When I first saw Pulp Fiction years ago it didn't make much of an impression on me. For one thing, the movie is hard to follow, as there are 3 or 4 different stories (depending on how you count them) going on simultaneously. What's more, the movie jumps around in time as well as back and forth between the stories.
Because I like Jackie Brown so much, I decided to give Pulp Fiction another try. Thanks to the good folks at Netflix, I was able to do that this week, and now I understand it for the great movie it is (#5 all-time on IMDB). The stories do all come together in the end. This is one of those films, like "The Usual Suspects", that you can see 20 times and notice something different each time. In fact, even more so with Pulp Fiction.
As for the mystery of what is in the briefcase, we are never told and Tarantino says it is whatever the viewer wants it to be. This is in line with another quote from him, that "If a million different people see my movie, I hope they see a million different films."
A last thought: one of the supporting characters, Harvey Keitel, gives as good a performance as you will ever see in the movies. He is absolutely wonderful.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the movie:
Vincent: "I ain't saying it's right. But you're saying a foot massage don't mean nothing, and I'm saying it does. Now look, I've given a million ladies a million foot massages, and they all meant something. We act like they don't, but they do, and that's what's so cool about them. There's a sensuous thing going on where you don't talk about it, but you know it, she knows it, Marsellus knew it, and Antwan should have known better. I mean, that's his wife, man. He can't be expected to have a sense of humor about that. You know what I'm saying?"
Jules: "The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee." (Misquoting Ezekiel 25: 17)
Captain Koons: "The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He'd be damned if any slopes gonna put their greasy yellow hands on his boy's birthright, so he hid it, in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch to you."
The Wolf: "Just because you are a character doesn't mean that you have character."
Mia: "Don't you just love it when you come back from the bathroom and find your food waiting for you?"
Fabienne: "It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same." (Explaining why she thinks women's pot bellies are sexy.)