Joy to the world: Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction—a gritty crime romp set in mid-1990s L.A.—is now out in 4K Ultra HD.
You’ve seen the movie. Look beyond my review for a recitation of the plot. Many others have explained the influence this love letter to B-films (and high-low trash) has had on millions of creatives.
The Paramount 4K UHD release does the movie proud. It’s never looked better (and I saw it on the big screen, on its opening weekend in 1994). Colors stay lurid and (how should I say it?) a tad greasy. In 4K, this neo-noir jukebox of a movie still walks tall. The UHD transfer hasn’t turned it into an outrage of Digital Noise Reduction.
What about the movie, 28 years later? I’m not sure it’s for me anymore.
QT made other funny, violent (but not gratuitous) movies. Most of them have an epic feel. Most of them play with narrative structure. They have an idiosyncratic take on conventional storytelling methods in cinema. Pulp Fiction is tight, yes; and it’s the quintessential QT joint. All the man’s hallmarks are here (e.g., odd low-lives, casual, mellifluous dialogue that sets things up and pays them off in style, unexpected turns of the plot, and reclaimed pop songs, R&B tracks, and soundtrack nuggets that comment on [or somehow enhance] the action on-screen). It’s a movie that never lets you forget you’re watching a movie.
Yet Pulp Fiction doesn’t excite me as it once did. The reason escapes me.
Maybe it’s the cleverness with which QT and his co-scenarist, Roger Avary, tie the interlocking stories together. The chronology zigzags. Offset by a tone of gonzo pitilessness, a theme of redemption sparks. Certain viewers argue these elements lift the movie to greatness. I’m not sure I agree. There is an ironic romantic mind at work here. Had Pulp Fiction been clumsier with its exposition, had it featured fewer interesting characters, and had QT & Avary structured and cast it with a duller eye, it’d be heavy-handed, pretentious bullshit.
In this movie and others, QT reinvigorated genre cinema. Pulp Fiction is a wonderful movie. As an example—nay, a model—of what can happen when a talented filmmaker throws his obsessions in a blender and uniquely spins the results, it inspires.
But I still think it strains a bit.
The plenitude of special features on the two-disc Paramount 4K steel-book set makes it a keeper. Among the features on the 4K disc is an extra made for the 2011 Blu-ray release, that catches up with the cast to discuss the movie and its legacy. Also on this disc is an enhanced trivia track and a brief discussion between film critics (thank God, not all of them fawn over the movie). Besides the movie itself, the Blu-ray disc offers behind-the-scenes footage, cast interviews, deleted scenes, film award ceremony footage, and marketing and stills galleries. This disc also provides a trivia track, a Siskel & Ebert segment on the ‘Tarantino generation,’ and a featurette entitled “Pulp Fiction: The Facts.” Lastly, the steel-book provides access to a digital copy of the movie.
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