Today is the beginning of a new feature on this blog which I have tentatively decided to call “Play It Again.” What I’ve done is asked a number of individuals to share their thoughts on a film that they keep returning to. Participants weren’t asked to name their favorite film, but one they’ve poured over endlessly, relishing every frame as if they were previous unseen, yet contemplating the work’s familiarity like the embrace of a long-lost love. I’ll be posting a new entry every other day until the submissions are depleted.
I open with an entry from Dylan Venneman, an obsessive cinephile, health food aficionado, and ridiculously kindhearted drinking buddy. Few men can match his kind spirit and even fewer his borderline encyclopedic knowledge of interesting and relevant cinema. Dylan is a veteran of several world premiers, has shaken Kiefer Sutherland's hand (twice), and once shared a a dance floor with Haylie Duff, who complimented him on his sweet moves. Hailing from Cedar Rapids, IA, Dylan had a bit part in the zombie film “Dead Men Walking” and currently works in the film industry, where he survived a round of brutal layoffs to begin the long road to Hollywood domination.
Dylan’s choice is Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece about the intersection of offbeat underworld thugs in the City of Angels:
One thing that immediately stands out to me is dialogue. I feel this has become synonymous with all of Quentin Tarantino’s films, but most especially Pulp Fiction. This creates a certain feel that let’s you know his stamp is all over it. I think, if anything, this is what he injects into his films that make a lot of them great, and worth revisiting. Many will speak of his aesthetic styling etc., but ultimately I think dialogue helps to vault this into the upper-echelon.
A line I always get a chuckle out of takes place after Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) have secured their boss’ mysterious suitcase. Vincent turns to the back of the car to ask Marvin (Phil LaMarr) a question and mistakenly shoots him, spraying the poor man’s head across the back windshield. Vincent, showing somewhat minor concern replies: “Oh man, I just shot Marvin in the face.” To someone reading this (without having seen the movie), this seems like a most dreadful act of violence, warranting anything but a chuckle. However, Tarantino’s dialogue, coupled with Travolta’s delivery, make for a much funnier scene than one would anticipate. This is just one of numerous lines that are instantly recognizable from this film. If anything, I would say this movie plays out as an insanely dark comedy; forcing uncomfortable laughs from the viewer, and making it appreciate in value over time.
Another great bit of this film that is continually discussed is Tarantino’s use of a non-linear narrative. The interweaving storylines weren’t something new at the time the film came out, but a fresh take on it. I felt as if there was never a dull moment, as I truly became engrossed in each character’s journey. Again, this is owed to Tarantino’s writing as he has created memorable characters that we, as the audience, want to follow. What I find that’s so fantastic about this is that each time we follow these characters, there are always new layers of meaning and depth that we can peel back. I never bore of this film because I know that every time I see it I’ll find something new worth mulling over. What’s in the suitcase of Marcellus Wallace? Why does he have a bandage on the back of his head? What can we deduce from the chemistry between Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and Vincent during the course of their “date?” The list could easily go on. Ultimately, I think these are just a few points that help this film stay relevant in my mind and continue to grow as the years progress. - Dylan Venneman