Well, it’s 2014 and that means, unbelievably, that Pulp Fiction will reach the age of twenty years this year. I caught it on the big screen in 2013 as part of a classics series at a local theater. It was, I think, the third time I’ve seen it. Regardless, let’s talk about the amazing ensemble. Heading up the cast are two performers that are career best: Samuel L. Jackson as the iconic, intimidating, hilarious Jules Winfield and John Travolta as the druggy, fairly incompetent Vincent Vega. Uma Thurman is just as iconic as Winfield as the utterly charming Mia Wallace; she’d be career best two if not for Kill Bill. Bruce Willis is as badass as he’s ever been as the scheming, but ultimately righteous boxer, Butch; his climactic moment comes as he slowly considers his options in a pawn shop and he’s deliriously, wonderfully unhinged. Speaking of unhinged, Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer (Plummer’s another actor that’s career best) find a really wonderful place as Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. With a small amount of screen time, they make you actually, genuinely care about their characters, stupid though they are. You honestly want everything to work out okay for the little morons; their love for each other feels completely real. Two really strange, great performances. Quentin Tarantino is, once again, career best (when it comes to acting, that is) as the neurotic, twitchy Jimmy from Toluca Lake. Harvey Keitel is on hand as the enigmatic, witty and implacably cool Wolf. Ving Rhames is literally starmaking as the calculating, utterly cold Marcellus Wallace. Let’s get into the even smaller roles. Eric Stoltz is quite funny (“I’m kinda curious about that myself.”) in his small role. Christopher Walken shows up and locks up the “Best Film Cameo of All Time” award and maybe the “Best Original Film Monologue of All Time” award as well. Last, but certainly not least, Duane Whitaker & Peter Greene absolutely knock it out of the park as a pair of brutally twisted rapists in the film’s most nightmarish sequence. It’s one of those instances where the actors are almost TOO good in the roles; I can’t imagine that they both got totally typecast after this. It’s hard to picture these men as anything but horribly evil, skin-crawlingly scummy predators after their section of the film wraps. Pulp Fiction is a film that holds up and it’s yet another example of Tarantino’s ability to assemble genuinely top notch casts and push them to career best or nearly so in their performances. These are some astonishing performances in an astonishing film. The movie holds up; the performances definitely do.
Next time, it’s the final award for Best Ensemble and it’s a film that it strikes me very few people saw in 2013, which was a real shame.