I have to go back to my initial reaction to Pulp Fiction in 1994. I don’t expect to see another movie that has that kind of impact. I question whether Pulp holds up for younger people than me, but at that moment I had simply, even as a so-called film geek, never seen a movie as well conceived or executed.
Tarantino’s approach reminds me a bit of Frank Miller’s hero comics. What’s great about the Frank Miller Daredevil is that Daredevil is still Daredevil, Matt Murdock Matt Murdock, the Kingpin the Kingpin, and the themes and ideas are left intact. Only, with Miller’s writing, you actually give a shit again. You can feeeel what Matt Murdock is going through. You can feeeel the Kingpin’s evil. I think it was Warhol who said that when you look at anything too long, it loses all meaning. I think great artists are always, either consciously or not, reinventing the old stuff in order to restore meaning (Lucas did the opposite with the Star Wars prequels).
Right out of the gate, you meet Vincent and Jules, two hitmen on their way to do a hit. But somehow the situation seems more emotional than banal Hollywood action. There’s a tension there between these guys’ natural conversation and what you know they are about to do. Then when Vincent drops the bomb, that he is going to take the boss’s wife out on a date, you realize that what you’ve just heard has set up a story, and, like Daredevil in the hands of Frank Miller, this cliche scenario has meaning again. You can feel Vincent’s situation in an almost personal way. You feel it again when he’s getting turned on by Mia, against all likelihood, and again when he’s standing in the bathroom saying, "One drink and that’s it."
Spielberg did the same thing with Jaws and Close Encounters, a monster movie and a UFO movie. More than anything, he made audiences feel it again, and, in that regard (among others), I’ve always seen a link between Spielberg and Tarantino. Both defined a decade. Both established styles that for better or worse became norms. Both are incredibly misinterpreted and poorly emulated. The question of Tarantino’s status as a cult or mainstream director has come up, and I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a director of entertainment. His movies are fun above all else. All the intellectual stuff, the timeshifts and conversations, wouldn’t mean much if Tarantino weren’t telling good old fun stories.
And lastly, attitude is everything. There is a fine line between what Tarantino does and parody. Parody is done out of a certain amount of contempt. For man. For the genre. For the medium. But like Mozart said, genius is all about love, love, love. Nobody loves what he’s doing as much as Tarantino, and it shows.