The Null Device

Posts matching tags 'quentin tarantino'


Maestro of super-stylish violence Quentin Tarantino has announced that he wants to make a sequel to the Kill Bill films, with Uma Thurman dispatching more baddies in ultra-cool ways. Of course, with both the titular Bill and the actor (David Carradine) who played him being dead, there is some speculation over what form such a sequel would take:

Option #1 - Bride on the Run. Remember in the first Kill Bill, where Uma Thurman murdered Vivica A Fox's character in front of her four-year-old daughter? The most obvious plotline for Kill Bill 3 would centre on the daughter's efforts to track down and kill Thurman in retaliation. She'd be 15 by 2014, so that would really tap into the key Hannah Montana demographic. In fact, why not go even further and make it a musical? Everyone could learn valuable life lessons about the importance of friendship and the littlest Jonas brother could play the love interest. Perfect.
Option #4 - The Death Proof Option. Kill Bill 3 opens with Thurman setting out to kill Bill, before realising that she's already killed Bill. So instead, she spends two and a half hours waffling aimlessly about nothing in an indulgent faux-hip way to the sound of the same tired old surf guitar records that everyone started getting sick of a decade ago. Something marginally exciting might happen at the end, but nobody notices because they've fallen asleep or left the cinema. This is the option most likely to reach fruition.
Myself, I am partial to this idea.
In one sequence Tarantino called "distinctly Tarantino-esque," Slim delivers an unexpectedly poetic monologue on cheeseburgers while dancing to an Ennio Morricone instrumental with a drug-addled Uma Thurman. And in the film's stunning climax, Slim remembers his training with a martial arts expert in China and then exacts revenge on the film's antagonists: a Nazi colonel, a Hollywood stuntman, and a Los Angeles syndicate of 88 yakuza warriors.

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The Independent's Johann Hari on Quentin Tarantino: he has proved his critics right; that the violence in his film is there because, in his opinion, it's "stylish" and "cool":

The moral vision of Reservoir Dogs turns out to have been something well-meaning viewers projected onto it: Tarantino really does think violence is “like, cool.” He has been systematically squandering his cinematic talent ever since – in ways that reflect disturbingly on us, the viewers.
Violence has particular power on film precisely because it involuntarily activates our powers of empathy. We imagine ourselves, as an unthinking reflex, into the agony. This is the most civilising instinct we have: to empathize with suffering strangers. (It competes, of course, with all our more base instincts). Any work of art that denies this sense – that is based on subverting it – will ultimately be sullying. No, I’m not saying it makes people violent. But it does leave the viewer just a millimetre more morally corroded. Laughing at simulated torture – and even cheering it on, as we are encouraged to through all of Tarantino’s later films – leaves a moral muscle just a tiny bit more atrophied.
Tarantino’s films aren’t even sadistic. Sadists take human suffering seriously; that’s why they enjoy it. No: Tarantino is morally empty, seeing a shoot-out as akin to dancing cheek-to-cheek. He sees violence as nothing. Compare his oeuvre to the work of a genuine cinematic sadist – Alfred Hitchcock – and you see the difference. Precisely because Hitchcock enjoyed inflicting pain, the pain is always authentic, and it is never emptied of its own inner horror.

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The credits on dodgy Chinese DVDs (the ones found at computer swap meets) are very informative. Until today, I didn't know that Kill Bill was based on a book by Bryce Courtenay.

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I picked up the Kill Bill vol. 1 soundtrack CD today. Like film soundtrack CDs (well, the better ones, anyway), it's a bit of a mixed bag, though has enough good moments to make it worthwhile. Nancy Sinatra's Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) is, of course, beautiful and haunting, and Bernard Herrmann's Twisted Nerve is a very stylish piece of retro ambience. Luis Bacalov's The Grand Duel (Parte Prima), taken from the score of some old film, is spaghetti-Western music in the Morricone tradition, and I'm sure I have heard Zamfir's The Lonely Shepherd before. I wasn't too fond of RZA's contributions, particularly Ode to Oren Ishii, a rather gratuitous piece of gangsta rap. (I suppose it makes marketing sense to have it there, though, and it probably beats having LL Cool J rapping about whatever cardboard-cutout character he played in his latest film.) The CD is padded out with loops of drumming and sound effects created by RZA for combat sequences; listening to them is not unlike listening to an electronic-music magazine CD of free samples.

One annoyance: they only put a bit over a minute of Neu!'s Super 16 on the CD. Given that the disc clocks in at 59 minutes, they could have fit the whole track on it. Though perhaps it'd have cost them higher licensing fees or something.

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I finally got around to seeing Kill Bill part 1 tonight. My thoughts:

  • It was spectacularly violent, as one would expect from Tarantino, The violence had an over-the-top quality about it, much like a Road Runner cartoon, only with blood everywhere. The blood flowed like water from a burst main, and I was expecting pretty much anybody who entered the screen to transition from person to blood-sack. The violence was quite stylishly done, often in the form of exquisitely choreographed martial-arts sequences, whose machinelike neatness would only be tempered by the spurting geysers of red, red krovvy that inevitably ensued.
  • It was also extremely stylised. The sets and costumes, the props (the Pussy Wagon, for example), the colours (the use of bright yellow, for example), the editing (there was a transition from colour to black and white in the middle which could only have been as a hip reference to a genre of martial-arts films), and of course Tarantino's trademarked banter.
  • Parts of it, of course, beggared plausibility; from Thurman's character having made a full recovery in the first place to the rather sporting one-at-a-time martial-arts sequences, where thugs would take turns to attack and be dispatched by our heroine, and would carry out elaborate little dances to themselves as they waited for their turn.
  • The incidental music was great; very atmospheric. I wonder how much of that was done by RZA and how much was borrowed from old film scores (as Tarantino admitted to doing).
  • The overall impression I got was of extreme coolness; not cool in the subjective this-is-good sense but coolness as an attitude, an objective stylistic feature: dry, wry, too-hip-to-care, and yet with layers of references and even more layers of callow, almost nihilistic ironic detachment.

All in all, I rather enjoyed it. Not the best film I'd ever seen, but a lot better than the overly long and laboured affair that was Jackie Brown.

(Talking point: Kill Bill is to hipsters what The Crow was to goths. Discuss.)

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