Pulp Fiction: LA Gangsters
In Mark Fisher's short but brilliant book Capitalist Realism, this great point is made: "One of the easiest ways to grasp the differences between Fordism and post-Fordism is to compare Michael Mann's [Heat] with the gangster movies made by Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese between 1971 and 1990. In Heat, the scores are undertaken not by Families with links to the Old Country, but by rootless crews, in an LA of polished chrome and interchangeable designer kitchens, of featureless freeways and late-night diners... The ghosts of Old Europe that stalked Scorsese and Coppola's streets have been exorcised, buried with the ancient beefs, bad blood, and burning vendettas somewhere beneath the multinational coffee shops."
The same point can also be applied to Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, another Clinton-era gangster film. The rootless, post-Fordist criminals are interchangeable, have shallow relationships with associates, travel in featureless automobiles on featureless freeways, eat at late-night diners, and live in places that have little or no cultural distinction. The social (and even intellectual) wasteland of Pulp Fiction, and one of the most famous terminal points of postmodernism, is, of course, the conversation about "what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France." You could never imagine this kind of discussion, which begins nowhere and ends nowhere, happening between the mobsters in Coppola's films. Also, God, who plays a central role in the Mafia movies, is completely absent in Pulp Fiction. The criminals in Tarantino's world believe in nothing. Central Cinema, Sept 14–18.