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Non-Review Review: Pulp Fiction

It’s strange. I always feel a flutter of uncertainty when I prepare to tackle a film I hold in particularly high esteem on this blog. Perhaps it’s the fact that I worry I might not be entirely objective, or perhaps it’s the fear that I’ll embarrass myself with a particular film, or perhaps it’s just the worry that I really don’t have anything worth committing to the internet. Pulp Fiction is a film that has been loved and hated, picked apart and put back together, critiqued and venerated, and I’m really not sure that I have any particularly insightful observations to make about Quentin Tarantino’s palme d’or winning film.

I'll be brief...

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Non-Review Review: Ronin

Ronin is the perfect example of a movie that knows exactly what it is. It’s a high-octane thriller which bends and curves and uncertainties and all manner of similar complications. There’s no tangential elements to the plot, like an awkwardly-inserted love-story or an attempt to humanise any of the people involved. It’s just a well-made thriller with fantastic locations and wonderfully-staged action. At one stage, the grizzled French mercenary Vincent remarks, “No questions, no answers. That’s the business we’re in.” It’s refreshing and honest, and frank.

DeNiro's the big gun here...

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Non-Review Review: Redbelt

You have to admit that the premise, at least, is intriguing. Maybe the execution is less so, but the basic premise (a martial arts movie directed by maestro wordsmith David Mamet) deserves at least a little consideration. In fairness, the movie plays its cards pretty well. It’s populated with kind of deceit and self-deceit which we have come to expect from the characters which Mamet presents to us on a regular basis. It’s a grim and dark and seedy world, even underneath those bright lights. The problem is that the movie’s core appeal (articulated in its title, premise and marketing) of a martial arts movie simply cannot deliver in that environment. These two facets of the movie lock themselves in mortal combat like two prize fighters in the ring: Mamet’s cynicism and human drama facing off against the requisite showiness and razzle-dazzle of martial arts. At one point a character suggests that the money is in a draw (since a rematch is a huge moneyspinner), and maybe that’s why we get no winner here. We don’t even get an entertaining struggle.

The blows come as quick as the dialogue and are almost as sharp...

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