who had stood by Reservoir Dogs when the moral flak flew thickest - sounded a note of cauuon.

PULP FICTION SHOULD, however, be applauded for its cinematic boldness. The film has three main segments, each of which draws on well-thumbed story elements from the type of ‘pulp’ crime magazines popular in the 30s and 405 a gangster is told to babysit his boss’s moll; a down-and-out boxer refuses to throw a fight; a couple of hitmen call on a double— crosser. Tarantino. however. pushes each story beyond its genre’s demands. taking his characters through the action and out into wise- cracking day-to-day life. Just as Reservoir Dogs used a non-linear, before-and-after structure to make the most ofthe tension inherent in its heist plot. so too does Pulp Fiction chop around in time and place. This is no straight forward anthology movie: certain characters can be centre—stage in one section. supporting players in another. while individual stories. complete in themselves. cast new light on who or what follows and precedes.

‘It has an end. but the end is that it goes back to the beginning and you realise you‘ve made a complete circle.’ says Tarantino of his latest work. ‘A circle doesn’t have an end. but it doesn’t continue either: it just keeps going around and around. Novelists quite often write a book and decide not to do a sequel. but to extend those characters in another novel. One of the things that I did specifically when I made Pulp Fiction was I took the rights to the characters. so. if it strikes me. I can keep following them in another movie. I pretty much know what I’m going to do as far as the structure is concerned even before I start writing the script. but I’m completely open with the

Uma Thurman: “I'll have the Durwood Klrby burger - bloody - and a live-dollar shake."

broken. Despite its title. Pulp Fiction is no throwaway low-brow fodder. just as the Tarantino-scripted True Romance used its title to shed irony on one ofthe tnost screwy and violent

screen love affairs of the decade. Expectations are also shattered by the casting. ln amongst a stand-out ensemble including Uma Thurman. Harvey Keitel.

writing for it to go any way. But because an idea is cool isn’t enough to do it. It’s got to work and actually help the movie dramatically. otherwise it’s just jerking off.’

Many will contend that Tarantino the director is indeed applying that self-indulgent helping hand to Tarantino the

‘Saying that you don’t like violence in movies is like saying you don’t like comedy in movies or you don’t like dance sequences in movies; violence is just one of many things you can do’

Samuel L. Jackson. ChristOpher Walken and Tim Roth are the surprising additions of John Travolta and Bruce Willis. The international superstar credentials of Willis don’t prepare us for his never-better turn as the slow-witted. lovey- dovey boxer. Butch. while the

writer. But Pulp Fiction proves

that the man is a master of the set—piece. and such mastery can only be attained by experimentation. Characters. ideas and situations are pushed to their traditional limits and beyond: sometimes this pays off. sometimes it falls but rarely fiat on its face. The film is ambitious - often a dirty word in film criticism and that is what creates a buzz of audience excitement as we are entertained by the very fact that genres are set up. only to have their rules

decision to cast Travolta as hitman Vincent Vega

approaches genius. With ratty hair and paunchy checks that accentuate that trademark dimple. 'l‘ravolta is a gone-to-seed first cousin of his Oscar—nominated Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever. He even takes to the dancefloor again. allowing us to forgive him for the Look Who 's Talking trio.

‘When you put actors in a film. the number one thing whether they have an image or not is to do their best job and be as believable as

these characters can be.’ notes 'l‘arantino. a man who. in conversation. has two controls fast forward and stop. ‘Having said that. there’s also the thing of an actor bringing baggage to a role; that can either work for or against the film. Howard Hawks once said to do a Western and not cast John Wayne was a foolhardy enterprise. and when you see Rio Bravo. and John Wayne walks into the movie. you don‘t need any backstory. You’ve seen all the backstory. you’ve seen all the other films. He’s John Fucking Wayne. all right? When I wrote the character of Vincent. I didn’t know John was going to play the part . . . however. the fact that John Travolta is going to end up doing the dance sequence will not go without notice. You‘re able to take his persona and give it a tweak.’

THE IDEA OF having fun is essential to Tarantino movies it‘s what makes the violence palatable. Humour has a more upfront role to play in Pulp Fiction. a factor that may have influenced censors on both sides of the Atlantic when it came to passing the movie without cuts. ‘1 don’t have a problem with the MPAA [the US ratings board].’ he admits. “They‘re actually in a very tough position because they have two completely opposing forces of responsibility that they’ve got to deal with —— the concerns of

amateurs. Jules

miraculously dodges a hail of bullets from point blank range and is convinced it‘s a sign from God. Can he give up his gangster life'.’

Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) A struggling. slow- witted prizefighter who‘s told by Marcellus to go down in the fifth. Butch bets on himself then heads for the airport with his girlfriend. It's only when he \ doubles back to pick up his ,9

{ Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros) Butch‘s French girlfriend. she‘s the soft spot in his hard-man image but. by leaving his watch behind. she‘s botched their getaway plans.

P Jlmmle (Quentin Tarantino) A highly strung

treasured gold watch that he bumps into Marcellus and a couple oftwisted southemer pawn-shop perverts.

$1 Q-wo ‘7

The List 21 October-3 November l994 7