blood and f****** spirituality

I think one of the problems many people have with this movie is that it defined and set into motion an extremely irritating trend in contemporary film. The god-awful clones of Tarantino pouring out of indie and mainstream studios alike should not, however, detract from the brilliance and subtlety of this movie. It works simply because those moments of brilliance (I have to admit I know the whole “Jules redemption-speech” by heart) that its imitators lack come in the midst of the camp and gore they all do so well. Tarantino alone uses an adolescent obsession with shallowness and morbidity to high satirical effect–like all great films (or even novels), this movie sets itself into a two-dimensional genre (absurd, pop-culture, comic-book situations) and then undermines its own genre by exposing the heart and soul underneath. There are too many points in the movie in which this happens to mention, but a few come to mind: the blown kiss from Vincent to Mia at the end of the first (or maybe second) story; the death of Vincent; the obvious emotional dedication of Butch to his wife at the end of his own story; Vincent’s unwillingness to believe in his own supernatural salvation without realizing he’s doomed; and, of course, the climactic speech. With the exception of Jules’s final words, many of these moments seem at first to be horrifying or funny–but this is only because they fit so well into the flow of the script. A second glance shows them to be moments so poignant that the only reason they work is because they are so unique to the characters and their situations. The changes in each (or the lack of change) come, in a sense, as they individually choose to either drive for them or fall behind. Most die-hard fans of the movie, I’m sure, have heard the story of the briefcase and the band-aids on the back of Wallace’s neck (the entire movie being a quest to bring back his stolen soul), and although Tarantino has denied it, he can’t deny that the movie is full of such heroic themes: escape by trial, the reclamation of past, love as both physical salvation and personal security, a will to believe in something beyond one’s own selfish world. I won’t say that if you don’t like this movie that you’re mistaken or ignorant, but I think that Tarantino puts his audience into settings much like his characters are in: cheap, full of profanity and nastiness, fleeting. The best of them break through; I think he asks that anyone watching do the same.

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