Sunday, December 12, 2004

My Quentin Tarantino Weekend

True confessions: I have never seen Pulp Fiction until tonight. As long as you all have known me, all those times you made some PF reference and I laughed along with you? Yeah, I was pretending. Never knew about "le cheeseburger" or "going medieval on your a**" or "the Wolf" or any of those other touchstones of the movie's popularity. I just pretended to get it because every time I said, "I've actually never seen the movie" I got shouted down: "How can you not have seen Pulp Fiction?! Oh my god! What kind of person has never seen Pulp Fiction?! Where were you when it came out? Out of the country? In a convent?!!" Ad nauseum. Yes, friends, apparently it has been unconscionable for me to have shirked my pop culture responsibilities by not making a point to see this movie. So, as a new member of Netflix, I decided this was the weekend. Bring it on.

But I needed to ease myself into it. I got home last night late from my office holiday party and felt like it was not the time to delve into PF. So I watched Kill Bill Vol 2 instead. I had seen Vol 1 in Vermont back when I was traveling for work and spending my evenings alone in a hotel room. Sad, sad, sad. I know. But I needed entertainment, and since the hotel didn't offer any "adult" fare, I settled for Tarantino instead. Vol 1 was MESSED UP! Which brings us to Vol 2. Much better movie than the first. More story, more background, more action, less stomach-churning gore. Quite enjoyed it. I wasn't sure what to think after having seen Vol 1, but it turned out okay.

Until tonight. I couldn't forestall it anymore. It was time to see Samuel L. Jackson quoting Ezekiel before blowing someone's head off. Time to see Ving Rhames have a bad day with the hillbillies. Time to see Uma in a bad wig. Wow. And what can I say except: Potentially The Most Anti-Climactic Moment of My Life (not including the time in the 80's where my sister and I got excited when my grandmother said that we were related to The Thompson Twins and we immediately had visions of going backstage and meeting their famous friends Boy George and George Michael and The Human League....until she ended the sentence with, "you know the twins: Eddie and Ian." Rock star hopes dashed in a nanosecond. Rock star band replaced by pimply-faced twin Scottish puddings).

But I digress. Back to the anticlimax. Maybe PF was better back in the day? Anyone? I just didn't see tonight why it was considered a tour de force. It was...fine. But no more memorable than, say, Stuart Little or Christmas With The Kranks. Maybe it is the Tarantino reputation? I first saw Reservoir Dogs back in college, where I was astounded at how fantastic a movie could be. The dialogue was snappy and smart, the story was twisted and addictive. I didn't know who Quentin was, but I knew he had talent. Sick, unfortunate, in-need-of-counseling talent, but talent nonetheless. So maybe that's why people love PF? Because they WANT to love PF? I don't know. All I know is that I am dropping that baby back in the mailbox, saying good riddance, and counting the days till The Office: Series One arrives on Wednesday!

1 comment:

Miko said...

I laugh, because just last week I was involved in some mudslinging over at MetaFilter about this very movie - arguing that PF was over-hyped from the moment it came out. I had the same experience when I saw it, only I saw it in '95, in the theatre, and it was underwhelming even then, and could only have been considered 'groundbreaking' by people who don't get out much -- who hadn't seen any other indie/alternative/avant-garde filmmaking. Unfortunately, it became sort of a litmus test of hipness. You HAD to like it. You just had to. But it never was a great movie and was hackneyed right from the start. The hipsters liked to say 'ooh, but see then original thing Tarantino did -- made characters who you sympathize with despite their replusive violence. To which I say: Bonnie and Clyde, 1967. Rafifi, 1955.

PF did, however, have a great soundtrack.

Another movie I was profoundly let down by: The Matrix. I heard for years about what a mind-blowing, life-reorganizing experience it would be to watch this movie. Finally I sat down with it, and found that it was a murky rehash of a basic formula sci-fi plot, easily traced to several Ray Bradbury stories. No new ideas. I suppose people who are not of a naturally philosophical bent, or who never read any Orwell, Huxley, Asimov, or Bradbury might have been encouraged by this movie to question the nature of reality for the first time. But even so - what a yawn of an overblown Star Trek episode.