****/**** Image A+ Sound A+ Extras A+
starring John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis
written and directed by Quentin Tarantino
****/**** Image A Sound A+ Extras A
starring Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro
screenplay by Quentin Tarantino, based on the novel Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard
directed by Quentin Tarantino
by Walter Chaw Seventeen years on, Pulp Fiction still works like a motherfucker. It might, indeed, benefit from the shock of its gleeful use of "nigger," the surprise of its sodomy and ultra-violence, and the sheer pleasure of hearing Sam Jackson say those lines and John Travolta dance again in a movie having faded. What's left is this appreciation of a film that is delighted with cinema and experimental without being a jerk about it (very much like Lars Von Trier's Zentropa, specifically in a black-and-white rear-process cab ride with none of that feeling that Tarantino's trying to make a point as opposed to recognizing something that looks cool and feels right)--a film that is Tarantino in all his gawky, hyperactive, movie-geeking, idioglossic splendour, fully-formed and trying only a bit too hard. Beginning life as a proposed portmanteau to be helmed by a trio of directors (à la Tarantino's later, disastrously-received foray into the anthology format, Four Rooms), the picture retains elements of its three-headed inception by intertwining a trilogy of hard-boiled crime stories in a way superior, it's clear now, to Frank Miller's career-long attempts at the same. Tarantino's purer. The stakes for him are simpler. Pulp Fiction is evidence not of someone with something to prove but of an artist entirely, and genuinely, in love with his medium. He loves film enough to push it to be everything. And Pulp Fiction almost gets there.