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KILL BILL : AN UNINTENDED APPRAISAL OF THE CLINTON YEARS?

KILL BILL : AN UNINTENDED APPRAISAL OF THE CLINTON YEARS?

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Published May 28, 2004

At the dawn of a new decade and a new century, history returned with a vengeance. People are again fighting and dying for one cause or another, world leaders routinely use phrases such as good and evil in their speeches, and everyone has to make up their mind which is which. Tarantino – whose frame of reference seems limited to the movie theatre, the comics store and the record store – seems increasingly irrelevant in such a world. He might be the king of cool, but that is no longer all that matters. He is, however, still a master craftsman, and the Kill Bill films show his sheer artistry with the camera, dancing between genres like the virtuouso he is, master of style if not substance. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 is how different they really are from each other. Vol. 1 was an over-the-top splatter fest, a one woman army slaughtering an endless succession of weak-willed men and strong-willed women. It is perhaps indicative that Tarantino, child of the 90´s, chooses a feminine hero, as he came of age in a decade where men, not belonging to any minority with its own cause and culture, found it increasingly difficult to find an identity. Now they have again, for good and for bad, found causes to fight for. The second film shows us a different, more vulnerable side to the heroine. She no longer tackles whole armies; one adversary at a time is more than enough. And one has rarely seen the main character in a film in such dire straits as when the bride is buried alive, in one of the most suspenseful scenes in recent memory.
The plot is as simple as can be: the heroine horribly wronged, which justifies her subsequent killing spree. Tarantino´s morality is, as always, vague. He seems to glorify man´s killer instinct, those who don´t possess it in sufficient quantities being barely worth killing. In the films clumsiest scene, he equates murderers with Superman and the rest of us with Clark Kent, the scenes weakness not so much lying in it´s message (which is, of course, kinda cool), but in the fact that we wouldn´t believe that particular character would actually read comic books. This is too much Tarantino´s own voice we´re hearing, comic book villains quoting comic books fail to be believable, even as comic book villains.
Kill Bill 2 is probably better than its predecessor, which in turn was better than Jackie Brown, which brings us close to Tarantino in top form. This is great cinema. But perhaps the “who gives a fuck” stance of his generation is partly to blame for the world deteriorating to the state it’s in today. The generation growing up under Bush will no longer find the outside world as easy to ignore.
At the dawn of a new decade and a new century, history returned with a vengeance. People are again fighting and dying for one cause or another, world leaders routinely use phrases such as good and evil in their speeches, and everyone has to make up their mind which is which. Tarantino – whose frame of reference seems limited to the movie theatre, the comics store and the record store – seems increasingly irrelevant in such a world. He might be the king of cool, but that is no longer all that matters. He is, however, still a master craftsman, and the Kill Bill films show his sheer artistry with the camera, dancing between genres like the virtuouso he is, master of style if not substance. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2 is how different they really are from each other. Vol. 1 was an over-the-top splatter fest, a one woman army slaughtering an endless succession of weak-willed men and strong-willed women. It is perhaps indicative that Tarantino, child of the 90´s, chooses a feminine hero, as he came of age in a decade where men, not belonging to any minority with its own cause and culture, found it increasingly difficult to find an identity. Now they have again, for good and for bad, found causes to fight for. The second film shows us a different, more vulnerable side to the heroine. She no longer tackles whole armies; one adversary at a time is more than enough. And one has rarely seen the main character in a film in such dire straits as when the bride is buried alive, in one of the most suspenseful scenes in recent memory.
The plot is as simple as can be: the heroine horribly wronged, which justifies her subsequent killing spree. Tarantino´s morality is, as always, vague. He seems to glorify man´s killer instinct, those who don´t possess it in sufficient quantities being barely worth killing. In the films clumsiest scene, he equates murderers with Superman and the rest of us with Clark Kent, the scenes weakness not so much lying in it´s message (which is, of course, kinda cool), but in the fact that we wouldn´t believe that particular character would actually read comic books. This is too much Tarantino´s own voice we´re hearing, comic book villains quoting comic books fail to be believable, even as comic book villains.
Kill Bill 2 is probably better than its predecessor, which in turn was better than Jackie Brown, which brings us close to Tarantino in top form. This is great cinema. But perhaps the “who gives a fuck” stance of his generation is partly to blame for the world deteriorating to the state it’s in today. The generation growing up under Bush will no longer find the outside world as easy to ignore.



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