liberty punk "the irony of the information age is that it's given new respectability to uninformed opinion."
Friday, June 11, 2004
In Defense of "Kill Bill"
This is something I recently posted on an Objectivism message board. Because I'm arrogant when it comes to movies (and music), and convinced that all of my opinions are objectively correct, I couldn't stop myself from coming to the defense of "Kill Bill," as it was being criticized for what I felt were the wrong reasons...
"Kill Bill" is a remarkable piece of cinema, if for no other reason than the fact that it's a fine example of a filmmaker indulging himself (and those who have seen the films from which "Kill Bill" borrows/steals) and his own tastes to the absolute fullest. We get to see what a man who’s been in love with B-movie grindhouse cinema his whole life can do with a budget hundreds of times larger than any B-movie in history. We get to watch him pull out all his favorite toys from his toybox, and put them together into something new— a sort of homage to (and parody of) a specific period in film history.
It could be said (in fact, I've said it) that "Kill Bill" is, in many ways, immune from ‘traditional’ criticism, because basically, it’s not a traditional movie. Dialogue was stilted? So was the dialogue in QT's favorite movies. Bloody gore was over the top and unrealistic? So was the violence in QT's favorites. Etc. It’s pretty clear to me that much of it was done that way on purpose. Many of those who are quick to put the film down on artistic bases X, Y, and Z are likely missing the point, and are holding “Kill Bill” to a set of standards better suited a different kind of movie. The same way that one could say, “this trashy romance novel is nothing compared to War and Peace,” one could also say, “this particular romance novel accomplishes exactly what a romance novel should accomplish and does so with a keen style and was obviously written with a genuine love for the genre.”
In other words, it’s perfectly okay if you don’t like it, but that doesn’t make it objectively bad. Objectively, “Kill Bill” is an absolutely piss-poor World War II documentary, a terrible father-and-son reconciliation story, and a god-awful “coming-of-age during the Great Depression” film. It didn’t even come close to achieving any of the things that would be necessary to any of those types of films. However, it’s a superb 1970’s-style kung-fu/samurai/western/revenge flick. Tarantino’s talent enabled him to observe and identify the characteristics (in short: the essence) of what makes those types of films what they are, and spit it all back out, staying true to the tone of the originals, in the form of “Kill Bill.” It works. It does what it sets out to do.
A sort of sidenote: Another, albeit less important part of my enjoyment of "Kill Bill" comes from being able to identify the bits of other films that are copied, mocked, embellished, and otherwise taken, to make up the whole of the film. Even little, inconsequential details add a certain amount of spice to my overall enjoyment of it. (Example, from the Vernita Green scene in Vol. 1: "This Pasadena homemaker's name is Jeanne Bell..." Jeanne Bell was a Playboy Playmate and actress who played the title character in the 1975 blaxploitation flick, "TNT Jackson.")
I believe I even read somewhere that “Pai Mei” loosely translates to “white eyebrow.” Parody? Homage? Both, I like to think.