Tarantino on the hill

July 11, 2021 by Lucian Mogosanu

This weekend, the happy party1 went on a temporary escape from the scorching hot2 urban wasteland to... a hill.

The hill in question, located at a stone's throw from Bucharest, is owned by a small family business consisting of a few folks who bought some tents, some tables, chairs and umbrellas, an "eco" toilet and a sink and turned all these into a camping place of sorts. Moreover, the folks decided to put in the work of cooking and cleaning, which, for all its frugality, proved to be a more pleasant experience than most hipstery eateries in town. The lodging experience in particular is, I expect, still better than some places in town, on account of the lack of smoking exhaust pipes at each and every step. The gang disagrees with me on this point, so I suppose I've just been starving for that old countryside experience (I come from a family of peasants, after all), including those annoying mosquitoes so typical of the southern Romanian plains. Life hasn't really changed all that much around those places in the last few millenia: on a hot summer, Joe wakes up at probably three in the morning, so by five he's sitting by the lake fishing in a setting of complete silence and tranquility; then, when the fruits of the Earth are ripe, the same Joe will have gathered them by daylight, so there's nothing much to do during the day but feed the animals and enjoy the views from beneath the ripening walnut3.

So I suppose the locals must get somewhat amused watching these townsfolk with their fancy cars escaping to the old country for a couple of nights to sex, sleep, eat, drink, dream and... watch movies. I haven't asked them, to be honest, but as far as I'm concerned, and as the previous paragraph and the second footnote clearly explain, I wasn't just there to review Pulp Fiction for the nth time as much as I went there to watch a movie in the silence of the countryside, beneath the starlit sky with a bunch of dogs in the distance breaking the silence now and then. And I don't know, it could have been the dogs or the starlit sky, or maybe it was indeed the fact that I was watching this beautiful monster of an artistic creation for the nth time, or it could have been all of these together, but...

Unexpectedly, of all the facets that could leave an impression on me, this time I didn't see all that much in Tarantino's west-side retelling of a Rahovian story4; nor do I think much of Bonnie (Plummer) and Clyde (Roth), nor of the caragialesque Wolfe (Keitel) plot device; nor did I see much in Butch's (Willis) story, although Walken's approach to the messenger's role did stir a good laugh; nor did the familiarity with all the memes cause anything there to move. Yet something did move while observing the metaphysical revelations of Winnfield (Jackson). Whether the viewer can relate or not to what our hero has seen is not relevant here; regardless, he got a glimpse, one which moved him in the sense that what would previously stir an obvious action now stirred a thought, which thought led to a choice to be acted upon in full knowledge and conscience, which itself constitutes the very essence of agency. The Jules before, then, and the one after, are two entirely different people, which in retrospect, and despite all the comedy involved, makes the cocksucker-shooting-bullets-nowhere-in-particular scene all the more meaningful to me in this nth review of the movie under the starry sky, in its utter, nude shallowness, completely unexpectedly.

Or, in much fewer words: the theological ramblings conceived by some obnoxious white dude from Tennessee doing movies in the '90s are in these dark times more relevant than any postmodern scientism. Fancy that!


  1. Or shall we rather deem it a small gang? Either way, dey up to no good, believe you me. 

  2. Don't you just love when I do these, by the way? June was cold and rainy, like Junes tend (?!) to be, only meanwhile the beautiful cherry blossoms went away, to be replaced by the hot ovens of July -- yes, precisely mirroring the traditional Romanian labels, "cireșar" for the former and "cuptor" for the latter. In fact, this recurrence is a few orders of magnitude older than even this old calendar, which I suppose makes mine a shallow observation at most.

    For one, I wholeheartedly agree with the Lynchian approach of relaying information not just despite, but because of its shallowness; while for the other, I see -- precisely like the man does, although I'm no him -- and fully enjoy the personal depths and implications of these mere observations. Eight years from now, upon rereading this text, "the heat of July" will evoke the sounds, the smells and images, all these and many other marks carefully imprinted upon my mind yesterday and the day before, slowly eroded by the passage of time, yet carefully conserved by this short passage from my blog.

    Anyway, I surely hope you love it when I do these, I just wanted you to know it wasn't intentional. 

  3. Or how did that verse go:

    - La umbra nucului bătrân...
    - Mănânci căcat, că e salcâm. 

  4. Perhaps you don't see it, but I truly believe each and every turn of phrase in this movie, and perhaps most of Tarantino's early movies, could be retold in Romanian, in the vernacular of Rahova and Ferentari. Sure, perhaps not with a shotgun, but the katanas are all there; what can I say, you had to be there to see the Gypsies jumping at each other's throats.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that Pulp Fiction is just another retelling of the same old story from the hood, with symbols depicted in Tarantino's fashion and vocabulary, but otherwise just the same as any other story from the hood. Which is precisely why I didn't find it too interesting this time. 

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