There was a time, back in 1994 when Pulp Fiction came out, when I just couldn’t shut up about Quentin Tarantino. In a fit of movie giddiness, I had seen Pulp Fiction on the big screen maybe three times the month it opened; I owned the Faber & Faber editions of his screenplays; I had the posters on the wall; I had memorized the entire “dick dick dick dick dick dick dick” monologue — easy to do, since I owned the soundtracks both on cassette and CD. I owned Reservoir Dogs (1992) on VHS, DVD, HD-DVD (a Belgian import), and Blu-Ray. Even now, I can still tell you when I saw his films, which theaters I saw them in, and who I saw them with. One year my ex and I even dressed up as Vincent and Mia for Halloween.
You might say, correctly, that I was smitten. I loved his films’ explosive profanity, their bursts of violence, the way the narrative swung back and forth with flashbacks within flashbacks, the way Uma Thurman draws a square in the air, the way Tim Roth picks up his wedding ring and hesitates. But people were celebrating Tarantino for being a bad boy and breaking the rules long before I had any conception of what those rules were. Such Paulettesque movie-love, prior to my picking up all the other cinematic references, real or imagined, in Tarantino’s films. Before I knew better, one might say, but that would be going too far.
All this, as the reader would have figured out by now, is a preamble to a confession of inevitable disappointment. I’ve seen and re-watched all his other films, of course, and all those stylistic flourishes which I once found cool — thrown in just because, even if they go nowhere — I now found gimmicky and distracting, even irritating. But unlike in a real-life amorous relationship — where you used to love the way she used to tuck her hair behind her ear, before it started unaccountably getting on your nerves — Pulp Fiction didn’t change; I did. “It’s not you; it’s me.”