DOWSE guide to the movies                                                                                         

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  Book Review


DOWSE Guide to the Movies
by Tony Lee editor of Pigasus Press

BFI Modern Classics: Pulp Fiction

Dana Polan
BFI Publishing chapbook, 95 pages 7.99
review by Tony Lee

An offbeat overview of a fascinatingly phenomenal movie, Dana Polan's book tackles issues of celebrity worship inspired by Hollywood outsider Quentin Tarantino, and alleges it's impossible to find any kind of traditional movie-message in the writer and director's most successful film.
 From an examination of Tarantino's widespread idolisation on many hopelessly devotional websites, to the film's tangential relationship to postmodernism (a relationship Tarantino seems uneasy with), Polan charts the origins of urban myths behind the man, while searching for any convincing explanations for the - largely masculine - appeal of Pulp Fiction. Of the director as heroic icon, Polan's text suggests that Tarantino represents not only cultism incarnate within a high church of cool, but also that he is more than just a media and pop culture literate talent and limelight junkie. Of Tarantino and Pulp Fiction on the Internet, Polan states:
   "...we might well want to make some correlations between
   the style and structure of the film and a visual literacy that
   is particular to the cyber-moment of our technologically
   inflected modernity. If you understand mouse-clicks and
   web-links and hypertext, you're in the same structural
   mindset as Pulp Fiction, with its disjunctions, its loops
   of narrative, its dramatic shifts of tone and image." (pg.37, 2nd para.)
The surface brilliance of Pulp Fiction is unquestionable, of course, and Polan has few doubts about the importance of Tarantino's achievement with this immensely popular and entertaining black comedy drama. But, thankfully, I did detect a note of caution in the author's considered estimation of Tarantino's (so-far) brief career which takes great care to register the underexposed facts buried in the astonishing work of fiction.

Tony Lee

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