Dear Letters to the Editor:
Jonathan Rosenbaum owes me and a lot of other people $7.50 for an incredibly bad steer in his "Critic's Choice" capsule review of Pulp Fiction [October 14].
I should have known better than to see Pulp Fiction after I read Jonathan's strained effort to find meaning in a movie he admitted was purely "flamboyant surface." But I thought perhaps the writer/director Quentin Tarantino had surpassed his previous surface-thrills films like Reservoir Dogs and achieved some type of postmodernist cinematic breakthrough, as your critic's review and the Cannes film festival prize suggested.
What I saw instead in the two hours before I walked out in disgust was a disorganized mess of unmotivated hyper-violence, flip nihilism, and narrative incompetence--without one iota of the meaning equally violent films by Martin Scorsese and Sam Peckinpah have expressed. My friends and I had no sense that reflecting on this film afterward would yield any rewards. I viewed Pulp Fiction as a cynical fraud on an already violence- besotted public.
Jonathan generally is very good about going against the critical tide and separating quality from mere trendiness. But here he (and many other critics) got bamboozled. Perhaps in a desire to seem youthfully hip and to "understand" Tarantino, he twisted himself into a pretzel to find something redeeming in Pulp Fiction. That's clear from his statement that the movie "should be a wet dream for 14-year-old closet queens (or, perhaps more accurately, the 14-year-old closet queen in all of us)." What the hell does that mean?
I hope people who see this film will be more clear-eyed critics than Jonathan. Don't succumb to trendiness. Discourage your friends from joining the throngs queuing up for this film. Don't reward Hollywood for turning out contemptible dreck.