Why Pulp Fiction changed my life

Image

At first, the screen is black. Then the Miramax logo, the old blue one that morphs into gold, fills it. Black again. The words fade on to the screen:

PULP [pulp] n.

1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass or matter.

2. A magazine or book containing lurid subject matter and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper.

– American Heritage Dictionary: New College Edition

Then there are two people in a diner, and the man says,

“Forget it, it’s too risky.”

And so began the experience that would change my life forever.

My infatuation with the cinematic medium began when I was three years old. I remember flashes of ‘90s pop culture like Toy Story, which my mother played for my sister and I on VHS to keep us quiet, Batman: The Animated Series, which I religiously watched with bowls of macaroni and cheese, and The Matrix, which I watched with my father and which inspired me to bend over backwards as I imagined mysterious men in black suits shooting at me in slow motion. Despite these memories, however, none of them wove themselves into the fabric of my personality.

The person to ceaselessly thank for this infatuation is my father, a man who constantly rebels against convention in whatever he does. Many people have asked me how I “matured” so quickly, and I can only attribute it to my father’s parenting style in showing me amazing movies (without checking their MPAA ratings) at an early age. The most amazing one was Pulp Fiction.

Pulp Fiction is insane, whimsical, volatile, endearing, darkly humorous, and a fusion of both the wacky and the beautiful sides of pop culture. Pulp Fiction is pure art–the perfect marriage of sound and visuals. Realizing that Jules and Vincent had come to the same diner that Pumpkin and Honey Bunny were in, at the same time, was an epiphany for me because I realized that movies have the power to immerse one in their universes and then throw one across space and time; the laws of physics don’t bind cinema. I want to have that power in my hands someday: to shock, excite, and upset an audience in a movie theater in my own way.

The most important thing that I’ve learned from Pulp Fiction is that energy is what sets great films apart from good ones—by which I mean using foot-tapping music to create atmosphere within a scene, crafting a story around electrifying characters, and developing moments that elevate the collective consciousness of the audience to a state of near-euphoria. I constantly try to integrate these elements into whatever I write because I often think that they are completely missing from the formulaic rehashes that pervade cinemas today.

After I saw Pulp Fiction, there was no going back. I have my eyes set on a craft, and I’ve been working towards that ever since by writing short scripts and recently working as a script assistant for five months on an independent Hindi film.  Whenever I’m low on creative juice, I just have to remember what a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is in France (a Royale With Cheese) and inspiration replenishes my pursuit of the perfect story, the perfect characters and perfection itself.

‘Confusion’

Confusion
Feeling makes you wanna rip your head apart
Confusion
In a million places, just don't know where to start
Confusion
Your heart's racing, your body's aching, your head's throbbing, you feel like sobbing.
And yet you don't see the light.

Because confusion creates illusions,
That aren't of your choosin,
It's an uphill battle you're always losin,
Makes no difference with age. 

Because confusion is just scribbles on paper,
Scribbles like signatures on subprime loans
Economy isn't my bank account
I just wanted a million dollar home. 

Because confusion is a web of lies and deceit,
Just a bunch of words read off a sheet,
Confusion is corruption on repeat
Confusion is a rush hour street.
Confusion
Feeling makes you wanna rip your head apart
Confusion
In a million places, just don't know where to start
Confusion
Your heart's racing, your body's aching, your head's throbbing, you feel like sobbing.
And yet you don't see the light.

We are born confused, we die confused,
Clarity never stays for long
Even if this was a moment of clarity,
It is what it is, 
Just a lament, just a song.

My Last Couple of Days

This college application essay writing stuff is extremely bugging. They say you need to be yourself and write, but that’s not true. If I did write like how I write on this blog, no college would ever accept me. We all exaggerate ourselves on our applications just to show how cool we are. Of course, we can’t exaggerate too much, like say, I’m Batman! But we can tweak details here and there to suit us. I’m not saying I’ve done that, yet.

The most irritating about these kind of essays is the rewriting phase. You have to keep changing, editing, modifying. In fact, the first draft that you wrote three months ago would be replaced by something that looks nothing like it, for better or worse. It’s a bit discouraging, but its necessary.

Last night I had a weird dream, weird in a good way. It was so weirdly good that I hated getting up this morning because of it. From what I can remember (and this is eight hours after I woke up), there was this girl who I don’t know that well. We’ve spoken a couple of times, but only online. She’s extremely beautiful and smart, so you can see why I would have wanted to talk to her, at least online. Sure, she’s way out of my league, but you can’t blame a guy for trying right? Anyway, this girl, she’s there. And I don’t know how, but she and I are together in this dream, in a relationship. It feels right, being with her in the dream and we talk about stuff that I can’t remember and laugh and enjoy each others’ company. It wasn’t a wet dream, it was a dream that reaffirms everyone’s inner romantic who yearns for the right person to share their love with. Weird.

Anyway, after I woke up, I was checking my mail, still kind of woozy from the dream, when some random girl decides to chat with me. Here’s how that went…

Girl: Hi there… How ru doin today? want to chat 4 a lil bit?? …Im bored and wanted to meet new people :] (At this point I should’ve just ignored this psycho-emo chick. But no, thanks to the dream, I was also open to meeting new people and finding true love.)

Me: uh who are you?

Girl: Cool… Well, my name is Jenni I’m originally from Miami… Can I ask you a question?

me: yeah…

Girl: Which kind of girlz you in to ? r you in to BIG TITS or a HUGE ASS?? ;]

me: great, a spammer

this is new

Girl: ;p hard q, huh? :P want to see???i’ve got a couple free mins…

me: haha no thanks

And so I decided to take the high road and block this girl who was offering to take her clothes off for me. First time that’s happened.

 

I saw Looper yesterday. I have to see it again before I can post my thoughts on it, it’s that cerebral. Today I found out that my sister has 81 followers on twitter, but she refuses to show me her twitter page. I wonder what she tweets about…she seems to be a big Christina Aguilera and Revenge fan (yuck) and I haven’t known her to be an intellectually stimulating writer. I guess that’s the opposite of what Twitter expects. I have 5 followers on Twitter now. ‘Tis a damn shame. I should probably blog about my new job now.

 

I got an internship at a startup called Classle. Their service is pretty cool, conceptually. It purports to be a social learning platform that uses gamification to engage its users. In reality, its a very watered down version of what immediately springs to mind by that description because the user interface is pretty backward i.e. facebook in 2003. But they’re getting there. My job is to incorporate the gamification elements in the site and do creative stuff. I’m working with two other friends of mine and we seem to make a pretty good team. Our first assignment, which isn’t over yet, was to design a corporate video that they could use to show potential users at various colleges and to post on their homepage so that it doesn’t look as bad as it does now (my idea!). We finished the script in a week and did some storyboards to show them the look of the video, which we modeled on duolingo’s homepage video (pretty fantastic, go check it out). The only problem with our plan was that they don’t know anyone who can animate the video for free and are asking us to find people to do it. We agreed to do the voice over for it, but it seems that startups don’t have a lot of resources (Ya think?!). The creative stuff has been pretty creative and I’ve been doing the lion’s share because my friends go to college and I don’t (Freedom!).

 

I saw Magic Mike today and it was pretty goddamn awesome in a Soderbergh kind of way. His year has been pretty productive: Contagion, Haywire and Magic Mike. After The Bitter Pill and Liberace, he says he’s quitting the big screen and possibly go to television. That’s bittersweet news for me because Soderbergh is definitely one of my idols when it comes to pacing, editing and color tones for films. Most of his films are crafted in the editing room and he’s proud of that fact. Magic Mike is all about the world of male stripping, and yet ultimately it’s about how change is tough for all of us, even those of us that have big dreams that we tell people about. It’s also an excellent example of how you can close digital is coming to film, but it’s not quite at that point. Maybe in the next 20 years, we will have no more celluloid films.

 

I’m using my blog as more of a vent tool with this post because the bulk of my writing these days is going into the essays, so I find myself drained of the need to blog. Once in a while however, I get drained of the essay stuff so I will constantly post. Twitter is appealing to me only for the fact that I can possibly communicate with rockstars like Rian Johnson and James Franco. Let’s see.

 

Looper Fever

I just can’t wait for the most original film of this year. The 12 Monkeys of my generation. Every sci-fi geek’s dream movie. Looper.

Looper is set in a time where time travel has not yet invented, but will be, but only by the black market. The Mob sends back people they want murdered through time to the present, where Loopers do the job and dispose of the bodies. One such Looper is Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and he does his job efficiently. But one day, he’s assigned to kill someone he never thought he had to: himself. Or Old Joe (Bruce Willis).

Read that synopsis a hundred times and you’ll never tire of it. It’s so cool, so potentially fantastic. And completely original. I mean, yeah, it has its influences, but in this world of franchises based on action figures (see Transformers) and board games (see Ouija), it is a breath of fresh air. Here’s what I know about Looper so far:

  1. It’s directed by Rian Johnson, director of Brick and The Brothers Bloom (two great movies, but not fantastically awesome like Looper should be).
  2. It stars the above two Joes, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels (fun fact: Daniels and Levitt are reunited from The Lookout, a 2007 heist flick where they played disabled people).
  3. This is Bruce Willis’ second time travel movie after 12 Monkeys (and he was bald in that too, so much for aging with time).
  4. It’s a $30 million co-production with China, which is why Looper is primarily set in Shanghai, I think (I’m writing all this from memory because I’ve had enough almost spoilers). Johnson originally set the story in Paris, because Joe’s arc is totally borrowed from Rick in Casablanca, but because he got the co-production, he changed the location, making it more in line with Blade Runner than anything else.
  5. The present of Looper is our future: 2042. So Old Joe comes from 2072. There are futuristic evolutionary specialities in some people, like TeleKinesis (TK) and something to do with eye drops.
  6. It’s rated 93% on Rotten Tomatoes.
  7. The score by Nathan Johnson (Rian’s cousin) was primarily done with field recordings of industrial fans, car door slams, Gatling gun sounds (one character in the movie, Kid Blue, uses it) and other unique sounds because Nathan hates perfect music in film scores. See: Day in the Life
  8. Joseph Gordon-Levitt needed 3 hours of make up everyday to look like a younger Bruce Willis. One day his mother was looking for him and couldn’t recognize the man who appeared in front of her.
  9. Emily Blunt is said to be a single mother who has her own farm, and Old Joe hides from Joe over there.
  10. Here’s a funny video of Rian Johnson introducing a midnight screening of Looper at the Arclight Theatre under the guise of an employee over there.
  11. Rian Johnson says that the films that greatly influenced Looper were The Terminator and Witness.
  12. There’s some great Looper art out there on the tumblr page, as well as fan art all over the web. Not a fact about the movie, but needs to be mentioned because it’s so cool.

I’m catching Looper on Oct 12, first show, and I shall write about it soon. Can’t wait!

Analysis of an Ad

Advertisements are known to manipulate emotions of people so that they can project the product they’re selling as a need for people. But advertisements, in my opinion, can also influence culture around us. I recently saw an ad that made me fear its impact on children who watch it and also about what kind of values it propagates. Check it out:

Renault Ad

That’s the new ad for the Renault Scala in India. What strikes me as odd and repulsive is the behavior that Renault is encouraging subtly through this video: suck up to those rich friends of yours and reap the benefits. What happened to the whole idea of choosing your friends not because of their background but because of their personality? And the flip side of this stance in the ad is that the rich kid can buy friends with the money he has, encouraging negative behavior from people who can afford it. The moral behind this ad can be expanded to a bigger context, where the rich can get whatever they want done through money, leading to bribes, extortion and corruption of the system. Essentially, Renault is saying that all that is okay. Is this the culture that we live in today, where we accept these values simply because we can’t change them? Doesn’t anyone think that kids of the same age group as the ones depicted in the ad will be influenced by their actions?

This is just an observation of the new low that Renault has fallen into in an attempt to make more money. Shame on you, Renault. Tell me what you think in the comments, people.