As if having to deal with the impenetrable whinings of film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum weren’t enough, now we have filmgoers like Harris Meyer (December 2 Letters), crying about Rosenbaum?! Give me a break. Why anybody in their right mind would go to a movie, hoping for a “postmodernist cinematic breakthrough” is completely beyond me. Movies are entertainment. Period. Any other self-important film school dithering is pointless. You pays your $7.50, you takes your chances. If you didn’t like it, for whatever reason, so what? Film critics aren’t God, and great movies slip through the cracks every week. But gee whiz, knock off the crying.
A big reason Roger Ebert is one of the best movie critics extant is that he recognizes that films are entertainment. Escapist bits of fun, perfect for whiling away an evening.
When Rosenbaum calls Pulp Fiction “flamboyant surface,” he and Mr. Meyer should realize that almost every damn film made is! There aren’t any big messages, or life-changing revelations. It’s just a bunch of pictures, put together for the enjoyment of the audience. Some are great, some suck, but hey, that’s how life is. Deal with it.
I reckon films that aren’t mere entertainment play at the Music Box, so that cognoscenti can sit through some three-hour, subtitled bit of repressed Euro-filmmaking, then dissect it afterwards.
Pulp Fiction was one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in many years, full of great moments and little details. I howled with laughter during the Marvin-gets-shot-in-the-face bit, and the Christopher Walken speech about the watch was hysterical. This movie was exciting, the dialogue was fantastic, even the music killed. It was organized, quite coherent, and the way that Tarantino played with time was delightful. To call this film, as Mr. Meyer did, a “cynical fraud on an already violence-besotted public” is one of the dumbest criticisms I have ever heard. Had he watched carefully, he would have seen that the violence in the movie was not the point of the film, but purely incidental, just something that happened to the character. The characters lived in a violent world, and sometimes, violent things happened to them.
Mr. Meyer hopes that people who see this film will be more discerning than Mr. Rosenbaum, and not succumb to trendiness. He has the first half of his wish. That’s why the success of Pulp Fiction, and for that matter, Reservoir Dogs and True Romance, the other Tarantino flicks, have as much to do with word of mouth as any critical meanderings.
Films are subjective, so everybody has the right to like or dislike anything they choose. But don’t rag because you took some mope’s advice and didn’t like something. That’s why we have minds . . . to use. And please, don’t follow Mr. Meyer’s advice. Encourage your friends to see Pulp Fiction, so they can make up their own minds. After all, that’s why there’s Chocolate and Vanilla.