Jump to content

Kill Bill


DanBuck
 Share

Recommended Posts

[ADMINISTRATOR'S NOTE:

Jeffrey here. This thread was originally part of the Kill Bill vol. 2 discussion, but quickly became a discussion of a larger question: If we justify or excuse the violence in Tarantino's Kill Bill films, what exactly are we saying? What are the consequences of such a justification? Are we just making excuses for the films because we think they're "cool"? Here's Dan Buck's post that set the fire...

Okay, just caught the first one and my big question is this?

How long do we forgive Tarantino's adolescent obsession with blood just because his cinematography and storytelling is outstanding?

I know I'm late into the game but this is how I feel. I keep waiting for him to grow up, but he doesn't. I'm not a stickler about violence. Check out some of my favorite films Things to Do in Denver..., Usual Suspects, The Professional, but this film is UNQUESTIONABLY a celebration of gory, horrible deaths. In fact, the switch to anime felt like his effort to be even more violent than real life would allow. I almost stopped the film twice. There was very little redeeming value in these horrific images. I love the sushi bar scene, I love the titles, costumes, score and overall artistic direction, but I was so annoyed at the unrelenting artery spurt. It was like watching some one with Beethoven's skill addicted to playing Richard Marx.

I've skimmed throught the TEN PAGE thread on the vol 1, which was as much about the Matrix, which was just as annoying, without the skill. But nobody has given me a satisfactory answer to why anyone should have to endure Tarantino's sadism. (I know, I know, its him at his most masochistic...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 56
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Dan.

Have you seen (m)Leary's Review? Satisfactory answers are therein.

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DanBuck wrote:

: How long do we forgive Tarantino's adolescent obsession with blood just

: because his cinematography and storytelling is outstanding?

Isn't that kind of like forgiving Chaplin his vulgar below-the-belt humour just because his timing was outstanding and his films appealed to our sentiments?

: I keep waiting for him to grow up, but he doesn't.

Why on earth would you wait for a thing like that? smile.gif Especially when the film in question is explicitly going in the opposite direction to his other, more mature, films?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you seen (m)Leary's Review? Satisfactory answers are therein.

Is this a joke? All I found was an explanation of many genres. But this film had more violence than and gore than all these genres combined.

In a brilliantly graphic anime sequence

This was all I could find. Leary, I always love your reviews, but why is it brilliant? Because its graphic?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DanBuck wrote:

: How long do we forgive Tarantino's adolescent obsession with blood just

: because his cinematography and storytelling is outstanding?  

Isn't that kind of like forgiving Chaplin his vulgar below-the-belt humour just because his timing was outstanding and his films appealed to our sentiments?

Okay, I'll bite. Yes. I'd rather Chaplin be brilliant with mature subject material. Why is that wrong? Because he's cinematic canon? Is he untouchable?

: I keep waiting for him to grow up, but he doesn't.

Why on earth would you wait for a thing like that?  :)  Especially when the film in question is explicitly going in the opposite direction to his other, more mature, films?

Apparently my hopes are misguided. But I still haven't HEARD why its okay that he's descending into a celebration of dismemberment?
Link to comment
Share on other sites

DanBuck wrote:

: How long do we forgive Tarantino's adolescent obsession with blood just

: because his cinematography and storytelling is outstanding?  

Isn't that kind of like forgiving Chaplin his vulgar below-the-belt humour just because his timing was outstanding and his films appealed to our sentiments?

Did Chaplin ever produce any film that remotely approached a level of vulgarity even facetiously comparable to the level of gore and violence in Kill Bill Vol 1?

Had Chaplin made Freddy Got Fingered, would it have been a film we would warmly embrace?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Russell Lucas

Dan, everything I've read suggests Volume 2 is far removed in tone from Volume 1, so your respite from arterial spray seems to be at hand. And there's way more of that in Volume 1 than in his other films-- RD has the persistently bloody Mr. Orange, and PF has the "brain detail" scene, but those films are nowhere near this one. Jackie Brown has no blood, to my recollection, and very little violence. So, there's some variation in violence content there.

It was a funny moment explaining to my wife last night that the dance club scene switches to balck and white because the MPAA couldn't allow that sort of blood content be shown in color. Watching the trailers afterward, I think they altered the color of the stains on the yellow jumpsuit to brown to get that sort of general audiences approval.

My wife cringed at some of the violence, but told me this morning that she really dug the film and will be envious of my friend and I seeing the second part on Friday. If only our seven month-old was ready for a babysitter.

Dan, I can't argue you into accepting this "bloody, empty bliss." (Edelstein) If you don't see in it the sort of exuberance in movie-loving and genre storytelling that I do-- the sort of archetypal coolness that is what movies have always (for better or worse) been about, then reading ten pages of me telling you why I love it isn't going to do anything for you.

I'll readily admit that if I loved movies with this level of violence with any degree of regularity, I'd have some concerns. And my wife and I talked some about the circumstances of liking a movie like this. I don't know if there's a good way to distinguish parody violence from real violence. I might have some more insight, though, after I watch it again tonight!

David Poland--that joker! His objections to Volume 2 seem to center around the lack of quotable dialogue. The ability to throw out hip phrases of ironic movie dialogue is the hallmark of our generation's cinephilia. Shouldn't the lack thereof represent a maturation? Get back to your intricate box office projections and hit us with that secret review that will make the Matrix sequels make transcendent sense, Dave.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I appreciate your patient response to my hot-headed frustration but I can't help but wonder...

If you can't defend your taste for the film beyond "it's coolness" perhaps, you SHOULDN'T like the film. Even genre/filmmaking love doesn't justify this film's violence. No genre ever was THIS gory. Westerns, kung-fu, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This was all I could find.  Leary, I always love your reviews, but why is it brilliant?  Because its graphic?

Totally legit question. I tried to answer the "why" question so hard, but don't think I even come close. I just liked the film. It conjured up all those sunny Saturday afternoons spent watching cheesy, heroic, formulaic, meta-mythic action flicks. Somehow, Tarantino taps perfectly into the holy trinity of these B-film classic genres: Spaghetti Western, grindhouse Martial Art, and Blaxploitation.

But still, this doesn't come close to an apology for the sort of violence we find in any of these genres, and thus in Kill Bill. I can't think of one. We could probably think of films that do the same thing Kill Bill does with less gratuitous violence.

I do think we can say this is a good film though for the following reasons:

1. Tarantino really is an artist. This is spectacular filmmaking.

2. Tarantino is an insightful cultural critic. He is exposing to us viewing processes that are latent in 90 precent of his viewing audience. I think am into his focus on genre because this is the same thing Godard did in the 60's and it really broke open the way popular audiences began to see these films that were informing everyday social practice totally unbeknownst to them.

So, at the very least, it is unfair to say that this film is "nothing other than the result of an adolescent blood lust." There is so much more than that going on in the film. AND we haven't seen the second half yet. This wouldn't excuse the level of violence in the first part, but we can't judge the visual intentionality of the scenes in the first half responsibly until we have seen the whole thing.

If we are waiting to see Tarantino to grow up, I think one could make the case in this film that he has. He is admitting the generic influence B-film has on his understanding of "what film is" and he is wearing it on his sleeve. My problem with things like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs is that they toe the line. They try to keep one foot in each world. Kill Bill is like the first step of a 12 step meeting for cinema-addicts-who-make-films.

Oh, and the anime sequence is brilliant visually, not intellectually. It shimmered and effervesced with blood and gore.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Russell Lucas

I hope never to convey the impression that I'm unconcerned with on-screen violence. Heck, the other night I was unhappy with the explosions and gunfire while watching Castle in the Sky.

This is a very unique take on genre films, genre characters and genre images made by a very derivative but still (to my mind) distinctive filmmaker. I don't know how much of this boils down to liking or disliking the Tarantino oevre as a whole. I wish I could tell you...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dan, everything I've read suggests Volume 2 is far removed in tone from Volume 1, so your respite from arterial spray seems to be at hand.

Well... uh... no, there's not much of a respite at all. There's no GEYSER-FORCE blood, but there's blood aplenty, and the most graphic instance of onscreen dismemberment yet in a Tarantino film.

PLEASE DO NOT ELABORATE ON THIS POINT, THOSE WHO HAVE SEEN IT. THIS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A MAJOR SPOILER.

Just wanted to make sure we're all clear on that.

There is a lot more talking and "humanity" in this episode, but the showdowns between the Bride and her remaining opponents are every bit as sensational as we've come to expect.

I don't think the film is first and foremost a "celebration of dismemberment." I think it's a celebration of a tradition, of a series of sub-genres, in which bloody bouts and the bread and butter of the medium. It is definitely worth questioning the validity of continuing such stuff as "entertainment." But there is a lot more going on here as well. I think Tarantino goes out of his way in both 1 & 2 to wink at the audience (literally, in Vol. 2) that this is done in a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek fashion... letting us know that he's trying to take a genre that is typically bloody and fill it with something more significant. I do sympathize with Dan Buck to some extent... I wish it wasn't so indulgent in its violence and in the staging of such spectacles of cruelty. This is eye-for-an-eye storytelling told for the visceral thrill of violent justice being delivered on the heads of spectacularly bad villains.

But what I do love is the other focus of the film... the revelry in excellence of performance, cinematography, music-and-imagery in perfect fusion, creative and colorful spectacle, humor, strong characterization... the kind of stuff that is so lacking everywhere else. I always come away from Tarantino's film saying "THAT'S what is possible in the typical two-hour framework... Now if he would only apply his talents to a truly meaningful story, he'd be one of my favorite directors." In the meantime, I'm just giving him credit for the limited genius that he does deliver, while I still wish he took pleasure in something more redeeming than cartoonish bloodshed and exhibits of exaggerated badness being met with an equal and opposite reaction.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think i kept up with the 1o page thread about as well as i'm keeping up with this, but this statement in particular i emphatically disagree with:

If you can't defend your taste for the film beyond \"it's coolness\" perhaps, you SHOULDN'T like the film.

That is, if you replace the word "coolness" with "style." There are definite films that are to be appreciated on the merits of style alone, and if Kill Bill doesn't fall into that category nothing will.

Quoted from the "Tips of the Hat" section from my year-end Top 10:

There were moments this year in which the imagery lept from the screen and bit us in the face. While lacking the solid infrastructure that the films in the above list boast, these still deserve honorable mention.  

Christoffer Boe

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

WARNING: Kill Bill, VOLUME ONE spoilers (Not Two)

It is also worth noting that the VILLAINS are just died-in-the-wool evil, and they admit it. What distinguishes the person we're cheering for is that she has seen the light. She has chosen a better life. She wants to be a mother. She knows this goes against her baser nature, but she wants to be better for the sake of her daughter. Thus, her bloody revenge quest is her desperate attempt to fight her way out of the pit she's lived in. The exaggerated suffering is the cost of, in this case, doing the right thing... getting her daughter out the world that she openly acknowledges is THE WRONG WORLD TO LIVE IN.

Sure, Tarantino's enjoying the conventions that come along with portraying that world, but I certainly wouldn't say he's glamorizing in that folks will come away saying, "I wish *I* lived in that world. I wish *I* had the Bride's existence."

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Russell Lucas

Upon reflection, I'd love Volume 1 as much if there weren't spraying arteries and limbs severed. They're certainly not integral to my enjoyment of the film or the story. I suppose I have to ask whether (1) they should penalize an otherwise well-told story and (2) whether the sprayings and severances become the story by their nature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Russell Lucas

Jeffrey, was there any substantive or thematic or purposive reason for the Bride's named to have been treated thus in Volume 1 that is fulfilled or revealed in Volume 2, or was it just a lark?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's the Power of the Boards: You Snooze, You Looze.

-s.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope never to convey the impression that I'm unconcerned with on-screen violence.  Heck, the other night I was unhappy with the explosions and gunfire while watching Castle in the Sky.

Funny you should mention this. So did I, and very recently. I don't see you as unconcerned about violence.

here's something you said in the other thread: (I told you I;d read it again)

Take it to the present day. Take a bunch of movies from this past summer that you saw. X-Men 2, Terminator 3, Bad Boys 4, LXG. All movies where violence is a significant part of the way the story is told. All movies that employ film language that was not widely in use fifty years ago. Some of them films where the depictions of violence have been scrubbed and polished just enough so that thirteen year olds can see them. And, I'd wager (and I'll have to guess, because I haven't seen any of them), all films where the depictions of violence glide so easily into one's subconscious, into one's categories of drama-processing, that they cause hardly a ripple. Nary a disturbing, lingering sight among them. Now, those movies might or might not have had a higher actual body count than Kill Bill (the restaurant scene is quite ambitious), but I'd guess that there's a similar ratio (in film running time) of action/violent scenes to exposition/dialogue scenes, and I wonder in what sense is this easily-digestible violence better or safer than Tarantino's bloody violence?  

On any level?

It is not the existence of violence in stories that bothers me. It is the Fourth of July grande finale of blood that I can't stand. Its as though he's adding violence to the most violent genres and depicting that violence in an even more bloody manner than ever before. Is it safer or better? No, but it is more necessary to the story than it is gratuitous gore for the sake of being "hip."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

JO:

I always come away from Tarantino's film saying \"THAT'S what is possible in the typical two-hour framework... Now if he would only apply his talents to a truly meaningful story, he'd be one of my favorite directors.\" In the meantime, I'm just giving him credit for the limited genius that he does deliver, while I still wish he took pleasure in something more redeeming than cartoonish bloodshed and exhibits of exaggerated badness being met with an equal and opposite reaction

This is my sentiment EXACTLY!!!

I've heard these answers:

1. It's a celebration of sub-genre/cliche's hip chic yada yada yada - I have no problem with that. But show me ANY film in ANY of those genres that so exhuberantly revels in its bloodshed and my point will be nill. Tarantino is turning the violence and gore "up to eleven."

2. What did you expect from the film? That it wouldn't be violent? - NO! I expect violence, but its the purposes behind it with which I take issue. I feel as though its violence purely for arousal sake. The fact that its set amidst fanstastic filmmaking doesn detract from the fact that this guy's got a hard-on for dicing folks up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest Russell Lucas

here's something you said in the other thread: (I told you I;d read it again)

Take it to the present day. Take a bunch of movies from this past summer that you saw. X-Men 2' date=' Terminator 3, Bad Boys 4, LXG. All movies where violence is a significant part of the way the story is told. All movies that employ film language that was not widely in use fifty years ago. Some of them films where the depictions of violence have been scrubbed and polished just enough so that thirteen year olds can see them. And, I'd wager (and I'll have to guess, because I haven't seen any of them), all films where the depictions of violence glide so easily into one's subconscious, into one's categories of drama-processing, that they cause hardly a ripple. Nary a disturbing, lingering sight among them. Now, those movies might or might not have had a higher actual body count than Kill Bill (the restaurant scene is quite ambitious), but I'd guess that there's a similar ratio (in film running time) of action/violent scenes to exposition/dialogue scenes, and I wonder in what sense is this easily-digestible violence better or safer than Tarantino's bloody violence?

On any level? [/quote']

It is not the existence of violence in stories that bothers me. It is the Fourth of July grande finale of blood that I can't stand. Its as though he's adding violence to the most violent genres and depicting that violence in an even more bloody manner than ever before. Is it safer or better? No, but it is more necessary to the story than it is gratuitous gore for the sake of being "hip."

Well, I'm not sure how they line up on an accounting of acts of violence or actual blood content, but the Shaw Bros. grindhouse movies he's referencing were comically bloody. There's that exploding head thing they used to show before the Five Questions segment on The Daily Show that was from a grindhouse movie.

What I was getting at lo those many months ago, Dan, was that perhaps we should always be bothered by violence in stories, and perhaps we should question its role in communication forms. My point has been that while a film like Volume 1 may serve as a lightning rod for lots of people's jeremiads, I wonder how much more insidious those other ways of telling violent stories can be, where we don't blanche at the ways that we are allowing violence to be used as a cinematic language.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DanBuck wrote:

: : : How long do we forgive Tarantino's adolescent obsession with blood

: : : just because his cinematography and storytelling is outstanding?

: :

: : Isn't that kind of like forgiving Chaplin his vulgar below-the-belt

: : humour just because his timing was outstanding and his films appealed

: : to our sentiments?

:

: Okay, I'll bite. Yes. I'd rather Chaplin be brilliant with mature subject

: material. Why is that wrong? Because he's cinematic canon? Is he

: untouchable?

Of course not. Nothing is untouchable. But in both cases you are imposing a dichotomy between form and content that distorts the merits of both filmmakers.

FWIW, when I wrote that question, I had this essay by William Paul on 'Charles Chaplin and the Annals of Anality' (which can be found in this book) in mind specifically; to excerpt the relevant bits of his argument from pages 114, 115 and 127:

There is an honorable body of important art generally decried for its vulgarity if it is noticed at all. Occasionally works previously embraced by the masses are taken up by official culture, but when this happens the greatest appeal they held for the masses somehow vanishes. Although Charles Dickens achieved an early and extraordinary popularity, it took a good deal longer for his stature as a writer to be acknowledged. And even then, his work was transformed by critical reception so that he is viewed as great
in spite of
his sentimentality. "In Dickens," Dwight MacDonald cautions, "superb comedy alternates with bathetic sentimentality, great descriptive prose with the most vulgar kind of theatricality" (7).
What for a nineteenth-century audience might have been key reasons for reading these novels becomes something for us to overlook.
We of course possess discriminatory sensibilities the masses aer incapable of, even though the masses probably did discriminate in favor of Dickens's "sentimentality." But by throwing out those qualities that made the novels most appealing to their audience we can congratulate ourselves on our ability to locate the "true" merit of these works. This kind of "discrimination" is as conformist in its aims as the mass audience it deplores is supposed to be. . . .

The general critical reception of Charlie Chaplin has always recognized the vulgar sources of his material, although usually to point out how much he transcends them. As with Aristophanes, the vulgarity is often acknowledged in order to be dismissed. Chaplin is most often praised for his abilities as a mime, his pathos, his subtlety of expression, his humanism, and, whenever the comedy is addressed specifically, most especially in his later films, his satire. As far as I know, no one has ever thought to praise him for the anality of his humor. A point that touches on this might be mentioned in passing but always in a way that ends up containing it; this aspect of Chaplin's humor is simply not regarded as fit for praise, certainly not to be made central to his art. In effect, there's a kind of censoring here of the lower bodily stratum. This censoring represents an astonishing distortion of his films. . . .

The Tramp is most at home in the world of material values; he is a character most fully defined by appetites, which accounts for the great emphasis on hunger in most of his films and the countless gags about eating. Yet the Tramp's appetite also extends to a hunger for the spiritual, which has enabled critical appreciation of Chaplin to emphasize the spiritual over the material, a clear distortion of much of the impact of Chaplin's comedy. The vulgar humor is not merely decoration necessary for an artist who sought widespread appeal; in fact vulgar humor is close to the essence of his work. The kind of material-spiritual opposition that can be found in Chaplin has made it possible for critics to excuse his vulgarity. In focusing on the vulgar roots of Chaplin's art, the delight it takes in exploring the lower body, I have tried to establish that there are values inherent in the vulgarity itself.

Quite frankly, I wonder sometimes if the speechifying in Tarantino's films is, itself, an attempt to make his films rise "above" the genres that inspire them -- I wonder if he pours on too much "satire" and "irony", both of which Mr. Paul argues have been considered superior to "lower" forms of laughter since the Romantic age. But when you think about it, it is precisely that tension between arch, hip, "higher" forms of comedy (combined with "higher" forms of theatricality, such as the deep emotion that Uma Thurman brings to her character) and gross, vulgar, "lower" forms of entertainment that makes Kill Bill so interesting.

SDG wrote:

: Did Chaplin ever produce any film that remotely approached a level of

: vulgarity even facetiously comparable to the level of gore and violence in

: Kill Bill Vol 1?

Irrelevant. I am saying that A + B = C -- that is, I am saying that the equation Vulgar Elements + Critically Laudable Elements = Critics Overlooking Vulgar Elements To Laud The Other Elements applies to Charlie Chaplin as much as it does to Quentin Tarantino.

I am establishing an equation, I am not discussing the values that we assign to the respective variables.

: Had Chaplin made Freddy Got Fingered, would it have been a film we

: would warmly embrace?

Irrelevant question, since the film's merits (or lack thereof) are to be found in the film and not in the filmmaker.

Russell Lucas wrote:

: Upon reflection, I'd love Volume 1 as much if there weren't spraying

: arteries and limbs severed.

I don't think Vol. 1 would have been as funny if it didn't have them. I mean, the KIND of "spraying arteries" we see in that film are so obviously fake, you can't really complain about the film rubbing your face in "realistic" gore the way that you can about The Passion.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...