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September 14, 1995 - Image 17

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-14

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The Michigan Daily - W4/e4 tU. - Thursday,September 14, 1995 - 38

Pulp Fiction: like we really need it on video already

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Sound and Fury
This summer I donned a bit of
academic pretentiousness and
American naivete, and played the
expatriate writer. I went abroad to
take a literature course at Cambridge,
then spent some time in London and
Paris. On the way, I felt all wishy-
washy, a bit awestruck about studying
in the same halls as John Keats and
Virginia Woolf; a tad excited about
roaming Paris and London, the
stomping grounds of legendary
literary expatriates like T.S.. Eliot and
Ernest Hemingway.
Above all, I was excited about*
spending several weeks without the
whir of American media and enter-
tainment. I had had it with Pocahantas
happy meals, Hootie and the Blow-
fish, and Batman. My job as a news
writer at a CBS radio station had
given me my fill of Hugh Grant's
Hollywood Hooker and the lingering
O.J. trial. I wanted some culture,
some history, some tradition. I
Isought I was headed to the right
So, it was with some dismay that I
stepped off the subway at King's
Cross station in London (looking
hopelessly American, I might add)
and heard a street musician playing
Bon Jovi's classic British epic "Dead
or Alive." Up the stairs and into the
streets of London, my first sight was
a bustling Burger King, complete
with Judge Dredd collector's cups.
America's snap, crackle, pop culture
was following me.
But once I retired to the idyllic
university town of Cambridge, things
changed. Treading the same footpaths
as Milton once tread, I went into a
restaurant, famished from my
transatlantic journey. I struck up a
conversation with a traveler from
Poland. Ah, I thought, this is that
international European flavor I had
been longing for! (Actually, in all
honesty, my newfound East European
chum and I were dining on Super
Hero Meal Deals at McDonalds, and
the reason I struck up a conversation
with the lad is because he was
wearing a "Michigan Basketball" t-
From day one, my experience
abroad had a distinctly American
flare. No matter how far I wandered
in English Gardens, or how many
obscure ales I sipped in out of the
way pubs, U.S. pop culture followed
me. I met a student from Russia
wearing a "Just Do It" sweatshirt, and
another from Italy wearing a "Do the
Bartman" tee. I traded an old "Go
Blue" t-shirt for a pair of used Doc
Martens on my last day in London. I
sipped cider in a pub that legendary
writers like Malcolm Lowry used to
get sloshed at, while Warren G.
thumped from the MTV satellite
hook-up. I spent my time riding the
Metro in Paris looking at Sandra
Bullock's sneering little face on the
"While You Were Sleeping" posters
that plastered the town. I saw more
Budweiser t-shirts than I have since
the wacky Spuds MacKenzie craze.
Of course, there were some
benefits to American pop culture's

saturation of Europe. My last night in
Paris, sharing a peaceful dinner with
some lovely new friends just
wouldn't have been complete without
the Lionel Richie music that floated
smoothly through the air. And really,
my last night in a British pub, I did
want to drown my depression in the
Smiths, the Pogues or the Kinks; but
hey, I got to hear some Hootie and the
Blowfish. I mean, we kids just love
Hootie. You know what they say,
"Those kids are just wild about
To be honest, though, American
pop culture's looming presence
became a small detail on my trip. The
cities I visited were so rich in history,
they possessed a tradition that existed
before our continent was even
discovered But our nonular culture

By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
Would it be sacriligious to suggest
that "Pulp Fiction" will soon be in-
cluded in dictionaries as a synonym for
"messiah?" Probably not. Many col-
lege students and quite a few other film
fans around the nation might actually
find such a label appropriate. After all,
this movie, released almost one year
ago, has already become a bona fide
pop cultural phenomenon; it does more
than just headline poster sales in the
Michigan Union, it has, in some strange
way, become a way of life.
Imagine this: just as they will not
know about some ancient thing called
"Entree Plus" or the fact that the UGLi
was ever actually ugly, first-year stu-
dents here at Michigan will never know
Ann Arbor without "Pulp Fiction." It
has, since its initial October release at
the larger Briarwood and Showcase the-
aters, never left this town. And pres-
ently it is the staple flick at the popular
State Theater, now the preposterously
self-proclaimed "Home of 'Pulp Fic-
Then again, that name may not be
too far from the truth. Since it picked
up "Pulp Fiction" last December, the
State has made over $100,000 off the
movie in its 41-week run. (Suffice it
to say, the State has no plans to get rid
of the hit any time soon.) Thus, in the
past 10 months, seeing this film seems
to have become as common an Ann
Arbor pastime as taking a walk in the
Arb or going to Stucchi's for a late-
night snack.
So why are we, intelligent and di-
verse college students from all over the
world so drawn to a film that seems to
add little to our lives except senseless
violence and politically incorrect hu-
mor? Perhaps it is the exciting blend of
comedy, action and suspense so finely
crafted in "Pulp Fiction" that keep us
continually interested. Maybe it is the
outstanding and exaggerated acting that
draws us to it. Or it could be the com-
plex, clever dialogue that tickles our
funny bones.
Whatever the reason, like "A Clock-
work Orange," "The Rocky Horror Pic-

ture Show" and even "Airplane!" be-
fore it, "Pulp Fiction" is destined to
become a cult (if not mainstream) clas-
sic on this campus as well as on most
others across America. It is now the
most profitable independent film of all
time, grossing over $100 million at the
box office (and still counting) - al-
most twice the earnings of the next
highest indie flick. And this trend of
popularity will almost certainly receive
a boost as the film is released on home
video this week.
For those who don't already know:
"Pulp Fiction" focuses on a few days
in the lives of some Los Angeles gang-
sters who pass the time shooting
people in the head, overdosing on
heroin and dancing the twist, among
other things.
In at least his third "career come-
back" (although I'm not sure whether
leading parts in "Staying Alive" and
"Look Who's Talking," count as ma-
jor turning points in a career or not),
John Travolta stars as ignorant hit-
man Vincent Vega. It is undeniably
his most exceptional performance
since he strutted his stuff in 1976's
disco classic "Saturday Night Fever."
True to form, this '70s icon is shown
doing more than just killing people and
waxing poetic about foot massages. He
shines in the film's most memorable
scene (and there are so many!) when, in
a room filled with other icons from the
past, he boogies with co-star Uma
Vincent's partner Jules is played
by the always impressive Samuel L.
Jackson who, after years of being an
underrated talent in Hollywood, has
finally gained some well-awaited and
much-deserved notoriety. Unlike his
dolt of a companion, Jules is a virtual
pop culture encyclopedia who has a
1970s model for everything he does
- such as aspiring to be like Kane in
"Kung Fu." "Kung Fu?" How ran-
Bruce Willis also stars as his most
fascinating character to date. In "Pulp
Fiction," Willis jumps far out of his
usual action movie persona to play
haunted boxer Butch. His is a complex
personality, a homicidal brute who is

also a tender lover and gallant hero.
Though he has few lines, Willis domi-
nates the screen with his slick-shaven
head and frighteningly amusing adven-
Throw in a plethora of assorted cam-
eos - Harvey Keitel's reprise of a
similar role he had in "Point of No
Return" (1993) as a savvy "cleaner,"
Tim Roth's bumbling robber, Eric
Stoltz's high-strung drug dealer and
director/GOD Quentin Tarantino's bit
part as a relatively innocent bystander
-and you have a film that is an actor's
dream and a film connoisseur's sweet
candy treat. "Pulp Fiction" has jump-
started the careers of all involved and
made Tarantino virtually a household
name (he is already included by many
in an elite class of stylized violent film
directors like Sam Peckinpah and John
So while "Pulp Fiction" is certain to
dominate video sales and rentals for the
next few months - and we are bound to
watch it even more - look for many of
those involved in upcoming projects
this winter. Director Tarantino lends
his hand in the group directorial effort
"Four Rooms," Willis stars in another
offbeat film, this time as a futuristic
bald guy in director Terry Gilliam's
"Twelve Monkeys," and Travolta will
act in the film version of the cult novel
"Get Shorty."
Travolta is the first to admit that he
now takes most career guidance from
new pal Quentin, hence his starring
role in this upcoming film. And do
.you blame him? Upon seeing how
Tarantino boosted Travolta and many
others' careers by casting them in his
insta-classic, I certainly wouldn't
hesitate to consider any advice the
guy might have to give me. After all,
this kind of genius arises only once in
a long while.
"Before Sunrise" - Hot French ac-
tress Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke have
a brief romance on a European train.
All's going well until Ethan starts up
with all his teenage angst and "O Cap-
tain, My Captain!" crap again.
"Boys on the Side" - Whoopi
Goldberg and Drew Barrymore take
along some others on a cross-country
jaunt. On the way, they discover their
womanhood and that their movie is a
complete rip-off of "Thelma and
"The Brady Bunch Movie" - Who
gets to choose between Doug Simpson,
the "Big Man on Campus," and his

meek alter ego, Charlie, to take to the
big dance on Friday night? Marcia,
Marcia, Marcia!
"Children of the Corn 3" - Isn't it
amazing how they manage to make
sequels to stupid Stephen King horror
films that we never saw or heard of in
the first place?
"Just Cause" - In this stupid, un-
original crime story, "L.A. Law" alum-
nus Blair Underwood finds a career
again, ever-aging Sean Connery plays
some washed-up lawyer with a beauti-
ful wife he doesn't deserve, Ed Harris
plays mean, and Laurence Fishburne
spends the time convincing everyone to
stop calling him "Larry."
"Kiss of Death" - In this exciting
remake of the 1947 classic, Nicolas
Cage and David Caruso star in direc-
tor Barbet Schroeder's dark and fright-
ening tale of an ex-con who struggles
to go straight. All Caruso's Jimmy
wants to do is settle down with his
beautiful wife (Helen Hunt) and raise
a family. But misfortune and evil fol-
lows our hero no matter how hard he
tries. His wife dies, his family turns
on him, and a failed truck hijacking
lead crime boss Cage to hunt Jimmy
"The Last Seduction" - Overnight
success has befallen star Linda
Fiorentino after her impressive portrayal
as a sneaky femme fatale in this fun
"Major Payne" - Damon Wayans
fronts this silly comedy about a misfit
military guy who, as punishment, is
assigned to command a platoon of
wacky kids. For all you smart people
who saved your money in anticipation
of this film's video release, it's finally
here ... hooray!
"Nell" - Jodie Foster plays a re-
tarded mountain woman with a kind

heart. Liam Neeson and real-life wife
Natasha Richardson play rival psychia-
trists who fall in love while fighting
over control of the poor girl. Oh God!
Not another one of those movies.
"Nobody's Fool" - Bouncing
around a small town in the Northeast,
old man Paul Newman lights up the
lives of everyone he meets. He is the
most popular person in town, at least
until that pesky Nell arrives. Feel good
"Red" - The third installment in
director Kryzstof Kieslowski's "Three
Colors" trilogy, this film stars stunning
Irene Jacob as a naive Swiss model who
has amysterious affair with ahigh court
judge. Excellent cinematography and
psychological intrigue dominate this
movie that features a strange finale unit-
ing "Red" with its predecessors, "Blue"
and "White."
"Star Trek: Generations" - For all
the "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
fans out there, this film features the cast
of the hit TV show. To make matters
even better, pathetic Bill Shatner dies
... twice, finally legitimizing Picard's
assumption to the Enterprise's captain's

'Angus, I salute you'

Coming soon: September 19th
"The Madness of King George,~
"Losing Isiaih" -
"iAian ofNoImpoarance"~
"Buffalo girls
U. 4
~ /4 ,e

Bruce Willis wonders how "Hudson Hawk" got in a cool movie as "?ulp Fiction."

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