Spoiler Warning

Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pulp Fiction

What About It?
(for a full summary, go down the page to What Happens?)

Quentin Tarantino was working in movies well before Pulp Fiction and certainly some people noticed Reservoir Dogs, and his contributions to True Romance and Natural Born Killers, but Pulp Fiction was the start of Tarantino as a major force. You could see Tarantino in all of the previous films, whether the absurdly over the top pop culture referencing dialogue, the stylized criminal element, the element of casual violence, and people bound by their own unspoken codes, but Pulp Fiction is where he was able to put all these pieces together exactly how they should be. Filmed out of chronological order, it's a film that feels like several films locked together. With the amazing abundance of talent and smart writing here, even the smallest character seems significant, as nothing is in this film that doesn't add to the flavor he's going for. It isn't difficult to look at all the crime films in the time following Pulp Fiction to see what a profound and immediate impact it had. For some time it seemed like everything coming out was tipping it's hat to Pulp Fiction, although not a lot of those films remained memorable, as stylization isn't everything. What Tarantino got that a lot of his imitators missed was that all the style in the world is no substitute for unique and interesting characters.

Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) are the two characters most associated with the film. Their occupation and their suits could have come out of Reservoir Dogs, (Vincent's brother, Vic Vega is even a character in that film) and that's good because it works. We don't picture hit men having discussions over theology and the significance of a foot massage, but Travolta and Jackson sell it very well. It makes sense that guys whose job consists mostly of waiting would spend a good deal of time talking. Their dialogue also makes them far more engaging than say, characters who look silently across the street. They're hit men, but they're sociable ones, not inhuman monsters. They're as entertained by gossip as anyone, as Mia points out. Most of us have probably had similar conversations. Watching them head to an appointment making small talk like it's just another day at work, we relate to them. There are little reminders that their work is a serious kind, such as checking the trunk and wishing for shotguns, but even when they're about to kill someone, Jules sees no reason not to discuss cheeseburgers.

Their habitual disagreements are also fun to watch and telling about their characters. When they're miraculously spared from death, Jules is all too ready to see "divine intervention" while Vincent can't even entertain such an idea. They've both seen all kinds of situations, and at the very least, a close brush with death, could be cause to reevaluate what you're doing, particularly when it's an inevitable part of your line of work. Jules sees that and his bags are practically packed. Vincent though, has no intention of doing anything else.  It's interesting that while most of the characters here are given different settings, we don't see Jules without Vincent's presence. Vincent is the perfect symbol for the lifestyle Jules wants to leave. We can also figure that this isn't a new idea, he is insistent that Marsellus' supposed action of throwing a man of a balcony over a foot massage, is excessive. Vincent's defense of the action is telling about him, he's simply justifying why he stays. Jules is a character who is building up his own justifications to cut strings and do something else. It's very clear though, that Jules, doesn't know much of any other occupation, but his idea of "walking the Earth" is perhaps as sensible as being a hit man anyway. And again, Vincent seeing his decision as "deciding to be a bum." tells us everything about Vincent. He sees himself as a guy who is working for a living and can't understand what Jules is planning at all. It's a great touch that Jules' catch phrase is a key in his finally understanding how to turn a corner. It also reveals much about Jules that the "scripture" he's memorized is largely made up. As he says he would quote it because "I just thought it was some cold blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass." He also went to the trouble to get a wallet that reads "Bad Motherfucker." These details are all part of Jules sense of place in the world. Perhaps he is a "bad motherfucker." but that isn't very relevant, when he's also somebody that should be dead.

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee."

In analyzing his own favorite phrase, Jules basically tells his whole journey,  "See, now I'm thinkin' maybe it means you're the evil man and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 Millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or, it could mean, you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. Now, I'd like that, but that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak and I am the tyranny of evil men, but I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd." Up until the miracle, despite the fact that he killed people for money, Jules imagined he was "righteous." In that light, it makes sense that he would have a problem with Marsellus being "excessive." Jules opinion of what "righteousness is, however, is entirely his own. He's lived to long in a world of different than normal morality to just be a normal citizen, thus his plan to "walk the earth."

Vincent is the other side, firmly entrenched in what he does. Like anyone in the film however, he does have a code he follows. His code isn't tested by Jules, but by Mia. Although he has every intention of doing what Marsellus asked of him, we see when he and Mia return from Jackrabbit Slim's that it isn't as easy as he would like it to be. Mia is certainly off limits, yet he can't help but be drawn to her. She pays attention to things and treats him with respect, even though, he has been ordered to show her a good time. She isn't afraid to broach delicate subjects either, and when she asks Vincent "Isn't it more exciting when you don't have permission?" we can't blame him for finding that an interesting statement. Vincent does manage to follow the rules, and save Mia's life, but clearly it isn't about the letter of the law as we see when he asks Mia to keep the overdose a secret from Marsellus. His loyalty clearly has some limitations. He feels that a foot massage would cross those boundaries, but keeping Marsellus wife's near death a secret, even though strictly speaking he had done nothing wrong, does not. On his date with Mia, we see that Vincent is interested in all sorts of things, and although he doesn't watch TV, he knows the difference between Marilyn Monroe and Mamie Van Doren. Despite the difficulty in maintaining loyalty, it's gratifying to see Vincent and Mia form a deep relationship, due to the worst possible circumstances. We see that Vincent is as human as Jules is, he's just determined to earn his living this way.

Vincent is insistent about respect, but he has no desire to be in charge. He's quite happy to be back up for Jules, and we see when he is sent alone to look for Butch that he isn't as careful as he should be. They were "lucky" he tells Jules when they cheat death, so he is "unlucky" when Butch kills him, but it likely has more to do with the gun he left on the counter, and the fact that he insisted on having a stare down with Butch earlier. It's no wonder that this role revived Travolta's career. He's entertaining every moment he's on the screen, and plays "the Elvis man" perfectly.

Ving Rhames' Marsellus Wallace is really the character that connects them all. He's the boss and the guy that people will believe throws a man over a balcony over a foot massage. Clearly he thinks nothing of having people beaten or killed, as Jules' and Vincent's careers depend on it. Yet here, we get to see Wallace as not just the boss, but a guy like anyone else. He underestimates Butch and pays for it, and then as luck would have it, is severely abused by Maynard and Zed. For his own reasons, Butch rescues him, and we see that despite his brutality, he has his own code somewhere. He lets Butch go free, although he has a shotgun in his hand and could easily take him out with it. He owes Butch his life possibly and certainly some dignity. Even so, he has to place conditions on them being "even." What Butch did for him has a concrete value. It's worth erasing their disagreement, but not if he tells anyone about it, or if he comes back to L.A. People have said that it's what someone does when no one is watching that tells the most about them, and in this case it reveals Marsellus' own sense of loyalty. He's a crime boss but a very particular one. We also notice that Jules has no fear of telling Marsellus he's retiring. Vincent suggests that he'll laugh if Jules tells him why. This is a guy that inspires fear, but also trust in those close to him. Rhames plays him perfectly as a formidable force, even under the worst circumstances.

My favorite character, however, is Butch. It may just be that I like Bruce Willis, but this isn't a standard Willis character. Butch is far from the wisecracking John McLane. When he first meet him he's notable for not saying anything, but not saying it aggressively in Charles Bronson fashion. He's not a regular inhabitant of Wallace's world of crime, just a boxer that sees the opportunity to make some money and be happy with the woman he loves. Of course Tarantino's love of the pulp/noir genre comes through here as well. The boxer taking a dive is another staple of the genre, as seen in "The Set-Up" and "The Harder They Fall" among others. Butch wants to take the opportunity for all it's worth though, accepting not only Wallace's pay off, but placing his own bets, with the odds sure to pay off if he wins, since everyone knows about the fix. We know that Butch grew up without a father, and has made his own idea of what manhood is. The young Butch is instantly recognizable by the way he listens without saying a word. He ends up being quite formidable beating a boxer to death without even realizing it. We see that Butch as much as anyone else has made up his own codes and is more than just a thug. We see him get furious when realizing Fabienne didn't grab the watch his father left him. He catches himself and realizes that she couldn't know how important it was, because he didn't tell her. It doesn't make the watch less important, but it does show that he's careful about assigning blame. As tough as he may be to others, to Fabienne, who is clearly very delicately constituted, he endeavors to be gentle. Butch's code has nothing to do with Marsellus Wallace, although he rightly assumes that crossing him will put him in a lot of danger. Danger doesn't stop him from going to get his watch though, even though his apartment is the worst place for him to be. As with the boxing match, Butch is quick to seize opportunity when finding Vincent without his gun, and when Marsellus crosses the street in front of him. Neither he or Marsellus could've predicted Maynard and Zed's behavior. Butch's strength of character really comes through though, when he's about to leave but decides not to leave Marsellus there. It's worth considering that Marsellus is the biggest enemy Butch has, and he really has nothing to gain from saving him. It's the principle of the thing though. Butch can't leave anyone to that fate. Fortunately, Wallace respects this but that' not something he could've counted on.

Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer are also great as Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. The two armed robbers who think they're bigger fish than they are. Although their roles are relatively small, they make quite an impact, coming across as an affectionate pair who just happen to be deranged. Honey Bunny's distress when Jules grabs Pumpkin is almost to watch and her presence alone creates massive suspense. We can't be sure what she's capable of. Uma Thurman's Mia is another standout. Her personality had a lot to do with it being a memorable experience. She's a femme fatale who's mostly a danger to herself and not what we expect from being Wallace's wife. Although the marriage dynamic isn't heavily explored, we get a character who knows what she wants and takes it without apology, only having the misfortune of finding the wrong coat pocket.
Christopher Walken's appearance is also great, and you can depend on him to make even a minor role a highlight of a film. The gravity with which he tells the story of the watch is so compelling the means of hiding it don't diminish it's importance at all. Harvey Keitel's Winston Wolf is fantastic, and illustrates how effective having the right actor in a small part can be. We never question that Winston Wolf is the only guy in the world that can solve this problem.

True to it's title, Pulp Fiction is populated entirely with new takes on the world of pulp characters. We recognize them, but they're given a chance to be themselves here. They can say what they want and do what they want or not. But the way they're treated it's tough to think of them as old here. This is a film that says, "What if all the characters from all those stories, the hit men, the fixer, the boxer taking a dive, the femme fatale, and the two bit hoods all got together in the same movie, in present day?" It sounds sure to make an interesting story and it does. The out of order filming gives it an energy that makes it fly by even though it's a fairly long film. Just as we get settled on a character and wonder what they'll do next, we move to another and ask the same thing. Pulp Fiction is informed by pulp, but isn't bound by it. Maybe these shady characters will meet gloomy ends, but maybe they won't. It's not afraid of happy endings any more than of bad ones. Butch and Fabienne ride off towards retirement. Honey Bunny and Pumpkin get away with a great take, and get to stay alive. There are consequences and things to be suffered, but maybe there's true love or divine intervention. We don't know until they get to it and that's certainly the mark of a great story.

What Happens?

The film opens on a couple in a diner, Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) discussing. Pumpkin is declaring that he's "all done. through with this shit." Honey Bunny reminds him that the always says this and then forgets in a day or two which makes him sound "like a duck." when he complains "Quack, quack, quack." During the discussion, they amend the "not doing it again" to mean "after tonight." Pumpkin mentions that robbing banks is easier, because they're instructed not to resist in any way, and you don't even need a gun. He tells a story about a man robbing a bank with his cell phone. She asks if he wants to rob banks. He tells her that he's only illustrating that it would be easier than what they've been doing.

She asks "No more liquor stores?" He agrees and Pumpkin mentions the difficulty with foreigners owning stores, not understanding commands to hand over money, which could force them to kill someone. Honey Bunny replies "I don't want to kill anybody." He agrees "I don't want to kill anybody either." He mentions the likelihood of robbing liquor stores forcing their hand by causing an "us or them" situation. Honey Bunny realizes he's planning to rob the diner they're in. He says "Nobody ever robs restaurants.Why not?" He reasons that restaurants don't expect to get robbed and will therefore be easier. Honey Bunny says "I bet you could cut down on the hero factor in a place like this." Pumpkin agrees and points out that like banks, restaurants are insured. He tells Honey Bunny he got the idea from her taking wallets from the customers who came in to the last liquor store they robbed. They made more from the wallets than from the register, so he figured a lot of people (with wallets) come into restaurants. "Pretty smart, huh?" he asks her. She agrees. She tells him. "I'm ready. Let's do it. Right now, right here." He agrees and pulls out his gun. He tells here "Same as last time. You're crowd control. I handle employees." They kiss. They stand up and yell to the patrons waving their guns. The screen blacks out for the title sequence.

We pick up with two hit men Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) having a conversation about Hash as Jules drives.Vincent explains the rules around smoking hash in Amsterdam. Vincent tells Jules the rules around owning and selling hash, and adds that it's illegal for Amsterdam cops to search you. "I'm going." Jules replies. He tells Jules about other differences in Europe, saying "They got the same shit there they got here, it's just a little different."
Jules: Example?
Vincent: Alright, well you can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer, and I don't mean just like, in no paper cup. I'm talking about a glass of beer. And, in Paris, you can buy a beer at McDonald's. You know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Paris?
Jules: They don't call it a quarter pounder with cheese?
Vincent: No man, they got the Metric system. They don't call it a quarter pounder with cheese.
Jules: What do they call it?
Vincent: They call it "Royale with cheese."
Jules: Royale with cheese?
Vincent: That's right.
Jules: What do they call a Big Mac?
Vincent: Well, a Big Mac's a Big Mac, but they call it "Le Big Mac."
Vincent tells him more about the customs until they get where they're going. They open the trunk and Jules remarks that they should have shotguns. They discuss how many guys will be in the room they're going to, figuring there could be up to five guys. Vincent agrees that they should have shotguns. They discuss Mia, their boss, Marsellus' new wife. Jules tells Vincent she was an actress and was in a pilot. Vincent doesn't know what a pilot is, and Jules explains it to him. As they enter the building, Jules tells Vincent about a guy that Marsellus "fucked up good" allegedly on account of Mia. They enter an elevator and Vincent asks "So what'd he do, fuck her?"
Jules: No, no, no. Nothing that bad.
Vincent: Well then, what then?
Jules: He gave her a foot massage.
Vincent: A foot massage? And what did Marsellus do?
Jules: He sent a couple of cats over to his place. They took him out to his patio, threw his ass over the balcony. Nigger fell four stories. They had a little garden down at the bottom, enclosed in glass, like a greenhouse. Nigger fell through that. Since then, he's developed kind of a speech impediment.
Vincent: That's a damn shame.

They exit the elevator and walk down a hallway. They discuss whether or not Marsellus overreacted. Vincent reasons that the guy had to expect a reaction. Jules contends that a foot massage is nothing.They discuss the possible inappropriateness of foot massages, Vincent stumps Jules by suggesting that he wouldn't give a guy a foot massage. They get to the door and Jules asks Vincent to check the time. He shows 7:22 A.M., and Jules says it isn't time yet. They move back into the hallway and Jules elaborates on the foot massage issue, insisting that just because he wouldn't give a man a foot massage, Marsellus shouldn't have thrown the guy off a building for doing it. Vincent says he's not claiming it's right, but a foot massage definitely means something and Antwan should've known better. Jules considers this and tells him "It's an interesting point." They head back for the door. Jules asks Vincent why he's so interested in Mia, and Vincent tells him that Marsellus is going out of town and asked him to keep an eye on her.

They enter the apartment and find three guys in the living room, including Brett (Frank Whaley) the guy they came to see. Jules introduces them as "associates of your business partner, Marsellus Wallace" He comments on the fact that they're eating hamburgers for breakfast, taking a bite of one. Jules then starts talking to the other roommates asking "where you got the shit hid at."  They tell him to look in the kitchen cupboard where Vincent is standing. Vincent looks and finds a briefcase, he opens it up and we see it glowing from the inside. Jules asks "We happy?" Vincent says they are. Brett asks Jules for his name.
Jules: My names Pitt. and your ass ain't talking your way out of this shit.
Brett: No, no, no. I just want you to know how sorry we are that things got so fucked up with us and Mr. Wallace. We got into this thing with the best intentions, really. [Jules pulls out his gun and shoots a guy on the couch]
Jules: Oh, I'm sorry. Did I break your concentration? I didn't mean to do that. Please, continue. You were saying something about best intentions. What's the matter? Oh, you were finished! Allow me to retort. What does Marsellus Wallace look like?
Brett: What?
Jules: [Knocks over the table] What country are you from?
Brett: Wh-What?
Jules: "What" ain't no country I ever heard of. They speak English in "What?"
Brett: What?
Jules: English, Motherfucker. Do you speak it?
Brett: Yes!
Jules: Then you know what I'm saying!
Brett: Yes!
Jules: Describe what Marsellus Wallace looks like!
Brett: What, I...[Jules puts his gun in Brett's face]
Jules: Say "what" again! Say "what" again! I dare you. I double dare you motherfucker. Say "what" one more goddamn time!
Brett: He's black...
Jules: Go on.
Brett: He's bald.
Jules: Does he look like a bitch?
Brett: What?
Jules: [Shoots Brett in the shoulder] DOES HE LOOK LIKE A BITCH?
Brett: No!
Jules: Then why you try to fuck him like a bitch, Brett?
Brett: I didn't...
Jules: Yes you did. Yes you did! You tried to fuck him. And Marcellus Wallace don't like to be fucked by anybody except Mrs. Wallace. You read the Bible, Brett?
Brett: Yes.
Jules: There's this passage I got memorized, sort of fits the occasion. Ezekiel 25:17 The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee.
Brett: No! [Jules and Vincent start firing]

The Screen goes black and Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." comes on. The titles tell show, "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife." We see Butch (Bruce Willis) in a bar talking to Marsellus (Ving Rhames) who tells him "I think you're gonna find, when all this shit is over, you're gonna find yourself one smilin' motherfucker." Thing is, Butch, right now, you got ability, but, painful as it may be, ability don't last. And, your days are just about over.Now, that's a hard motherfuckin' fact of life, but that's a fact of life your ass is gonna have to get realistic about. You see, this profession is filled to the brim with unrealistic motherfuckers. Motherfuckers who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't."
 Butch listens to the speech stone faced without saying a word. Marsellus pulls out a stack of money and asks "Are you my nigger?" Butch grabs the money and answers "It certainly appears so."  Marsellus tells him "The night of the fight, you may feel a slight sting. That's pride fucking with you. Fuck pride! Pride only hurts. It never helps. YOu fight through that shit, 'cause a year from now, when you're kicking it in the Caribbean, you're gonna say to yourself, "Marsellus Wallace was right."
Butch: I got no problem with that, Mr. Wallace.
Marsellus: In the fifth, your ass goes down. [Butch nods] Say it.
Butch: In the fifth, my ass goes down.

We find Jules and Vincent entering the backdoor of the same bar no longer in their suits, but dressed in shorts and t-shirts.  The bartender tells them they can see Marellus when he's done talking to Butch. The bartender mentions that Vincent is going to be taking Mia out tomorrow. Vincent assures him he's not an idiot, but laughs. Butch comes up to the bar for cigarettes and takes a look at Vincent, who is looking back at him. Butch asks "You looking at something, friend?" Vincent says "You ain't my friend, palooka."
Butch: What was that?
Vincent: I think you heard me just fine, punchy.
Marsellus interrupts them by calling Vincent to his table.

We then meet Jody (Roseanna Arquette) talking about her 18 piercings to another woman. Vincent is listening in and asks why she would get a stud in her tongue. "Helps fellatio." She tells him. Vincent is called over by Lance (Eric Stoltz) a local drug dealer. Lance gives him a choice of three kinds of heroin, one of them being $200.00 more than the others. He assures Vincent "When you shoot it, you'll know where the money went." Lance asks Vincent if he wants to hang out and get high, but Vincent says he has to go. Lance asks Vincent about his Malibu, and he tells Lance that somebody keyed it. He shoots up an Lance's place and then drives off while he's high.

We see him arrive at Marsellus' house. Mia leaves a note on the door, telling him to let himself in and have a drink. She sees him through cameras in the house and tells him via intercom to get a drink and she'll be right down. While Vincent drinks, Mia snorts some cocaine and she's ready to go. Vincent drives her somewhere. She tells him "This is Jack Rabbit Slim's. An Elvis man should love it." He tells her they should go get a steak, and she tells him he can get one there. They get in to the 50's themed establishment and are seated in a car. A Buddy Holly lookalike is their waiter. "What do you think?" Mia asks. "It's like a wax museum with a pulse." Vincent answers. Vincent orders a steak, and seems astonished when Mia orders a $5.00 shake, checking to see that there's no alcohol in it to justify the $5.00. She asks Vincent about Amsterdam, and he tells her he was there for three years. She tells him that she goes once a year to chill out. He mentions her pilot.
Mia: That was my fifteen minutes.
Vincent: What was it?
Mia: It was a show about a team of female secret agents, called "Fox Force Five."
Vincent: What?
Mia: "Fox" as in, we're a bucnch of foxy chicks. "Force" as in we're a force to be reckoned with, and Five, as in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of us. There was a blonde one, Sommerset O'Neal. She was the leader. The Japanese fox was a kung-fu master. The black girl was a demolition expert. French Fox's specialty was sex.
Vincent: What was your specialty?
Mia: Knives. The character I played, Raven McCoy, her background was, she grew up raised by circus performers. According to the show, she was the deadliest woman in the world, with a knife. And, she knew a zillion old jokes. Her grandfather, an old vaudevillian taught her and if we would've got picked up, they would've worked in a gimmick where every show, I would've told another joke.
Vincent: You know any of them old jokes?
Mia: Well, I only got the chance to say one, because we only did one show.
Vincent: Tell me.
Mia: It's corny.
She declines to tell him because "it's been built up too much." He asks for a sip of her milkshake saying "I gotta know what a $5.00 milkshake tastes like." She lets him even telling him he can use her straw. After a sip he says "Goddamn that's a pretty fucking good milkshake." At a pause in conversation they discuss uncomfortable silences. Mia  excuses herself to "powder her nose." and tells Vincent to think of something to say. Mia snorts some coke in the bathroom, and finds her food on the table. Vincent remarks that they should have sat in the Marilyn Monroe section as Buddy Holly isn't much of a waiter. Mia remarks that there are two Monroe's but Vincent corrects her, pointing out that one of her Marilyn's is Mamie Van Doren. He adds that Jayne Mansfield must have the night off. She asks if he thought of something to say, and he tells her he did, but she has to promise not to get offended.
Mia: No! no. no no. You can't promise something like that. I have no idea what you're going to ask me. So you can go ahead and ask me what you're gonna ask me and my natural response could be to get offended. Then, through no fault of my own, I would've broken my promise.
Vincent: Let's just forget it.
Mia: That's an impossibility. Trying to forget anything as intriguing as this would be an exercise in futility.
Vincent: Is that a fact?
Mia: Isn't it more exciting when you don't have permission?
Vincent: Alright. well, here it goes. What did you think about what happened to Antwan?
Mia: Who's Antwan?
Vincent: Tony Rocky Horror. You know him.
Mia: He fell out of a window.
Vincent: Well, that is one way to say it. Another way to say it would be he got thrown out. Another way would be he was thrown out by Marsellus. And yet, even another way is to say he was thrown out a window by Marsellus because of you.
Mia: That a fact?
Vincent: No, no, it's not a fact. It's just what I heard.
Mia: Who told you?
Vincent: They.
Mia: They talk a lot, don't they?
Vincent: They certainly do. They certainly do.
Mia: Don't be shy Vincent. What else did they say?
Vincent: Well, I'm not shy...
Mia: Did it involve the "F" word?
Vincent: No, they just said that Antwan had given you a foot massage.
Mia: And?
Vincent: And nothin', that's it.
Mia: You heard Marsellus threw Tony Rocky Horror out of a 4 story window for giving me a foot massage? And you believe that?
Vincent: Well at the time I was told, it sounded reasonable.
Mia: Marsellus throwing Tony out of a 4 story window for massaging my feet seemed reasonable?
Vincent: No, it seems excessive, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen. I understand that Marsellus is very protective of you.
Mia: A husband being protective of his wife is one thing. A husband almost killing another man for touching his wife's feet is something else.
Vincent: Did it happen?
Mia: The only thing Antwan ever touched of mine was my hand when he shook it, at my wedding.
Vincent: Really?
Mia: Truth is nobody knows why Marsellus threw Tony out of that four story window, except Marsellus and Tony. When you little scamps get together, you're worse than a sewing circle.

Jack Rabbit Slim's announces a twist contest. Mia enters them in the contest. She reminds Vincent that Marsellus told him to do what she wants. She tells him "I want that trophy, so dance good." He agrees and they dance.

They win the trophy and head back to Mia's house, still dancing on the way in, Mia wearing Vincent's coat. She puts on some music at the house and dances waiting for Vincent to get out of the bathroom. In the bathroom, Vincent looks at himself in the mirror and tells himself to have one drink, so not to be rude and then to leave quickly. He tells himself this "a test of whether or not you can maintain loyalty."  Mia stops dancing and finds the drugs Vincent had in his pocket. She snorts some while Vincent is giving himself the pep talk. She is immediately in obvious distress.  She passes out with her nose bleeding. Vincent finds her, puts her in his car and speeds off, telling her "Don't fucking die on me, Mia." on the ride. He calls Lance  doesn't answer his phone as he's watching TV. Jody scolds him about telling people not to call so late. He tells her that's exactly what he's going to say right now, and takes the call. Vincent tells Lance that he's in trouble since Mia is OD'ing and he's going to bring her to Lance's house. Lance tells him not to do it, but then realizes Vincent is on a cell phone. Vincent is there in moments. Lance goes outside and scolds him, telling him it's not going to happen. Once Vincent explains that Mia is Wallace's wife, he agrees to help. Jody comes down yelling at them. Lance goes to find an adrenaline shot. telling Vincent he's never given one. Unable to find the book with instructions, they get the shot and Vincent takes over. They mark her with an X and Lance tells Vincent he has to stab through her breastplate with the shot. Mia immediately comes to and starts flailing with the needle in her chest. Lance tells her to say something. She says "Something."

Vincent at home, and Vincent suggests that Marsellus "live his whole life never hearing about this incident." Mia says if Marsellus knew she'd be in as much trouble as him. Vincent tells her "I seriously doubt that." She agrees to keep it a secret and they shake on it. Vincent tells her he's going home to have a heart attack and walks away. She calls him, saying "Vincent, do you want to hear my Fox Force Five joke?
Vincent: Sure, except that I think I'm still too petrified to laugh.
Mia: No, you won't laugh because it's not funny, but if you still want to hear it, I'll tell you.
Vincent: I can't wait.
Mia: Ok. Three tomatoes are walking down the street; papa tomato, mama tomato, and baby tomato. Baby Tomato starts lagging behind and Papa Tomato gets really angry. goes back, squishes him and says "Catch up."
Vincent: Hmmm
Mia: "Ketchup" See you around.
She walks towards her door. Vincent blows her a kiss and leaves.

We then move to a little boy sitting right in front of the the TV, watching cartoons. His Mother calls and tells him, "Butch, you've got a special visitor." She introduces Captain Koons (Christopher Walken) who, she tells Butch was in the POW camp with his father (who died there.) Captain Koons tells young Butch that he heard a lot about him, and that being in the camp together, they agreed to take on certain responsibilities for each other. He tells him "I've got something for you." and shows Butch a watch. He explains that it's been handed down in Butch's family, and was made by the first watch company and functioned as his great grandfather's "war watch." in WWI, which he wore while he fought in the war and took off when he got home passing it to his son who did the same in WWII, and facing death had a stranger deliver the watch to his infant son, Butch's Dad who wore it to Viet Nam when he was shot down and captured.
"The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy's birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you."

We move to adult Butch, backstage in his boxing gear, sitting up when he hears a bell ring. He makes his way to the Ring as the screen reads "The Gold Watch." We hear the radio announcing "It's official, Wilson is dead." They call the fight "the bloodiest and most brutal fight the city has ever seen." They also remark on how fast Coolidge was out of there. We see a woman, Esmerelda (Angela Jones) listening to the reporting on the radio. We see Butch throwing a bag out of a window and then jumping from it himself into a dumpster below and then to a taxi where we see Esmerelda is waiting at the wheel.

We see Vincent being led down the hall by the bartender, Paul. They go down the halls where the boxer's dressing rooms are. They find Marsellus and inform him that Butch left, and his trainer doesn't know anything about it. Mia says hello to Vincent saying "I never thanked you for dinner." Marsellus tells have the trainer tortured to find out what he knows for sure. Asked how he wants the search done, Marsellus says "I'm prepared to scour the earth for that motherfucker. If Butch goes to Indochina, I want a nigger hiding in a bowl of rice ready to pop a cap in his ass." Paul assures him he'll take care of it. We find Butch in the back of the cab taking his gear off. Esmerelda asks if he was in that fight. He asks "Whatever gave you that idea?" But she insists that she knows it's him, until he says "I'm him." She says "You killed that other boxing man." Buth looks a little surprised and asks "He's dead?" and she tells him the radio said so. Butch mutters "Sorry about that, Floyd."
Esmerelda: What does that feel like?
Butch: What does what feel like?
Esmerelda: Killing a man. Beating another man to death with your bare hands.
Butch: Are you a weirdo?
Esmerelda: No. It is a subject I have much interest in. You are the first person I have ever met who has killed somebody. So, what does it feel like to kill a man?
Butch: Tell you what, you give me one of them cigarettes you got up there, and I'll tell you all about it. [She hands him a cigarette and lights it. He reads her cab license] So, Esmerelda VillaLobos, is that Mexican?
Esmerelda: THe name is Spanish but I am Colombian.
Butch: That's some handle you got there, honey.
Esmerelda: Thank you, and what is your name?
Butch: Butch
Esmerelda: Butch. What does it mean?
Butch:I'm an American honey. Our names don't mean shit. So, moving right along, Esmerelda, what is it you want to know?
Esmerelda: I want to know what it feels like to kill a man.
Butch: Couldn't tell ya. I didn't know he was dead until you told me he was dead. Now that I know he's dead, you want to know how I feel about it? I don't feel the least bit bad about it.
Esmerelda waits while Butch stops at a payphone and makes a call to an associate, Scotty, who placed bets for him. He discusses his bet on the fight, (money on himself)and the increase in odds since people thought the fight was fixed. His friend says he'll have the whole payout by tomorrow night. He tells Scotty that he and Fabienne are leaving in the morning and it will take a couple days to meet Scotty in Knoxville.

Butch gets out of the cab at the River Glen Motel and gives Esmerelda an extra large tip to say she never saw him. His girlfriend Fabienne (Maria DeMadeiros) is laying on the bed waiting for him. She tells him she was looking in the mirror and wishing she had a pot belly, as they are sexy. They discuss her theory playfully. Butch tells her if she had a pot belly he would punch her in it. She laughs and tells him she'd smother him with it. She asks him if everything went according to plan, and he's surprised she didn't hear it already on the radio. "I never listen to your fights." she says. He confirms that he won and he's still planning on retiring.
Fabienne: So it all worked out in the finish!
Butch: We're not at the finish yet, baby.
Fabienne: We're in a lot of danger, aren't we? If they find us, they'll kill us, won't they? [Butch nods] But they won't find us, will they? [Butch shakes his head] Do you still want me to go with you? [Butch nods] I don't want to be a burden or a nuisance.[Butch touches her] Say it.
Butch: Fabienne, I want you to be with me.
Fabienne: Forever?
Butch: Forever and ever.

They make sweet talk and she asks for "oral pleasure." A little later we see them getting cleaned up. Butch tells her "I think I cracked a rib." Fabienne asks "Giving me oral pleasure?" Butch answers "No, retard, from the fight." She tells him not to call her "retard." He gives her a hard time about it, mimicking her as if she was retarded.She gets mad and he apologizes.They discuss where they're going and Butch suggests a few places. before falling asleep. He wakes with a start later  and the two trade light banter about him being grumpy and breakfast. Butch looks through his things and can't find his watch. He starts getting upset with Fabienne which leads to him losing his temper and throwing things around frightening her. He calms down reminding himself "It's not your fault.I didn't illustrate how important it was."  He tells her he'll have to go back to his apartment to get it, and he'll be back fast. Once he's alone in his car he rants to himself about her forgetting the watch. He approaches his place cautiously and finds his watch almost instantly. He looks around and puts some pop tarts in the toaster only to notice a big gun on his kitchen counter. He hears the toilet flush and picks up the gun in time to see Vincent Vega coming out of his bathroom. They stare at each other until the pop tarts pop out of the toaster and Butch shoots Vincent dead and the smoke detector goes off. Butch leaves the gun, wiping it down and drives away. He tells himself "That's how you're gonna beat 'em Butch. They keep underestimating you." He stops for a red light, and Marsellus Wallace crosses the street in front of him. Marsellus realizes Butch is there and exclaims "Motherfucker!" as Butch realizing he's there and runs into him with his car. Another car hits Butch however. We see Marsellus waking up from unconsciousness with bystanders trying to help. They point him towards Butch and he pulls out his gun sending the bystanders running. Butch is still in his car with blood all over his face. Marsellus limps towards Butch and starts firing, hitting a bystander, which causes Butch to start moving, although he's limping as well. Marsellus chases him, firing and Butch ducks into a pawn shop. Marsellus follows him inside and when he gets through the door, Butch starts beating him repeating the line "That's pride fucking with you." Marsellus tells him "You better kill me." and both of them forget the store owner, Butch taking Marsellus' gun and pointing it at him. The store owner then pulls a shotgun on Butch and tells him to toss the weapon. He knocks Butch out with the shotgun and calls someone. He says "Zed, Maynard. yeah, spider just caught a couple flies."

A little later we find Butch and Marsellus tied to chairs, and both ballgagged. Maynard sprays them with water to wake them up. Maynard tells them "Nobody kills anybody in my place of business, except me or Zed." The doorbell rings. "That's Zed." Maynard says and answers it. Zed (Peter Greene) arrives and it turns out he's a sheriff. Maynard explains what happened. Zed asks them questions although they can't answer. He tells Maynard "Bring out the gimp." When Maynard says he's sleeping, Zed tells him to wake him up. Zed sits in a chair facing them while Maynard opens up a chest and lets "the gimp" a man completely covered in leather, and in chains, out of it. He brings the gimp over to Zed. Maynard asks "which one first?" and Zed decides via "eeny, meeny, miney, moe" settling on Marsellus. He drags Marsellus into the next room, leaving the gimp to watch Butch before theyclose the door. Butch hears noise in the other room, and struggles with the ropes, breaking free. The gimp is alarmed but can't say anything through his mask. Butch knocks him out and removes his own gag. He gets to the door to leave and hears Maynard and Zed making noises with Marsellus. He starts to leave but thinks again. He looks through the store for a weapon, finding a japanese sword. He goes back to the back room and finds Marsellus being sodomized by Zed while Maynard watches. Marsellus sees Butch enter the room, causing Maynard to look behind him. Butch kills him with the sword. Zed sees this and stands back, his gun just out of reach. Butch tells him at sword point  "You want that gun don't you Zed? Go ahead and pick it up. I want you to pick it up." Marsellus is now free and has the shotgun. He says "Step aside, Butch." He shoots Zed in the crotch. Butch asks if he's ok. Marsellus answers, "Nah, man. I'm pretty fucking far from okay." Butch asks "What now?" He tells Butch he's going to have a crew come over and work on Zed with pliers and a blowtorch. He tells Zed "I'm gonna get medieval on your ass."
Butch: I meant what now between me and you.
Marsellus: Oh, that what now. I tell you what now, between me and you. There is no me and you, not no more.
Butch: So, we cool?
Marsellus: Yeah, we cool. Two things: don't tell nobody about this, this shit is between me, you, and Mr. soon to be living the rest of his short assed life in agonizing pain, rapist here. It ain't nobody else's business. Two, you leave town tonight, right now. And when you go, you stay gone or be gone. You lost all your L.A. privileges. Deal?
Butch: Deal.
Butch leaves taking Zed's motorcycle to get Fabienne. He urges her to hurry but she doesn't understand what's going on and wants to be sure he's ok. He convinces her and they take off.

The Screen goes black and reads "The Bonnie Situation"
We hear the dialogue from Vincent and Jules visiting Brett telling him "Marsellus Wallace don't like to be fucked..." This time, however, we see another guy in the apartment, hiding in the bathroom with a gun, sweating and saying "I don't want to die." This time we see Brett getting shot, while Marvin, the other roommate mutters. Jules tells Marvin to knock it off as he's bothering Vincent. The gunfire shakes up the guy in the bathroom, who charges out saying "Die, you motherfuckers!" while emptying his gun in their direction. Jules and Vincent seem astonished. They look at themselves and find they're not injured at all. They then shoot the guy that fired at them. Vincent asks Marvin why he didn't tell them about the guy in the bathroom. Jules looks at the holes in the wall behind where they were standing and says "We should be fucking dead, man." Vincent says they were lucky, but Jules disagrees, calling it "divine intervention."
Jules: Do you know what divine intervention is?
Vincent: I think so. That means that God came down from heaven and stopped the bullets.
Jules: That's right. That's exactly what it means. God came down from heaven and stopped these motherfucking bullets.
Vincent: I think it's time for us to leave, Jules.
Jules: Don't do that. Don't fucking blow this shit off. What happened here was a fucking miracle.
Vincent: No Jules, this shit happens.
Jules: Wrong. This shit doesn't just happen.
Vincent: Do you want to continue this theological discussion in the car, or in the jailhouse with the cops?
Jules: we should be dead, friend. What happened here was a miracle and I want you to fucking acknowledge it.
Vincent: Alright, it was a miracle. Can we go now?
They bring Marvin with them.
In the car, Vincent talks about another incident where a guy should have died. Jules tells him his "eyes are wide open." and he's retiring and telling Marsellus. Vincent asks Marvin what he thinks, turning around to face him in the back seat. He accidentally fires his gun though, killing Marvin and making a huge mess in the car, covering the car and them in blood. They resolve to get the car off the road. Jules calls his friend Jimmie. (Quentin Tarantino) to use his garage for a while. Jules tells Vincent to be considerate of Jimmie since he's a friend and it's his house. They start getting cleaned up, and Jimmie makes them coffee. Jules tells him the coffee is amazing, but Jimmie tells him to knock it off since he knows how good it is, as he buys it. He says "You know what's on my mind right now? It ain't the coffee in my kitchen, it's the dead nigger in my garage." He then asks Jules "When you came pulling in here did you notice a sign that said "Dead Nigger Storage?" Of course Jules says no, but Jimmie keeps on the point. He tells them that if his wife Bonnie comes home, he'll be getting divorced, and he doesn't want that. He tell them she'll be home in an hour and a half, so get going. They call Marsellus who tells Jules he'll take care of it. He tells Jules to "wait for the Wolf, who will be coming directly." This makes Jules very happy. We see "The Wolf" (Harvey Keitel) taking down all the details of the situation. He says "It's 30 minutes away, I'll be there in ten." He introduces himself to Jimmie, saying "I'm Winston Wolf. i solve problems." Jimmie replies "Good, we got one." Winston looks at the body in the car and gathers details about the body and the car. He directs them to clean out the car, and makes arrangements to dispose of it while they clean. Vincent and Jules bicker over the cleaning task. They cover the seats with quilts afterwards, and then clean off Jules and Vincent. Wolf has them strip in the yard and hoses them down. Jimmie gives them T-shirts and shorts to wear. They drive the car to "Monster Joe's Truck and Tow." and they thank Winston for his help.

Vincent and Jules go out for breakfast at a restaurant. They discuss eating pork as Jules thinks pigs are filthy animals. They resume their debate about the "miracle," Vincent insisting that to him it was only "a freak occurrence." Jules tells Vincent that he's really retiring and he plans to "walk the Earth until he ends up where God wants him to be." Vincent replies "So, you decided to be a bum?" Jules replies,"I'll just be Jules, Vincent. No more, no less." Vincent insists that he'll be a bum, but Jules tells him they'll just have to disagree on this. We then see Pumpkin asking for coffee, from the beginning of the film. Vincent heads to the bathroom, telling Jules that their conversation is "to be continued." We see Pumpkin and Honey Bunny getting ready. Jules continues to eat his breakfast as the two of them yell at the patrons herding them into a manageable area. The manager assures Pumpkin that there will be no problem. Vincent takes his time reading in the bathroom, as Pumpkin empties the register and gets a bag for wallets. We see that Jules has his gun out now, beneath his table. He pulls out his wallet and holds it up. Jules drops his wallet into the bag, but Pumpkin asks him about his briefcase. Jules tells him it contains "my boss's dirty laundry." Pumpkin tells him to open it, but Jules says "I'm afraid I can't do that."
Pumpkin: I didn't hear you.
Jules: Yes, you did.

Pumpkin tells Honey Bunny "We've got a vigilante in our midst." She advises him to shoot Jules in the face.
The manager yells at Jules to just give Pumpkin what he wants. Jules yells"Shut the fuck up, fat man." Pumpkin tells Jules that he'll shoot him in the face if he doesn't open the case by the time he counts to three. On three, Jules says "Ok, Ringo, you win. It's yours." He opens the case and we see the glow on Pumpkin's face. Pumpkin seems amazed and asks "Is that what I think it is?"  Jules confirms that it is. Pumpkin says "It's beautiful." Honey Bunny wants to know what it is,but while Pumpkin is intrigued by the case, Jules grabs him and pulls him down to the table, putting his gun to Pumpkin's head. Honey Bunny freaks out and Jules tells Pumpkin to calm her down. He settles her down. She tells him not to hurt him. Jules gets Honey bunny's name (Yolanda) and assures her "Nobody's gonna hurt anybody. We're all gonna be like 3 Little Fonzies. What's Fonzie like?" Honey Bunny answers "Cool." Jules tells Pumpkin he's going to count to three, and when he does, Pumpkin is to let go of his gun and sit down. Pumpkin obliges, but Yolanda starts screaming at Jules to let him go. Jules tells her "Yolanda, I thought you were gonna be cool. But when you yell at me, it makes me nervous, and when I get nervous, I get scared. And when motherfuckers get scared, that's when motherfuckers get accidentally shot.
Yolanda: Just know, you hurt him, you die.
Jules: That seems to be the situation. But, I don't want that and you don't want that.  And, Ringo here, definitely doesn't want that. So let's see what we can do. Now, here's the situation. Normally, both your asses would be dead as fucking fried chicken, but you happened to pull this shit while I'm in a transitional period and I don't want to kill you. I want to help you, but I can't give you this case, 'cause it don't belong to me. Besides, I been through too much shit over this case this morning to just hand it over to your dumb ass. Vincent! [realizing he's come out of the bathroom  and is pointing a gun at Yolanda] Be cool!
Jules tells Vincent to hang back and tells Yolanda to point the gun away from Vincent and back on him. Jules reassures Yolanda and has Pumpkin reassure her, telling them it's almost over.
Jules: Now, I want you to go in that bag and find my wallet.
Pumpkin: Which one is it?
Jules: It's the one that says "Bad Motherfucker."
Pumpkin goes through the bag and finds it.Jules tells him to open it up, take out the money and count it. He counts $1,500.00. Jules tells him "Put it in your pocket. It's yours." He tells Pumpkin that that money, plus the other wallets and the register is a pretty successful score. Vincent interrupts, saying "Jules, if you give that motherfucker $1,500.00, I'll shoot him on general principle." This gets Yolanda going again. He tells her Vincent won't do anything and adds "Vince, shut the fuck up!"
Jules: I ain't giving it to him, Vincent. I'm buying something for my money. [Looks at Pumpkin] Want to know what I'm buying, Ringo?
Pumpkin: What?
Jules: Your life. I'm giving you that money so I don't have to kill your ass. You read the Bible Ringo?
Pumpkin: Not regularly, no.
Jules: Well, there's this passage I got memorized, Ezekiel 25:17, "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee." Now I been saying that shit for years, and if you heard it, that meant your ass. I never gave much thought to what it meant. I just thought it was some cold blooded shit to say to a motherfucker before I popped a cap in his ass. But I saw some shit this morning that made me think twice. See, now I'm thinkin' maybe it means you're the evil man and I'm the righteous man, and Mr. 9 Millimeter here, he's the shepherd protecting my righteous ass in the valley of darkness. Or, it could mean, you're the righteous man and I'm the shepherd and it's the world that's evil and selfish. Now, I'd like that, but that shit ain't the truth. The truth is, you're the weak and I am the tyranny of evil men, but I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin' real hard to be the shepherd.
Jules puts down his gun and tells Pumpkin to go. He and Honey Bunny leave with their bag. Vincent says "I think we should be leaving now." Jules agrees that it's a good idea. As they leave, the credits come up.


Unknown said...

Oh Pulp Fiction , how do I love thee? I think my favorite part of this whole film is the dialogue. Tarantino and Whedon are my dialogue mentors, I swear. No one else encapsulates just how real people talk to each other. There's a vibe to dialogue that tags each character. No one sounds like anyone else in this film.

The cast is sheer brilliance and this is perhaps my favorite film with Sam L. Certainly Travolta made a masterful comeback here. I'd love to see him do another Tarantino flick.

My favorite character is Jules. I love his code, the way he works and his outlook. He is like those mobsters that go to church on Sunday after they've murdered.

Terrific summation and I do have a soft spot for Bruce in this as well. Very different from his normal roles.

INDBrent said...

Thanks, Melissa! He definitely shines in the dialogue department. Pulp Fiction is one of those rare films where every performance is great. Another thing I like about it is, Tarantino always makes it seem like he loved making the film. It really coems through!

M. Hufstader said...

Killer review for a killer movie! I can see why Bruce Willis would be a favorite, his character is brilliant and he's a good macho-man-with-a-soul. I don't know if I could chose one character out of the bunch! But you did a great job at showing how Tarantino really does humanize every one of his "bad guys" perfectly. Brilliant!

M. Hufstader said...

Killer review for a killer movie! I can see why Bruce Willis would be a favorite, his character is brilliant and he's a good macho-man-with-a-soul. I don't know if I could chose one character out of the bunch! But you did a great job at showing how Tarantino really does humanize every one of his "bad guys" perfectly. Brilliant!

INDBrent said...

Thanks, M.! It is tough to pick. There's not one wasted character here. I've been meaning to get to this one for ages but there's just so much to cover!


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