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April 18, 2004

O.k., Quentin... We're Even

Posted by Mike on April 18, 2004 11:26 PM

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 hated 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:

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:

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 navels and managed to foul the very well they were drawing from, 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.


Ah, thank you Michael. I also disliked volume 1 and for similar reasons. I had been planning on watching volume 2 if for no other reason than to see what other cinematographic icons Tarantino played with. I have been hoping that Volume 2 may redeem some of the mindless violence of the first half, your review gives me hope and a reason to return for more.

Posted by: Leopoldo at April 19, 2004 8:55 AM

Well, the main caveat I'd include two mornings later is that going back into a movie theater after four months away from them was sort of like taking up tequila shots after going dry for a year: It was a pretty overwhelming experience. Some scenes had me squirming in my seat in a way I haven't in some time, just because I wasn't in the "sit outside myself" mindset I had when I'd see a movie or two a week (on the big screen).

There are also a few scenes of extraordinary gore. Nothing quite like the parody-of-the-Monty-Python-parody of a Sam Peckinpah film we got in Vol. 1, but there's one scene that had the entire theater yelling "Eeeeew!" I guess the thing is that by the time we get to the end, and the final reel does so much to redeem what has come before, the gore's less an indicator that QT's an obnoxious shock peddler and more a thing we might decide to tolerate as a quirk.

Posted by: mph at April 19, 2004 9:41 AM