Films to See Before You Die: #2 Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, Harvey Keitel and Bruce Willis

Synopsis: Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are hit men in the employ of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) and have come to retrieve a valuable belonging of Wallace’s from a group of would-be crooks. Marsellus is leaving town that evening and Vincent is to take Marsellus’s wife, Mia (Uma Thurman), out for dinner to keep her entertained. Rumors abound that Marsellus gravely wounded another associate who he believed had been improperly friendly with Mia, so Vincent is nervous. Before picking Mia up, he visits his drug dealer and buys some high-quality heroin. Mia enters herself and Vincent in a dance contest. They dance the twist and win an award. After dinner, they return to the Wallaces’ home. Vincent goes to the bathroom to talk himself out of making a pass at Mia. Meanwhile, she discovers the baggie of heroin in his coat pocket and, assuming it’s cocaine, snorts some. She immediately passes out and begins to foam at the mouth. Panicked, Vincent takes the dying Mia to Lance’s where they argue about what to do with her. Following Lance’s advice, Vincent is able to revive her with a shot of adrenaline administered straight to the heart. Vincent takes Mia home. They agree not to tell Marsellus what happened since both of them would get in trouble. Marsellus Wallace pays boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) to throw his next fight. Instead of throwing the match, he fights so viciously that he kills his opponent. He took Marsellus’ money and bet it on himself; his winnings will amount to a small fortune. While packing the next morning, however, Fabienne reveals that she forgot the gold watch, the belonging Butch cherishes above all others. After a savage outburst in which he wrecks the motel room, Butch takes Fabienne’s car to get the watch, parking a few blocks away and walking across a field to his apartment as a precaution. He enters without incident and finds his wristwatch in the bedroom. He realizes he’s not alone in the apartment when he notices a gun in the kitchen. Catching Vincent off guard as he emerges from the bathroom, Butch kills him with his own gun. Leaving the apartment with his watch, Butch encounters Marsellus crossing the street. He tries to run Marsellus over with his car but only wounds him and is hit by another car himself. Marsellus chases Butch into a pawn shop. There, the owner Maynard overpowers them. Marsellus and Butch wake up in the basement of the pawn shop, bound and gagged. Three days earlier, flashing back in time to just after Vincent and Jules finish killing Brett for stealing Marsellus’ prized possession, a gang member they had not known about bursts out of the bathroom and empties his gun point blank at them. However, all of the bullets miss Vincent and Jules, hitting the wall behind them, so they kill the gang member. Jules is certain this is a miracle but Vincent dismisses the idea. They leave with Marvin, Marsellus’ inside man in the gang. In the car, Vincent asks Marvin if he believes in miracles, but accidentally shoots him in the head and kills him. The inside of the car is now covered in blood and brain matter. Jules drives to the house of his only friend in the Valley, a former colleague named Jimmie. Jimmie lets them hide the car but angrily tells them that they have to get rid of the body within an hour — before his wife Bonnie comes home from her night shift at a hospital. Jules calls Marsellus at his home to explain their predicament. Marsellus then calls Winston Wolf (Harvey Keitel), a suave and professional criminal and gambler who solves problems. Wolf arrives at Jimmie’s house and tells Vincent and Jules how to clean up the car and themselves — they have to strip out of their business suits and wear Jimmie’s spare T-shirts and shorts. The Wolf then helps them dispose of the car and body at a junkyard belonging to a discreet friend named Monster Joe.

Trivia: Daniel Day-Lewis wanted the role of Vincent Vega, but Quentin Tarantino turned him down in favor of John Travolta.┬áMia Wallace’s comment “An Elvis man should love this” is a reference to an earlier cut scene where Mia claims that everyone can be classified as either an “Elvis” (Elvis Presley) person or a “Beatles” (The Beatles) person. She bets Vincent that he is an “Elvis”, and he confirms it. It is widely believed that Butch is responsible for keying Vincent’s car.

Why I think you should see this: I am a huge Tarantino fan and there is no contest Pulp Fiction is his crowning achievement and in my opinion is the best movie of 1994. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are electric as the two hitmen but I have to say my favourite story is the gold watch because of how odd the whole scene is and appropriately followed by the Twilight Zone theme. I love this movie because it defies the classic linear structure set out by almost every film before it and the film actually makes the viewer connect the dots and try and figure what happens first. This is one of the best movies ever made so if you haven’t seen it rent it asap.

Films to See before You Die: #15 Die Hard


Die Hard (1988)

Director: John McTiernan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonny Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson

Synopsis: New York cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is visiting his family in Los Angeles for the Christmas holidays. He is unexpectedly met at the airport by a limo driver who has been hired to take him to his wifes workplace the Nakatomi Plaza for the company Christmas party. His arrival is a surprise to his wife Holly (Bonny Bedelia), who had taken this prestigious job is L.A., leaving John in New York.They begin fight about their current living condition when Holly is asked to make a speech to her co-workers. At this moment terrorists have begun to take over the Nakatomi Plaza starting with subduing the security team and then crashing the party on the 30th floor. John is still waiting for Holly to return when he hears the gun fire not being able to grab his shoes he makes for the stair well and goes up to the 32nd floor where he tries to set off the fire alarm. Aware that they have company the terrorist leader Hans (Alan Rickman), sends a man up to investigate. McClane and the man fight with McClane killing him giving him another gun, he uses the body to send a message to Hans and also get an idea of who he is up against. While trying to get the police’s attention again McClane is shot at on the roof of the building so they send the closest squad car to the building to check it out. While checking the place out Sgt. Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), deems there to be nothing wrong. McClane impatient with the lack of cooperation throws the body of another terrorist of Powell’s car getting his full attention. Now that they have the police’s attention the situation turns into a media circus leaving McClane alone to fight the terrorists and save his wife.

Trivia: Director John McTiernan found it necessary to smash cut away from Hans Gruber’s face whenever he fired a gun, because of Alan Rickman’s uncontrollable habit of flinching from the noise and muzzle flash. If you look at Rickman’s face when he shoots Takagi, you can see him wincing. Bruce Willis was the sixth choice for the main character. It originally went to Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Sylvester Stallone, then Burt Reynolds, then Richard Gere, then Harrison Ford, then Mel Gibson before Willis got it.

Why I think you should see this: John McTiernan made quite the name for himself in the late ’80s early ’90s as one of the best action directors out there. With Die Hard and Predator arguably being the best action movies of the decade and then following them up with the incredible Hunt for Red October. That being said this movie would not have succeeded with out the awesome performance by Bruce Willis who is perfect as McClane. I often look at other actors considered for roles and say that another choice of actor would be interesting but I have never questioned the casting of Bruce Willis as John McClane because anyone else playing the part wouldn’t be able to add the heart that Willis does to the character. I am a huge Die Hard fan and recommend you check out all four films and if you know the series well you are just as excited as I am for the fifth installment A Good Day to Die Hard. Even though the names keep getting worse the movies stay at a pretty high quality which is rare for a quadrilogy to stay up to par so long. This is one of my favourites so check it out sometime or watch it for the umpteenth time for old times sake.

Films to See Before You Die: #37 Twelve Monkeys

12 monkeys

Twelve Monkeys (1995)

Director: Terry Gilliam

Cast: Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Madeleine Stowe, Christopher Plummer

Synopsis: An unknown and lethal virus has wiped out five billion people in 1996. Only 1% of the population has survived by the year 2035, and is forced to live underground. Prisoner James Cole (Bruce Willis) is chosen for a voluntary assignment that will send him back in time to find a cure for the virus. He is mistakenly sent back to 1990 where he is committed to a mental asylum where he meets Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), the insane son of a famous scientist and virus expert. He also meets Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe), who is his attending psychiatrist. Cole is brought back to the future where he informs his superiors that they sent him to the wrong time when Cole realizes that Jeffrey Goines is the cause of the virus, they give him one last chance to complete his mission. This time they send him back to 1996 where he kidnaps Dr. Railly after a public seminar she hosts. Cole tracks down Jeffrey who now works for his father Dr. Goines (Christopher Plummer), it is revealed to Cole that he gave Jeffrey the idea to release the virus. When he realizes that Jeffrey may not be the cause he must now race against time to stop the real culprit from committing the perfect crime.

Trivia: Terry Gilliam was afraid that Brad Pitt wouldn’t be able to pull off the nervous, rapid speech. He sent him to a speech coach but in the end he just took away Pitt’s cigarettes, and Pitt played the part exactly as Gilliam wanted. Terry Gilliam’s first choice for the lead role was Jeff Bridges, whom he had enjoyed working with on The Fisher King, but the studio wanted a bigger star, so he cast Bruce Willis. Ironically, Willis had originally auditioned for “The Fisher King”, but lost out to Bridges.

Why I think you should see this: I had always liked Bruce Willis but after seeing this he has since become one of my favourite actors, he has been in so many good films. This movie also introduced me to the warped mind of Terry Gilliam whose style I personally love but can understand why some may find it too weird. If you enjoy this film then I suggest checking out Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which are both great Gilliam films Twelve Monkeys is my absolute favourite of his work. Check this one out you won’t be disappointed.