April 18th, 2004 | Published in Uncategorized
Alison’s visiting folks babysat while Al and I went to the
movies last night. We went to see Kill Bill Volume II after a
little debate, mainly centering on which of our many choices would be
best on the big screen. As much as I
the first one, you’d think I wouldn’t bother. I think it comes down
to my feelings of being locked in a struggle to understand Quentin
Tarantino. To recap:
Reservoir Dogs got my attention.
Pulp Fiction was entertaining and good, but people seem muddled
about why it mattered ten years later
- Jackie Brown gave me real hope that Tarantino could reveal a
flicker of human emotion beyond malice, fear, or “cool.”
Then came Kill Bill and I was really disappointed, because
there just wasn’t any humanity in that movie. Nothing in there at
all. Worse, for as much as it appeared to want to be an homage to
Hong Kong, it seemed stuck in the Sonny Chiba mode of goresploitation,
which seemed appropriate considering Sonny Chiba had a big role.
The second volume is so much better that it makes the first make its
own sense. There are a lot of arguments to be made for a little more
editing discipline in the combined effort, and the final reel managed
to really drag on when it could have been tightened down, but I got
some stuff I was really hoping for in the first:
- People acting like humans with human emotions. Much more nuance all
around. Much more dramatic tension.
- A “99 tortures of hell” sequence that came much closer to living up
to the tradition. The entire Pai Mei flashback was an awesome
tribute to the Shaw Bros. era of Hong Kong film, right down to the
hyper camera work.
- A better stable of adversaries.
I feel like going to see that movie was like tempting Tarantino to
spoil the one movie night out we’ve had since December, but the
reviews from enough people were good enough, and the visual quality of
the first high enough, that it seemed worth the gamble. I think it
was. Tarantino managed to merge the pulp nihilism of his first two
films with the human warmth of Jackie Brown to come up with
something good. Too bad the first volume was so troubled on its own.
A hint of what we got in the second would have had me anticipating the
release of this one like few other movies I’ve seen in the last year.
One other unresolved detail: Having seen this two-parter to its
conclusion, I can now say Tarantino kicked the Wachowski Bros’ asses
from here to next Sunday. Different films, but drawing from similar
wells. Where the Wachowskis were eventually [consumed by their own
managed to [foul the very well they were drawing
Tarantino managed to demonstrate a real affection for his inspirations
and a skill for reinvention. I still think that he’s a stylist first,
but he’s one of the kings of style.