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. Mia 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: #68 Jackie Brown

jackie brown

Jackie Brown (1997)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Pam Grier, Robert Forster, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Robert De Niro

Synopsis: Stewardess Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) is stopped after a flight by ATF agent Ray Nicolette (Michael Keaton) and is taken in for questioning. While questioning her they find over ten grand and some cocaine and decide to arrest her. What they really want is the man she was bringing this stuff into the country for Ordell Robbie (Samuel L. Jackson) a dangerous arms-dealer. Ordell bails Jackie out of prison using Max Cherry (Robert Forster), a retired cop who is now a bail-bondsman. Jackie sets up a delivery for Ordell asa set up for the Feds to finally catch him. This is part of Jackie’s plan to play the Feds off Ordell and his partner Louis Gara (Robert DeNiro) and walk off with their money. She can’t do this alone so she asks for Max’s help. This all leads to an inevitable confrontation between Jackie, the Feds and Ordell.

Trivia: Quentin Tarantino’s first and only film (as of 2010) to adapt from preexisting material, rather than his own. When Robert De Niro first got a hold of the script he wanted to play the role of Max Cherry. Quentin Tarantino wanted to work with De Niro but had his heart set on Robert Forster as Cherry, so he gave the role of Louis to De Niro.

Why I think you should see this: As I said before Tarantino is my favourite director so practically anything he does is a must see and this is no exception. This movie doesn’t exactly feel like a Tarantino film but that’s because it kind of isn’t as he only wrote the screenplay not the story it was adapted from but its still a great film. Pam Grier is on fire as the titular character and Robert Forster is amazing as her partner in crime Max Cherry. Overall a great film and highly recommended.

Films to See Before You Die: #97 Inglourious Basterds


Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Laurent, Diane Kruger

Synopsis: During World War II Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) is tasked with assembling a group of Jewish soldiers called the “Basterds” so they can invoke some fear in the Nazi’s by scalping and brutally killing Nazi soldiers. In Nazi-occupied France Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent) witnesses the murder of her family at the hands of Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and escapes to Paris. After 3 years of hiding Shosanna runs a theatre in Paris where Hitler will be attending a screening of a new propaganda film. Both Shosanna and the Basterds have a special evening planned for Hitler and his men.

Trivia: Leonardo DiCaprio was the first choice for Col. Hans Landa, but Quentin Tarantino then decided that a German-speaking actor should play the part.

Why I think you should see this: I will always recommend Tarantino films because he is my favourite director. He writes the best dialogue and is able to do it for both men and women. The film has standout performances by each cast member but Christoph Waltz’s Oscar winning  performance as Hans Landa ranks as one of the best characters Tarantino has created.