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Pulp Diction

October 23, 1994

Stanley Crouch's masterful "Pulp Friction" (Film Comment, Oct. 16) further validates the MacArthur Foundation's wisdom in acknowledging this world citizen's contributions to art and understanding.

What begins as a literate and informative en carriere review of Quentin Tarantino's movies quickly becomes an enlightening essay in American social philosophy, superior in clarity and understanding.

Crouch's analysis furthers our understanding of what he calls "ethnic complexity," the blurring and marbling of white and black. In the theater, the staccato assault of Tarantino's images often overwhelms our ability to process the images as ideas and comprehend why they are so powerful. Replaying on tape, stopping or slowing the camera, we can only hope to better observe how Tarantino crafts his images. It is Crouch who assembles and explains them.

Rarely does a work of criticism become, itself, a work of art--moving from a secondary source to a primary source. Stanley Crouch has done this.


San Diego

Though I am second-to-none in my appreciation of Quentin Tarantino, I believe that Stanley Crouch has embarked on serious over-interpretation of the man's work.

Even though two characters remark that "something is rotten in Denmark," "True Romance" is not "an ingenious variation on 'Hamlet.' " Hamlet spends most of the play occupied with retribution for his father's murder; the play is a revenge tragedy. Clarence in "True Romance" spends most of the film trying to make a big score with the stolen dope; he is unaware of, or unconcerned with, his father's murder. The film is a caper farce.

Tarantino's work does not really function as coherent--or even incoherent--social commentary; it is the super-groovy triumph of style over content. As someone once remarked--I think it was Rudy Ray Moore in "Dolemite"--it is a tale told by an idiot savant, full of sound and fury, signifying who-knows-what.


Santa Monica

Stanley Crouch's essay is at once a journalistic coup de force and a defecatory treatise of superb indicatory knowledgeability reminding of the energy of poetic brilliance that defined one aspect of British sonnets between the chaos of Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare.

Albeit certain grammatic ellipses were noticed, but this surely foists upon the editorialism staff of the L.A. Times rather in no way indicates a predilection for eloquent meaninglessness as cover under which pulp fiction emerges. Being a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient is Crouch almost with intelligence, as is Quentin Tarantino.

We can all rest soundly and peace knowing that the future of American filmmaking is in capabilistic hands, as are its truly gifted reviewers.



Pacific Palisades

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