Tag: Bruce Willis

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #94. Pulp Fiction (1994)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
True Romance was an amazing debut from a new screenwriter who introduced a new style of wordy, pop culture obsessed dialogue and story telling that was as inspired by high brow, classic cinema, as it was by 70s schlock, as it was by modern day blockbusters. Reservoir Dogs showed that the writer of True Romance had a visual style to back up the words on his pages. But as amazing as that one-two punch introduction was, Quentin Tarantino didn’t declare himself as Hollywood’s newest, loudest, most stylistic voice, until Pulp Fiction.

Fresh off the plane from Amsterdam, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is on his way to conduct some gangster style business with Jules (Samuel L Jackson). Retrieving a briefcase from some young criminals for their boss Marsellus (Michael Clarke Duncan), Jules and Vincent end up with a headless dead body in the backseat of their car.

But Vincent has a bigger problem. He has to entertain Marsellus’ wife while his boss is out of town. With a fresh story of a man being thrown out of a window due to the jealousy of Marsellus, Vincent approaches the night with some trepidation. When he meets the wife, Uma Thurman as Mia, there’s an instant chemistry between the two that leads to $5 milkshakes and a late night overdose.

Meanwhile, boxer Butch (Bruce Willis) is being paid by Marcellus to throw a fight. A deal he breaks in the hopes of making one big score by betting on himself, before leaving town to start fresh. Once again, Vince is dragged into the situation, once again, things don’t go so well.

Pulp fiction is a movie that I always think is great, but not the mind blower its reputation would have you believe. Then every four or five years I watch it again, and wonder why I never give it the credit it deserves as a mind blower. Even 20 years later, the dialogue is as sharp and kinetic as ever. For a movie so reliant on references and pop culture allusions, I can’t believe how effectively Pulp Fiction refuses to seem dated.

Visually, Tarantino set a new standard that was copied incessantly for a lot of years after, that almost no one could ever emulate in any effective way. And again, I was surprised about how well it holds up. Actually, ‘holds up’ doesn’t do the look of Pulp Fiction justice. Usually when something this ground breaking happens, the unavoidable cheap imitations take some of the shine of the original. Here, it made me appreciate Tarantino’s eye even more.

I like the Tarantino movies that have come since Pulp Fiction (except Death Proof, possibly the biggest wast of movie watching time in my life), but I sometimes think the style is hiding a little lack of substance. Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are great looking, well written, expertly acted movies, but they seem like movies that know they’re movies. With Pulp Fiction, Tarantino made this amazingly hyper world, but the people living in it seem like real people, really living in it. In a few months, I’ll probably start to think it’s a little over rated again, but right now, I’m already looking forward to that next viewing in four or five years when it blows me away all over again.

Pulp Fiction
Directed By – Quentin Tarantino
Written By – Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary

Academy Awards
Best Picture (nominated, lost to Forrest Gump)
Best Director (Tarantino nominated, lost to Robert Zemeckis for Forrest Gump)
Best Actor (Travolta nominated, lost to Tom Hanks for Forrest Gump)
Best Supporting Actor (Jackson nominated, lost to Martin Landau for Ed Wood)
Best Supporting Actress (Thurman nominated, lost to Dianne Wiest for Bullets Over Broadway)
Best Original Screenplay – Tarantino and Avery  

MOVIE REVIEW | Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)


“Death is just like life in Sin City. It always wins.”

Nine years ago, director Robert Rodriguez did what Robert Rodriguez does best.  He took a super schlocky, super B grade, super exploitationy all story, and he turned into ground breaking, rule breaking cool that didn’t just ignore its lack of substance, it embraced it. That movie was Sin City, based on the comic book series of the same name by Frank Miller.  Using the comics as story boards, Rodriguez even gave Miller a co-director credit.

Nine years is a long time between drinks.  Long enough for the shine of that ground breaking, rule breaking cool to have well and truly worn off.  Which is why all those same tricks seem kind of boring in Sin City: A Dame to a Kill For. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***A.V WEEK*** Purple Rain (1984)

Wow, who would have thought when the guy famous for wearing blouses and high heels made a movie, it would be such a vanity project?  Who would have thought the dude who once changed his name to a symbol, then got angry when people wouldn’t call him by it, would star in a movie that’s basically just a two hour figurative hand job?  But the one that really surprised me?  I never in a million years would have thought  I’d sit through a movie as bad, as boring and as outright terrible, as Purple Rain?

Prince plays The Kid (more on that choice of character name later), the leader of an up and coming band called The Revolution.  They have a residency at a local club where they open for The Time, an amazing band fronted by Morris Day, and his valet / lapdog, Jerome.  A new girl named Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero) hits town looking for work as singer and dancer.  The Kid and Morris both start looking for work in her pants.

There’s a hacky rivalry story between bands, a super hacky story about The Kid’s home life and abusive father, and it all basically comes down to a battle of the bands.  Seriously.  A battle of the bands works in something light and goofy like Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.  But it kind of lacks the importance needed for a climax in a movie that’s attempting be as serious as Purple Rain.

Is this the most misogynistic move ever?  Find a non-porno that tops this, and I’d be impressed.  While courting Apollonia, Prince takes her to the middle of nowhere in his motorbike, convinces her to strip almost naked and jump in a scummy river.  Then he rides off without her…  AND SHE LAUGHS!!!  Sure, he comes back to get her, but before she knows that he will, she laughs like it’s the cutest prank she ever did see.  Also, this happens the first time they hang out together.

He also physically assaults her twice.  Maybe you could argue the first time is to set up the redemption arc his story will follow.  But the second time, he shoves his hand in her face, pushing her to the ground.  When he goes to punch her but decides not to, I think the film makers thought this was a genuine sign of how much the character had grown.  Because, you know, he didn’t punch in the face.  BUT HE’D ALREADY SHOVED HER TO GROUND WITH A HAND TO THE FACE!

And the sex scene between The Kid and Apollonia is just bizarre.  I’d say it has absolutely nothing to do with these characters surrendering themselves to their love for each other, and everything to do with Prince wanting to all-but finger blast a hot chick…  On film, so every one could see it on the big screen.

There are two female members of The Revolution who have a song they keep asking The Kid to add to their set.  While itl’s an OK song when it was just written by two broads, it doesn’t become a great song until The Kid adds to it so it can become Purple Rain.  Even the closest things to confident women in this movie don’t get to succeed until a man steps in to help them.

Purple Rain doesn’t have a single good guy.  If Prince’s The Kid is the hero, it’s only because he’s slightly less shit than several people around him.  But only slightly.  Also, I guess the bad guy is Morris Day, but the movie makes his band so much more entertaining than The Revolution, that I don’t care how much of an asshole he is off stage, I would rather watch The Time play live any day.

And really, The Kid?  Prince was 26 when he made this.  Isn’t that a little too old to be calling someone a kid?  Incidentally, this movie held the award for most egregious use of the character name “The Kid” until 2006, when it was trumped by the Bruce Willis shit bomb,16 Blocks.  This time, it was the 33 year old Mos Def who took up the completely inaccurate moniker.

I can’t think of a single reason to recommend anyone watch this movie, ever.  The only good parts are the music.  And for that, you can just listen to the soundtrack.  I was gonna say the best thing about this movie was that it must have been a flop and killed Prince’s movie career.  But after a quick google, I was devastated to find out it made $80million.  And, he went on to star in, and direct two more feature films!  At least I’d never heard of them until now, and will be doing my best to forget their existence as quickly as possible.

Purple Rain
Directed By – Albert Magnoli
Written By – William Blinn, Albert Magnoli