I’m not the world’s biggest Quentin Tarantino fan, even though I have met him before. Like every other cinephile, film buff or whatever we’re calling ourselves this week on this site, I celebrate the man’s entire catalogue. I can name my favorite (Jackie Brown), his best film (Inglorious Basterds), and his worst. But, I’ve spent plenty of time in his movies rolling my eyes, bored with his style-over-substance direction and wondering who loves the sounds of their own words more – QT or Kev Smith? But, the other night, I was hanging out at a friend’s house and we were looking for a movie to watch while we shared a six-pack. I found Pulp Fiction in her box of DVDs and said, “I haven’t watched this in awhile.”
I remember the first time I ever saw Pulp Fiction. I remember thinking what everybody else who saw it thought: “This movie is pretty cool.” By time I was in film school and had been schooled in the finer points of post-modernism and every single reference in the film, I grew coolly detached from Pulp Fiction. I never openly voiced my negative opinions but when a conversation veered into the territory of Fiction and it’s genius, I would quietly excuse myself and walk away, thinking, “It ain’t that cool.” It was easy for me to do so, because while I respected that movie, I was less a fan of it and Tarantino’s wildly popular first film, Reservoir Dogs. Now, I still admired Tarantino and looked forward to his films, for I was a huge Jackie Brown fan.
Jackie Brown was a movie that I fell in love with when I was in high school and watched over and over again. I didn’t see it as another tricked out rip off from Tarantino, but there was a warmth in the film that made it seem like it was hand crafted by a young man, eager to impress rather than show off, who summoned all of his talent to pay caring homage to a genre he had grown up with. I thought Tarantino showed true potential and in Jackie Brown, he started to live up to it. One of the crown jewels of my DVD collection is a 2 disc LE, signed by Robert Forster. I think every performance is brilliant, including resurgent efforts from both Forster and Pam Grier. I love watching Robert DeNiro act, Samuel L. Jackson with hair*, a vulgar Chris Tucker, Michael Keaton doing anything and Bridget Fonda. The look of the film is gorgeous and the only way you can watch it is with the sound way up, because the soundtrack is vintage QT. I recently put it on my iPod from a friend’s computer and on the drive home, texted him to tell him that it was my new favorite thing in the world. This actual article was not posted earlier because I started watching it, just to refresh myself, started watching it, let it lull me to sleep and missed my deadline. I am only slightly ashamed of that fact.
But, I love that movie and so I couldn’t wait to see Kill Bill. I liked it enough to and it got me back onto Team QT. But then he made some awful piece of garbage called Death Proof, which was only made worse when watched directly after the best Robert Rodriguez movie to date. Death Proof seemed like all the bad parts of all the Tarantino films that I didn’t liked, combined with people I didn’t really care to watch in a film. I know that I’ve taken heat for it in the past and I don’t even care. I was over that movie, before IT was over and went back to ignoring Quentin. I couldn’t be bothered.
Then came the Inglourious Basterds. The poster hangs on my wall to this day, because I think Basterds might be the greatest Tarantino film yet. It was a good thing I wasn’t on the LAMBcast about the movie, because I would’ve taken it over for myself, like I was Christoph Waltz. The biggest compliment I could give to the movie was this: I wasn’t looking forward to it, because I disliked Death Proof so much. But I forgot that Tarantino had also made Pulp Fiction. Basterds was Fiction set in World War II Germany and it was amazing. I saw it over and over that summer, maybe the movie I liked best all year and even went to a screening at the New Bev, lying to my friends that QT would be there. I lucked out and he was there, so I just shook his hand and told him I was a big fan. By 2011, when word of Django Unchained began to break, I was back to being a full-on Tarantino whore.
But, I hadn’t seen Pulp Fiction in years.
The movie held up incredibly well. I was no longer repulsed by the sight of Uma Thurman, because I love Beatrix Kiddo. I didn’t laugh at how ridiculously fat John Travolta looked in the movie – I knew he would swell up even more. It was remarkable how much the movie seemed different to me. I didn’t think it was eye-rolling boring or yawn-inducing derivative anymore – I thought it was cool again. The big scenes hit for me, I was feeling it and enjoyed watching the movie for the first time in a long time. It seemed like a pinata full of Tarantino burst op onscreen and I was picking out goodies the entire time.
I had fun with Pulp Fiction again and I was grateful to have watched it. I was glad that I had never gotten too venomous in my discord for it, but it was easy enough to enjoy again. I like Pulp Fiction, I love Jackie Brown and Inglourious Basterds and I can’t wait for Django Unchained and whatever Quentin Tarantino makes next.
*- Samuel L. Jackson with hair is like Bruce Willis with hair. It’s a tip-off that they’re acting.
Fun Fact – QT has an enormous head. It’s just huge.