Until last week, I had a secret. Despite my love for film, high regard for Django Unchained, and admiring account of Quentin Tarantino at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, I hadn't seen Pulp Fiction. The problem? Universal acclaim scares me. There's little upside to writing about a classic movie everyone likes. Praise it, and your review lacks originality. Trash it, and you become the cynical curmudgeon groping for attention. [Editor's note: we tried to convince Ben that watching a classic film might have other benefits, like informing his understanding of movie history, or broadening his overall perspective on American cinema. His response: "Just spellcheck the post please."] So instead of a Roger Ebert-style review, here are five things I learned about Quentin Tarantino while watching Pulp Fiction. *moderate spoilers follow*
There's disappointment, there's crushing disappointment, and then there's M. Night Shyamalan. Blessed with uniquely off-kilter vision and rare minimalist sensibilities, the writer-director somehow squandered his gifts and became the biggest cinematic letdown of the last decade. Only Cuba Gooding Jr. (last film: One in the Chamber) rivals the steepness of his descent.
There's not much nice to say about After Earth, the latest M. Night Shyamalan stinker that apparently stars Will Smith. Still, the film deserves some praise for making three things abundantly clear.
1) Danger is real.
2) Fear is a choice.
3) Jaden Smith is a terrible actor.