Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pulp Fiction on Blu-Ray— Masterfully Stunning

Pulp Fiction hasn’t lost its masterful irony in its new Blu-ray incarnation. If anything, the giddiness Tarantino fuses to the action genre is more appealing in an era of shaky cams and uncertain plot twists. Pulp Fiction defies categorization of any sort. It’s a series of interlocking stories with th occasional radiance of a mysterious glowing briefcase [the contents are never revealed] as we are left to ponder the spiritual element buried beneath… which cleverly allows us to perpetually stay on the ride. The main story involves a pair of chatty thugs doing the bidding of the mysterious Marsellus (Ving Rhames). Vincent and Jules (John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson) wax philosophically and share unexpected opinions in between blood-thirsty assignments. Vincent seems more interested in cultural differences across the pond than doing Marsellus’ dirty work, while Jules has a speech for nearly any occasion. But Vincent gets more than he bargained for when Marsellus asks him to escort his lovely wife (Uma Thurman) on a platonic date.

It goes without saying that Pulp Fiction was a true phenomenon upon its release in 1994. From its fractured narrative structure, to the unpredictable dialogue, to the treasure chest of brilliant performances, there was nothing else like it in theaters at the time. Though its freshness and originality have been dulled somewhat by the scores of imitators that followed, the movie remains bracingly entertaining. That’s the sweet part of the experience. The bitter aftertaste is realizing that writer-director Quentin Tarantino hasn’t come close to touching it in the seventeen years that followed.

The back of the Blu-ray case reads: “Stunning 1080p Transfer Approved by Quentin Tarantino.” The hyperbole proves entirely true, as Pulp Fiction looks extraordinarily great on Blu-ray. This is a considerable improvement over the standard DVD. The picture is razor sharp, with an incredible amount of detail. From the blood streaks in Jules’ car after Marvin is shot, to the individual strands in Travolta’s hairpiece, every aspect of Andrzej Sekua’s vivid cinematography is presented perfectly. Colors are bold and realistic, such as in the Jack Rabbit Slim’s sequence. Pulp Fiction hasn’t looked better since its theatrical release.

There are two new high definition featurettes exclusive to the Blu-ray release. One is a 20-minute discussion between several critics, assessing the movie seventeen years after its release. The other is a 43-minute collection of new interviews with some of the cast members. This is a fun piece, with interesting reflections from John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Eric Stolz, Amanda Plummer, and Rosanna Arquette. Too bad a few more of the key cast members didn’t participate, as it would’ve been great to hear from Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Harvey Keitel. Presented in standard definition, the features from the DVD release have been ported over as well, which include deleted scenes and assorted featurettes. Pulp Fiction on Blu-ray is simply a must-own release for any collector or anyone who has a deeply rooted appreciation for film noir with a graphically dark twist. The movie holds up exceedingly well after all these years, especially with this immaculate high definition presentation.

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