Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pulp Fiction

I can't believe it took me so long to discover Pulp Fiction. Reservoir Dogs, raved about it. Inglorious Basterds, loved it. But nothing prepared me for this. For this onslaught of genius. I don't really believe in the notion of originality, but if anything is, this sure is. This is a film that is pulsating with energy through every frame, every dialogue. And the music amps it up. Tarantino seems to be intoxicated with the whole process of making a movie that he creates something that we seldom see- a film that is a living, breathing entity. This is an instance where the movie seems to have developed a symbiotic relationship with its writer-director that they're feeding off each other. God, I don't know what to say.

The film hit me so hard, despite its cult following, despite its innumerable spin-offs, despite having heard so much about it. I don't know what it would have been like had I seen it without expecting anything. The characters are so loud, so not-so-real that they could have turned caricaturish. Instead, they embrace the fact that they're so over-the-top; that they're not based on real people but are truly Tarantino's original creations, based on the thousands of movies he must have watched as that video store clerk. Filmmakers have always taken pride in making their characters as real, as normal, as believable as possible. But Tarantino, here, shoots that philosophy in the head and invites us into his wild fantasies.

I believe the whole motive of cinema, the reason behind its creation,  was to capture the wilderness of the imagination. That is why we have huge screens, blaring music, epic heroes. Cinema, as art, was not a medium used for introspection; its heroes were not meant to be people we could relate to but only those we could aspire to be. Jim Carrey, when talking about Eastwood's Man-With-No-Name protagonist of his Dollars Trilogy, hits this precise note. He says the hero, a larger-than-life mythic figure, had no name so that we could fill in ours. But somewhere in the journey, as cinema got more personal and intimate, started showing us our most private, vulnerable facets, we lost sight of the improbable. And soon, anything improbable, was looked upon as something impossible.

Tarantino embraces just that. He takes that leap of imagination. We know we might never encounter a Bible quoting gangster, or a cleanup guy who is so calm even when clearing bits of brain as if it is the most obvious thing in the world, and I'm pretty sure nobody can be as clever and as inventive in their dialogue in real life but that is the whole fuckin' point. To remind ourselves how much fun film making can be and why we love cinema so much.

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