensing that the audience's
attention was wilting.
At last, Hole finally came onstage.
Unlike the two opening bands, who,
were polite and rather drably dressed,
Courtney Love and the rest of her band
approached the stage with a sense of
theater: as Hole took the stage, the
divine (or is it diabolical?) Miss L
threw off the long, dark trenchcoat she
was wearing to reveal a gleaming white
satin babydoll dress.
Her manner alternated between
vulnerable widow, bitch-goddess and
stand-upcomedienne: shethrewthings,
including various doll limbs, mineral
water and her coat into the audience,

Don.t Panic!!
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Shown with her band Hole, Courtney Love proved that miracles do happen.

who loved it. Spying a Nine Inch Nails;
baseball cap on somebody in the audi-
ence, Love growled, "Get that fuckin'
NINhatoffrightnow!"only tomumble
later "Just kiddin'." Sundry comments

about devil worship and the members
of her band ("Patty's gonna be the first
girl ever on the cover of 'Drum
See HOLE, Page 7

Mitch is away on Monday and Tuesday!
NO COVR
$2.00 Pitchers
$.50 cans MGD & MGD Light
Remember: Mitch serves only 60 oz Jumbo pitchers and
premium beer - Not tiny pitchers and "rot-gut" beer!!!

The Department of Philosophy
The University of Michigan
announces

THE TANNER

E s3.50 STUDENT rWT
BEFORE 6 PM GOODRICH QUALITY T

LECTURE ON HUMAN'
1994-95

VALUES

. .. . w

Present This Coupon
When Purchasing A 1
MAR I'ANDAU LargePopcorn & &
A ROBERT REDFORD FILM Receive One 1
U IZ -
The UM Center for Chinese Studies presents:
The Leonard Woodcock
Seminar
"Sino-US Trade Relations
and the Future of the Chinese Economy"
Principal Speaker: Nicholas Lardy

Daniel Kahneman
Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology
Professorof Public Affairs,
Woodrow Wilson School of Public
and International Affairs
Princeton University
THE COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY OF
CONSEQUENCES AND MORAL INTUITION
Friday, October 21, 4:00 p.m.
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre,
Michigan League, 911 North University

SYMPOSIUM ON THE TANNER LECTURE
DANIEL KAHNEMAN
JOHN BROOME
Professor of Economics and Ethics
University of Bristol

i

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