Kill Bill Vol. 1_______________________________ October 18th, 2003 - saturday___



Okay, so I finally saw this movie... Twice. I have talked to people who love it fervently and I have read reviews from people who seem to hate it with a passion, and after seeing the film, I realize that both sides seem to feel this way for the very same reason: Quentin Tarantino has an unquestionable talent for engaging an audience. Some people may have been duped into thinking that this is a serious film, given its powerful performances and incredibly melodramatic score, but this picture acts more like an exercise in style. The story is so bare, so simple, and for the most part lacks depth; but what's amazing is that Tarantino is able to plow forward on a highly engaging narrative without very much information to work with. Since the story is so lean and straightforward, all of the filmmakers are free to layer wild, and oftentimes disparate, elements onto this simple structure while Tarantino and editor Sally Menke weave it in an incredibly complex manner. Every cut, every turn seems to lead the viewer from one major pop reference to the next, hardly giving them enough time to breathe, and unifying it with an eclectic powerhouse soundtrack comprising of some choice "found" music and some beautiful tracks from the RZA.

Some films are about the issues we deal with in our everyday lives and we can take them as though they "mean" something to us. Kill Bill vol. 1, on the other hand, is simply about that strange, kaleidoscopic world that exists in the aisles of our local video store. The themes and issues the characters deal with acting only as a device to get the viewer emotionally invested in this glorious, cheeseball world. For me, this is candy for a sweet tooth, since this is the world in which I spent so much of my youth. On display here is the same raw fun that comes from watching films like Big Trouble in Little China, but where Carpenter mostly took surface elements, here Tarantino chooses to dig real deep and walks you (or rather runs you) through a fantasy world populated by the characters of this b-class film world as if they live and breathe and continue to walk the earth. For those that are not familiar with action film stars like Sonny Chiba or the "legendary" character he plays, Hattori Hanzo, I'll have to admit that you may feel a little less enthusiastic about a few of the scenes that Tarantino has served up specifically for those in the know. With a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, the geek film god plays out some scenes with an inordinate amount of melodrama, knowing how those viewers, like himself, might feel about the subject, while perhaps slightly disorienting those that are just walking in with no prior knowledge. Now, I'm not saying that simply referencing something gives the film credibility for being brilliant, but knowing and being able to chuckle as these scenes play out adds so much to the viewing experience.

Of course, on its own, the film is an infectiously entertaining romp, packed with some of the most beautiful images to be shot on film in recent years, woven together masterfully in a style reminiscent of that displayed in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West (complete with character theme songs) and unified by one of the most electrically charged soundtracks ever put to film. With Kill Bill vol. 1, Quentin Tarantino has gone and done what he set out to do in the first place: to prove to the world that he is one "badass" filmmaker. Hehe.

What's so exciting is that this is only the first half. And what's more exciting than that is this is a director who really knows how to end a film.

Now for my apologies and disclaimers...

I may sound incredibly enthusiastic about Kill Bill vol. 1, but it took me a couple of viewings to get into this mood. So for those that are into this kind of thing, hell even if you're not, I recommend catching it twice. The music alone is worth the price of admission.

Man, what a lengthy post. I guess this is what happens when you go to school to "study film". My school may not have taught me to make films, but I sure know how to watch 'em!




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all material (c) copyright 2003 Kazu Kibuishi