This is Quentin Tarantino’s best film.
It is no contest. Pulp Fiction was wildly unique when it first premiered at Cannes in the 90s, and it remains wildly unique to this day. Many films have tried to replicate its structure and its aesthetic, but it always felt inauthentic when stacked against Pulp Fiction itself.
One of the biggest criticism of Tarantino’s trademark style is that he takes elements from earlier films, and that his “style,” while bombastic, shouldn’t be praised for being “unique.”
The line between inspiration and theft in art is often subjective and murky, but Tarantino has created, with this inspiration, something unique. Whether it’s Kurosawa or French new wave films, not only has Tarantino shaped something unique, but also timely.
As Hollywood became more and more consolidated and corporate in the 90s we began seeing a lot of excessive film marketing. This was the beginning of the separation between the “popular” film and the “good” film.
Here you have a young, and already accomplished filmmaker (he was well-received directing Reservoir Dogs) trusted with a, fairly solid, budget and a triple A cast, to make an unconventional film.
I remember Siskel and Ebert raving about it on At the Movies, and I remember how, from its debut on, Tarantino-ism became popularized. However his brand would only keep growing from this solid foundation.