October 12, 2011

Mmm-mmmm. Pulp Fiction is one tasty Blu-ray
Movie Rating: 9/10  BD Rating: 8/10

Is it wrong to assume that pop culture would be vastly different without Pulp Fiction? Scores of wannabe-Mia Wallaces left without Halloween costumes; fewer internet memes; Samuel L. Jackson significantly less quotable? Despite the criticism Quentin Tarantino has faced for building his movies out of recycled tropes, there’s something groundbreaking about this 1994 cult hit.

It has come to be expected for the director to use unconventional form and structure to keep viewers on their toes, but Pulp Fiction’s fragmented narrative flaunted a loose, casual sense of humor that set a new precedent for like-minded crime films to follow. Only after watching a fair share of sub-par action movies with canned dialogue does one appreciate the simple pleasure of watching Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta bicker about McDonalds and foot massages before killing a bunch of dudes.  

Tarantino has mastered the art of expertly mixing and matching borrowed visuals to create a perfect simulacrum: a film that feels completely original, and yet you’ve seen it myriad times before. The newly-released Blu-ray is as crystal clear as it should be—that is to say, it retains some of its deliberate vintage look. But it deserves more praise for bringing the film’s vivid colors to life, particularly in the retro-themed diner Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Those who may doubt the quality of this high-def upgrade should rest assured knowing that the director supervised the transfer himself (the package comes with a little autographed sticker of director-approved authenticity, à la Criterion).

In addition to the hours of extras already included on previous home video incarnations, fans will enjoy two new featurettes. The first, titled “Not the Usual Mindless, Boring, Getting to Know You Chit Chat,” is a set of interviews with Travolta, Jackson, et al. (notably missing: Uma Thurman and Tarantino). The second, “Here Are Some Facts on the Fiction,” is a round table discussion with several prominent critics, including Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog) and Stephanie Zacharek (Salon). “Chit Chat” is undoubtedly more interesting, as Travolta offers up new insights on casting (he chose Vincent Vega over a part in From Dusk Till Dawn, because vampires aren’t his “thing”) and some of the earliest reactions to the film at Cannes. —Jackie McClelland