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Rewatching Pulp Fiction almost twenty years after its release, it’s hard to deny that, for a long moment, Quentin Tarantino was brilliant. I often get into debates about his recent work, usually as the person ready throw his newer films to the dogs. But when I meet the rabid fans, who cannot see any flaw in Inglourious Basterds, for example, it would do me good to remember just how persuasive Pulp Fiction is, and that some fanaticism should be expected.

Tarantino’s former brilliance still does appear from time to time in his recent films, but I’m not sure it’s ever more apparent than in Pulp Fiction. It’s here where he first shows his incredible patience with a scene, letting characters and scenarios unfold at a pace that is just this side of too long, so that when something finally happens, it feels earned. It’s here where he shows his ability to get something out of great actors that we never see from them elsewhere: Samuel Jackson and Uma Thurman have never out-performed their roles and they likely never will. (On this last point, we have to wonder if Christophe Waltz hasn’t already found himself deep in that curse, of having already played his one luminous role, forever to be respected and admired for it, but never again to reach that pinnacle.) And it’s here where he revealed his ability to make seemingly meaningless dialogue somehow be a part of the fabric of the film.

Too bad he’s even more convinced of his brilliance than his fans. I only wish, for Pulp Fiction’s twentieth anniversary, that Tarantino might finally find an editor to work with, someone to say “no,” and deny him some of his indulgences. Someone should have told him, “No, don’t release Death Proof, it’s terrible.” Oh well.

I also thought Django was pretty lame, for the record.

Happily, when the new stuff gets me down, I can still go back to Christopher Walken’s monologue on the gold watch. And Uma Thurman doing the twist. And Samuel Jackson eating a cheeseburger.

And and and.

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