The Pile Of Shame: Pulp Fiction – A Tarantino Masterclass

Welcome to the Pile of Shame. Throughout my years of ceaseless debauchery and frankly worrying video game addiction, I missed out on movies that many consider classics. If you’ve ever asked someone if they watched a certain movie and gasped when they said they never did, you know what type of guy I am. I figured that it’s pretty silly that someone like me who lacks the appropriate historical movie education is allowed to write on such an esteemed movie website as ours, and have since created a pile of classic movies that I will work through in order to achieve true enlightenment. This series will be my chronicle through it and you’re more than welcome to tag along.

When I think of some of the biggest movies that I have missed out on, the first one to instantly spring into my head is Quintin Tarantino’s classic, Pulp Fiction. I’m a massive fan of Tarantino’s work and I’ve previously written a long piece explaining why I consider him one of the truest visionaries in modern cinema. To be such a fan of his efforts while not seeing the overwhelmingly lauded Pulp Fiction felt like some sort of crime, so I figured this was the perfect film to start this pile off. After watching it, I can honestly say that all the praise that I’ve vaguely heard throughout the years has not been in vain.

Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece in the sense that it is not trying to be a masterpiece at all. It’s a witty telling of multiple stories that interweave and interact with each other throughout this crime-filled world of assholes and smashing dames. It’s silly in many ways, but it knows full well that it is and it does everything with the utmost intent that you can pen numerous deep looks into everything, which by this point, has probably happened. Even just the music selection has immense meaning. If you listen very carefully to the lyrics within some of the songs that play in the background, they have some sort of correlation with the events that are happening.

Throughout my life, I’ve heard so many quotes from this movie that while I was watching it, it felt like a giant puzzle being completed in my head. The classic first encounter with Jules and Vincent was full of the often quoted lines in particular, with such classics as “does he look like a bitch?” and “English motherfucker, do you speak it?” finally receiving some context in my head after seeing them appear on t-shirts and coffee coasters all my life.

Tarantino’s hallmarks that I’ve come to know and love throughout my life are on full display. The immaculately slow build-ups, the bloody conclusions, the ridiculous scenarios like the scene in the basement and just general avant-garde stuff. This wasn’t the genesis of Quintin Tarantino, but it was most definitely the start of his reign. It is so difficult to get black comedy just right and Tarantino managed it beautifully with Pulp Fiction to the point where I don’t think we’ll see something of its calibre again anytime soon.

The characters are some of the most unique entities you’ll ever see. The dynamic between Vincent and Jules is a joy to witness and their constant rejoinders were a highlight of the entire movie. The stalwart Butch with his whole backstory and the especially funny monologue by Christopher Walken. Even the cab driver that drove Butch away was fascinating. Mr. Wolf feels like a force to be reckoned with and Jimmy, who is Tarantino himself, is a funny anaemic character who contrasts the serious characters. Let’s not forget the terrifying Marcellus Wallace either. Every single character can have a full character study done on them with no problems at all. I’m keeping these features relatively short, but if I had to do a full analysis of the characters alone, we would have been here all day.

To say I loved Pulp Fiction would be an understatement as there are so many facets that make it the classic that it is today. The movie may seem strange to a modern contemporary audience, but it transcends time with its clever wit and sharp delivery. It was also so weird to see now famous actors in their relative infancy appearing in the movie.

This will probably be a theme among my pile of shame entries; endless gushing and awe-ing at the masterful nature of some these movies because they’re considered classics, but that’s kind of the point. I want to watch movies that shape people’s lives and become instilled into the collective consciousness for decades to come. Pulp Fiction is one of those movies and I’m so glad I saw it at long last.

Return next time for something a little more sinister. I’ll be looking at the classicly misspelt Se7en in our next instalment of the Pile of Shame.

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Thabo is an English poet, playwright, and genius, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called South Africa's national poet, and the “Prince of Underpaid Writing”.
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Thabo is an English poet, playwright, and genius, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called South Africa’s national poet, and the “Prince of Underpaid Writing”.

  • Nick de Bruyne

    Awesome! I can’t tell you how much I love this movie, I have a full collector’s edition set that someone got me for my birthday and it’s full of so many extra and features and really, the film is the work of a genius who is more of a film fan than we will ever be, a complete geek even. Also, some other strokes of genius, like completely re-energising John Travolta’s career after he was all but gone, but Tarantino was adamant about him because he was a big fan. I watched this film maybe 15-20 times in the time when it came out and then I tend to watch it every few years again, and I honestly think it only gets better. Not only that, but because of its brilliant dialogue, its focus on characters and its weird 70s vibe (despite being set in present day 90s), its pretty damn timeless too.

    What a movie. And Se7en is next? Oh boy.