Pulp Fiction

Kiss Me Deadly

Quentin Tarantino‘s Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential movies ever made, which is interesting given that it’s also one of the most influenced movies ever made. The 1994 feature, which was released theatrically 20 years ago this month, is like the Paul’s Boutique of film given all the cinematic samples it’s comprised of. Tarantino is the uber movie geek, and he shows it over and over again in his own work, and this collaboration with co-writer Roger Avary might take the cake as far as how many allusions he can fit in, whether they’re spoken references or shots that perfectly mimic and repurpose those of his favorite classic films. You can find homages in the plot, dialogue, character names, props, cinematography and more. Because there are so many movies referenced in Pulp Fiction, and because you can find many places online that attempt to list them all, I’m going to recommend just the most prominent and also the most essential of the bunch. Additionally, some of this week’s curation of  movies to see are otherwise relevant, titles that might not have inspired Tarantino unless he cast certain people because of work they’d done in the past — which, for him, is not only plausible but also very likely. Not everything included below is something the filmmaker has admitted to loving and being influenced by, but we can presume they’re all things he’s seen. The guy sees everything. He’d probably come up with a different list of the most important […]

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Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor

With its inspiration coming from both ’70s paranoia thrillers and today’s headlines, there’s a lot of background to cover for Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Basically, the list of movies to watch for this new Marvel sequel could simply be: all post-Watergate conspiracy theory movies from around 40 years ago and all documentaries of the last 10 years dealing with post-9/11 fearmongering and domestic surveillance. But I’m going to be a little more specific with those targets while also highlighting some directly referenced movies, some earlier features starring cast members of The Winter Soldier, a new documentary about one of the supporting players and more. We’ve actually already featured a whole trilogy that compliments the plot of the Captain America sequel, which you can read about over on our sister site, Nonfics. Unlike that post, this one is hopefully pretty light on spoilers. However, I like to give the warning with these lists that it’s best to actually see the movie in focus before reading ahead. 

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Andy

Movies and TV shows are fun to think about and discuss. Clearly. But as much as this is the case, there’s still a point past which we’re not talking about the movie or show in any meaningful way. One thing that becomes clear after doing any kind of serious critical work for any significant period of time is that, just because something’s there doesn’t necessarily give it meaning. True Detective is a great example: the best part about all those great McConaughey four-bong-hit college philosophy student monologues about nihilism is that they don’t mean anything with regards to the big picture. (Even with two episodes remaining, consider that an ironclad guarantee.) And sometimes people apply the same four-bong-hit college philosophy student mindsets to the movies and TV shows themselves. They lead Andy’s Mom to have a deeper identity, or for entire stories to shuffle off their context, so it’s always nice to have a reminder of what these theories really are. Here are some of the most beside-the-point “mind-blowing” theories about films and TV.

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Speed Racer

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Pulp Fiction

An open thread where you can share what you’ve recently watched, offer suggestions on movies and TV shows we should check out (or warnings about stuff to avoid), and discover queue-filling goodies from other FSR readers.

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goodfellas scenes

Is anyone else surprised that Gangster Squad isn’t a comedy? First of all, the word ‘squad’ in the title reminds us of goofy material like Police Squad and The Monster Squad. Then there’s the fact director Ruben Fleischer‘s last two movies were darkly humorous. But his new feature is indeed a crime drama, based on true events and apparently serious and very violent. At least one review calls it “silly,” but that’s a negative criticism and surely not the intended tone of the filmmakers. Of course, a gangster drama can still have some humorous moments (see below), but even if there are any lighter scenes in Gangster Squad we may still be disappointed that Fleischer hasn’t done for the crime genre what he previously did with zombie horror. It’s been a while since we had a good, funny gangster movie in America — by which we mean not imported from foreign filmmakers like Guy Ritchie and Martin McDonagh. Not that we want Hollywood to try anymore spoofs like Jane Austen’s Mafia. So, given that a list of straight gangster scenes we love would be too long anyway, this week’s list of clips is narrowed down to funny moments, to make up for the presumed total lack of comedy in Gangster Squad. Watch these five scenes after the break.

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Django

Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for Django Unchained (and all of Tarantino’s other films). With Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino has taken a decisive shift in his approach to storytelling. Abandoning the non-linear, present-set depictions of an organized criminal underworld in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and the Kill Bill films, Tarantino has not only transitioned to more conventional linear storytelling (with the exception of the requisite flashback), but chooses familiar historical contexts in which to tell these stories. With the WWII-set Inglourious Basterds and now with the pre-Civil War-era Western Django, Tarantino has made a habit of mixing the historical with the inventively anachronistic, and has turned recent modern histories of racial and ethnic oppression, dehumanization, and extermination into ostensibly cathartic fantasies of revenge against vast systemic structures of power.

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Quentin Tarantino

Emerging from a nitrate fire in 1963, Quentin Tarantino was fed only exploitation films, spaghetti Westerns and actual spaghetti until he was old enough to thirst for blood. He found his way into the film industry as a PA on a Dolph Lundgren workout video, as a store clerk at Video Archives and by getting encouragement to write a screenplay by the very man who would make a name for himself producing Tarantino’s films. Peter Bogdanovich (and probably many others) think of him as the most influential director of his generation, and he’s got the legendary story to back it up — not to mention line-busting movies like Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained under his belt. He’s also the kind of name that makes introductions like this useless. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a guy who really loves Hi Diddle Diddle and plans to keep 35mm alive as long as he’s rich enough to do it.

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Holiday Gifts for Movie Lovers

We may be midway through December, but it’s not too late to be thinking about what to get for those movie lovers close to your heart. Speaking from personal experience, it’s oftentimes hard to surprise your movie lover with something, as they likely have every DVD you can think to get them, and what interests are more interesting than movies, anyway? Fear not – I’ve got a few week’s worth of good ideas that will delight even the biggest movie nerd with a variety of gifts that reach beyond the $5 DVD section at Target. Today, in a special edition, the idea is gifts inspired by your friends’ favorite movie characters. Either they’ll delight in the fact that these gifts remind them of their favorite films, or perhaps they resemble these characters in certain ways that would make these gifts a naturally good fit. Of course, self-gifting is never discouraged….

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Pulp Fiction

A prominent theater owner once told me a story about two production assistants hustling it out for little pay on a Dolph Lundgren workout video. Part of the video involved Lundgren running down a sandy hill, so when they needed to do more takes, the PAs had to smooth out the footprints in the sand (of which, yes, there was only one set). The two PAs threw themselves into the task with such gusto that the director was awe-struck. They rolled on their sides down the hill, happily did any other task necessary and even grabbed a dog turd bare-handed to get it out of a shot on a sidewalk. The director talked about them to everyone, claiming they were the best PAs he’d ever seen in his career. One of them was apparently Quentin Tarantino. It’s a bit of a myth that he learned about movies exclusively by working at a video store, and even if this story isn’t true, it’s fun to believe it — if only to imagine Tarantino furiously doing menial tasks and ripping dog shit off the ground without question. However, Movies.com has a relic of his early career with a big more proof to it: an excellent video where Richard Gladstein recounts Harvey Weinstein‘s reaction to reading the script for Pulp Fiction for the first time.

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FSR is usually steeped in high-mindedness and moral fiber, but there’s no reason not to highlight something as cool as LEGO versions of iconic movies scenes. Consider it a Friday distraction tucked between a review of the latest Todd Solondz movie and (spoiler alert) breaking news about a possible new Jackass movie. Somehow it makes complete sense. Especially because these images are undeniable. The fine folks at BostInno discovered this internet wonder – a series of sharply photographed movies scenes (from Hitchcock to Tarantino) done with LEGO figures. There’s a LEGO movie in the works, there are movie scenes done in LEGO and the snake of culture continues to eat its tail. Check out the images for yourself:

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Alec Baldwin: Coffee is for Closers

Monologues are to actors what analogies are to bullshit writers who have no idea how to start their list article about monologues. What I mean is that every actor should have a really good understanding on how to perform a monologue – at least I assume so considering that they are the most common tools for auditioning for a part. To someone like myself, who couldn’t act even if Hitler’s death depended on it, I really have no idea what goes into a monologue – however I do know what comes out of a good one. So when I judge the talent of these I’m really just judging how effective they seemed to be, not necessarily the amount of artistic effort that was put into it. Simply put, these are some terrific monologues.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

I break Quentin Tarantino’s career up into two stages. The first stage consists of his first three films, which are all crime movies, are all set in L.A., and which all just feel very much like “Quentin Tarantino movies” (a genre unto itself back in the 90s, if you lump in all the pretenders). After those first three films, he took a pretty lengthy six year break, and then he came back and started exploring other genres, making movies that were largely homages to the B-cinema he enjoyed in his youth. While there’s a soft spot in my heart for most of Inglorious Basterds, in general I prefer that first stage of Tarantino’s career to what came after. And as far as that first trilogy of crime films goes, I think most people are in agreement that Pulp Fiction is the masterpiece. It was the one that broke down the doors of the movie industry and ushered indie filmmaking into the mainstream, and it’s the one most often referenced when people talk about his career; so I’m not going to focus on that one here. I’m going to focus instead on Tarantino’s debut feature Reservoir Dogs, which was the film that first got heads turned in his direction, and which still gets mentioned right alongside Pulp Fiction as badass things from the 90s. And also I’m going to focus on Jackie Brown, which is kind of the forgotten Tarantino film. This is one that doesn’t get brought up much these […]

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“Hey Quentin, come sign this and we’ll give you some money.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s probably how it all went down. Upon inspection, it’s hard to miss the “Director Approved” sticker on the outside of the Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown Blu-ray releases. Signed, sealed and kissed with love by director Quentin Tarantino. It’s a slick piece of marketing by the folks at Miramax, who have released these through Lionsgate, to convince you that there’s something special about these releases. As if they were meticulously transferred to high definition in a dark room by the mad cinematic scientist who dreamed them up in the first place. I find that part hard to believe. In fact, it’s hard to believe that there’s much in these that wasn’t more than passed over by Tarantino. Does that make them a bad batch of Blu releases? Not exactly. There’s still plenty of love in owning Pulp and Jackie on a higher format, but that doesn’t exactly make them quite as special as that ‘Director Approved’ sticker suggests.

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Criterion Files

When I write this column, I typically don’t get the opportunity to write about movies from my teen years. I, like many, came into a cinephilic love for art and foreign cinema during college, and in that process grew to appreciate The Criterion Collection. Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused (1993), however, is a movie that’s followed me through various changes in my life for (I’m just now realizing as I write this) about half of my time thus far spent on Earth.

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What is Movie News After Dark? This is a question that I am almost never asked, but I will answer it for you anyway. Movie News After Dark is FSR’s newest late-night secretion, a column dedicated to all of the news stories that slip past our daytime editorial staff and make it into my curiously chubby RSS ‘flagged’ box. It will (but is not guaranteed to) include relevant movie news, links to insightful commentary and other film-related shenanigans. I may also throw in a link to something TV-related here or there. It will also serve as my place of record for being both charming and sharp-witted, but most likely I will be neither of the two. I write this stuff late at night, what do you expect?

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Culture Warrior

One odd thing about being a child of the 80s is that you learn movie history backwards. In watching anything from Animaniacs to Pulp Fiction, I became acquainted with references and homages to classical Hollywood cinema long before I ever watched the movies referenced or the moments paid homage to. Thus, my knowledge of cinema’s past was framed through cinema’s present: I learned about old movies because of what new movies did with them. One of the most formidable moments of this backwards cinematic education occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s when major event kids’ movies became especially preoccupied with 40s film noir in movies like Robert Zemeckis’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988) or Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy (1990). These movies embodied a world of double crosses, femme fatales, and cynical detectives without requiring their viewers, young or old, to have seen any of the films these genre tropes are indebted to. Thus, because of my exposure to new tweaks on an old form, conventions became familiar to me long before I could name the films from which such conventions originated. But one movie was exceptionally influential in formulating a distinct impression of film noir in my childhood imagination, and that movie was – oddly enough – Home Alone (1990).

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, the editor of The New Ledger and podcast host of Coffee and Markets Ben Domenech brings his velvety voice to the show to suggest that John Lithgow play a werewolf-hunting FDR, question the Spider-Man casting, and create a list of movie characters that should run for office (we’d totally vote for Judy Dench’s M). Plus, we find time to review Megamind, Due Date, and implore you to see Four Lions. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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Culture Warrior

I know no cinephile whose taste in movies survives completely the decades of aging and growing as a filmgoer. I have little doubt that others like myself look back at films they loved ten or more years ago with different eyes, either with a more informed context, renewed appreciation, or even developing befuddled questions as to why they felt such affection for these films in the first place. I recently found an interesting connection and disparate paths of meaning-making with regard to two films that originally inspired my love and appreciation for cinema, and it is in the respective ways in which these films use ambiguous objects.

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Boiling Point: Pulp Fiction

Robert Fure once again proves he’s angry and full of dirty, dirty words, though surprisingly he manages to be rather civil for 96% of this rant against censorship.

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