READER RECOMMENDATION: KILL BILL (VOLS. 1 & 2) (2003-2004)

Reader recommendation by Caleb Moss

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: , , , Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox

PLOT: A woman known only as “the Bride” awakens from a coma and sets off to wreak revenge on Bill and the team of assassins that betrayed her.

Still from Kill Bill
WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE LIST: By the sole merit of being Quentin Tarantino’s most self-indulgent, ambitious and proudly artificial film. Not only is this Tarantino at the height of his formalistic film-making capabilities, this kinetic and entertaining work of ultraviolent pornography may perhaps be the most aesthetically alienating and divisive in his filmography, even to the adamant Tarantino fanbase. It’s therefore worth considering for the List not only as representative of Quentin Tarantino, but as being the seminal representative of the postmodern exploitation genre at its tautest and most entertaining.

COMMENTS: Have you ever been curious what kind of film  would direct if he was perpetually stuck with the brain of a hyper-intelligent, hyperactive 14-year old and had an obsessive penchant for wanton violence, manga, and endlessly deconstructing pop-culture ephemera? This is your movie.

Adhering to the already well-established standard on this website in which the quality of the film discussed can merit inclusion on the List when the degree of weirdness is more or less questionable, I will waste no further time on exalting the blood-drenched beauty of this film, and instead shall provide three reasons why this is Tarantino’s weirdest film:

1. Aesthetic Design: If you’re the film-obsessive type, then every frame of this movie will feel as if you’re being treated to a Nouvelle Vague-themed candy store whose wares are arranged in an array of colorful nods to exploitation and B-movie cinema (see the crimson skies inspired by the Certified Weird film Goke in Volume 1!) The film alternates so frequently between different cinematic modes and filters ranging from anime (a segment animated by  of Funky Forest fame!) to black and white to the striking image of the faces of Uma Thurman’s enemies superimposed over hers in a garish red hue.

2. Unreal and Hyperstylized Violence: Tarantino, a renowned purveyor of aestheticized violence, slices and dices himself a place within the annals of such maestros of perverse, arty carnage among the likes of Sam Peckinpah, , and Sergio Leone. Blood spurts out like ribbons from expertly cut limbs. Our revenge-bent protagonist literally survives a gunshot to her temple simply through the revitalizing force of pure hatred. Uma Thurman dismembers over eighty-eight Yakuza grunts—and then some—effortlessly. A custom-made katana can literally tear down both man and deity alike.

3. Non-Linear Chronology: As in Pulp Fiction, the Kill Bill series structures itself after postmodern narrative, preferring to splice up its epic story as if the entire film was being projected as the murderous fever-dream of an over-caffeinated geek.

Unlike Pulp Fiction, however, the Kill Bill series manages to achieve what its widely-loved predecessor only aims at: rendering pure, unadulterated pulp into a cinematic showcase for gloriously nihilistic Pop-Art. Motifs of blood, sharpened steel, and fantastical dismemberment recur frequently until it all blurs together, a savage yet strangely mesmerizing poetry.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“A strange, fun and densely textured work that gets better as it goes along… Few filmmakers have ever had the freedom and resources to make such a piece exactly as they wished, and Tarantino takes it so far that it becomes a highly idiosyncratic and deeply personal excursion into a world of movie-inspired unreality.”–Todd McCarthy, Variety (Vol. 1, contemporaneous)

 

11 thoughts on “READER RECOMMENDATION: KILL BILL (VOLS. 1 & 2) (2003-2004)”

  1. omg so is black swan or dat crank movie rite?

    Snark aside, quick revision to add:

    I would say omit the additional “reasons” after “why” in the last sentence of paragraph 2 in the comments section. I shouldn’t let my overweening enthusiasm and verbosity try to mask any syntactical errors, because there is a difference between being ‘weird’ for ‘weirds’ sake and just structural incoherence.

    Just like how there’s a self-evident difference between the mesmerizing, personalized weirdness displayed in Twin Peaks and the careless sloppiness in American Horror Story.

  2. And it takes at least some kind of misfit weirdo to have the indefatigable determination and personal disregard for the aesthetic inclinations of most to truly produce an artistic outlier that people can insincerely scoff, act diminutively or spit on the near-suicidal craft they labor on.

    Any art that I really respect at least has the arrogance and youthful self-destructiveness that inspires the artist to figuratively flail his arms out to the world around him, regardless of the risk of embarrassment, because they believe in their ideas, no matter how stupid and absurd and insignificant to the world around them, means something to them and fills them with a satisfaction that can strive past all empty ironic deflections and hysterical mocking.

    If you want to be funny, then tell an actual joke for once instead of finding a disguise for your cruelty towards what other people unabashedly love.

  3. Who’s making a joke? I’m being entirely serious – it apparently worked, since INGLORIOUS BASTERDS and DJANGO UNCHAINED follow basically the same format — taking bits and pieces and synthesizing them into some ultimate genre film.
    The only difference between those and other Fan Films is that it’s legitimized by money, in terms of the people involved and the scale.

    Some will call it genius – others will call it bullshit.

  4. Thanks. Sorry if I responded too fast preemptively lol.

    It is sometimes hard to differentiate irony and sincerity in text sometimes, especially since irregular or deliberately messy punctuation is so frequently used as a distancing device in language.

    Prolifically reading for novel reports and managing your own projects can be slightly distressing at times, but I’m happy that my productivity in writing is being somewhat rewarded in opening discussion about my favorite films lol. I think I can just be so guarded at times about the things I’m aesthetically enthusiastic towards at times.

  5. I would say that you have an interestingly salient point on the expenditure between certain self-indulgent passions projects and how a director like Tarantino would overshadow other people trying to make a foot into it.
    I just thought that this would be a more viable candidate, mostly because of the repeatedly strange looks that I would receive from some people when I would confess that I prefer this series over Pulp Fiction(I think Jackie Brown isn’t talked about enough imo, but it’s not really weird in any significant way worth a discussion on here).
    And I would say that this film was about the last film he made in his Godardian stage at its peak before simmering into overproduced Russ Meyerseque revisionist type films.

    Though I’m sure if I ever met ol’ Grandpappy Goddard that he would probably call Breathless the same exact thing.

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