catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Kill Bill


Jan 13 2004
08:44 pm

Well, I think maybe we can be hard on Tarintino. I saw it again a few weeks ago, and I have a theory about it and it works off what Grant has been saying here. The only worthwhile thing about this movie, I think, is that it provokes some good questions about how we watch movies in general. I personally think this movie exists just screws with film critics, a S&M relationship of a different nature. I hesitate to say that Tanitino did this on purpose, but maybe he did.
One of the first things that struck me about it was that, not only did the advertising use the phrase “The 4th Film by Quentin Tarintino,” it’s actually in the film’s titles. At first I thought, “that takes balls.” No director says things like “the 4th film” in the movie itself, at least that I know of. It’s so arrogant, but you know what, it’s pertinent, I think. It’s film critic language, or maybe it’s cinephila language, and I know he subscribes to auetur theory. So anyway, that appears at the beginning of the film, and what follows is an amalgemation of kung-fu, speghetti westerns, yakuza flicks—all b-movie genres.

The difference between Kill Bill and his previous movies is that they were crime pictures which have a complex web of ancestors within film history including prestigious genres such as film noir and French new wave. Tipping your hat to Truffaut and Godard (which he does extensively) will always get you noticed by critics. The other difference is simply that his other movies are much more “talky” and this one is definately more visual, and quite often critics don’t know what to do with very visual films, violent or otherwise, besides saying they are “stunning” or “beautiful.” Kill Bill hacks through any Tarintino-esque dialogue like so many arms, heads and legs. All that cool discussion material has been thrown out in favor of action, and I think that he does this intentionally. Toward the beginning, when the Bride talks to the first DiVA, parts of the Bride’s speech feel like they’ve been translated into Japanese and back into English, and in fact, as she leaves, Sonny Chiba has some subtitled voice overs which have that oddly comic, formal, and slightly-off tone of translated Japanese. Much earlier in this dicussion, Jasonvb said that the dialogue “You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you?” “You know, for a minute there, yeah, I actually did.” didn’t exactly impress him. Me neither. It’s a stupid line. I don’t think that’s changed, but I do think that was exactly the point. As Grant pointed out, Tarninto has been responding to his critics who says he’s an ironic filmmaker, and he says he’s not, he actually loves this stuff. He’s using bad dialogue not only to subvert critical responses but also because he actually likes it.

Kill Bill seems to be a response to all the critical apraisals of his former films. He preempts them by taunting them with the “The 4th Film” bit and then proceeds to hack everything to pieces for the pure joy of it and asking us what we think of it all, isn’t it fun? I can’t help but think he’s been enjoying people trying to make sense of it. I don’t think you can, and I don’t think he wants you to, beyond simply enjoying the movie.
So when he ascribes the revenge quote at the beginning to the Kilingons of Star Trek as opposed to its proper place (I’l admit that I don’t know its actual origin), it is not important whether or not he actually thinks that’s where the quote actually comes from, which some ciritics have asked. What’s important is that he is quoting Star Trek; this is his melange and he doesn’t apologize for it. He loves film and this is his film, or perhaps his filmic love film to film. Grant says that Tarninto would have us bow down to the world of film, and I couldn’t agree more. Not only does it become idolatry, it borders on facism (which is not that much different, I guess).
I should probably qualify my previous ramblings about vengance movies. Yes, it can be a cry for justice, but it can quickly transform into facism. Taxi Driver, I think, does an excellent job of riding that line, but a movie like Dirty Harry actually scares me because it is power worship run amok. Death Wish followed, and so did the Rambo series, and others. Those are awful, ugly, wrong headed and evil films. Dirty Harry capitalized on the post 60’s “law and order” blacklash that Nixon also capitalized on. Rambo reassured America of its supremecy by revenging the memory of his comrades who died in Vietnam. What aboutTarintino/the Bride?
I guess I’ll have to see how it ends.
Although, I have feeling that Tarintino makes film and all things pop his fascist leader. Kino uber alles. It directs absolutely everything he does. The beginning, the end, and nothing in between.

By the way, I recently saw that someone is remaking Walking Tall, the 1973 vengence flick about a backwoods guy (played by Joe Don Baker) who gets fed up with his corrupt town, gets elected sheriff, and begins cleaning up the down with a two by four (I kid you not). The Rock will star as the ass-kicking vigilante. Check out the trailer and weep.