Kill Bill: Volume 1
It can be exaggerated and animated, dark crimson and oozing, bright scarlet and spraying, or even black as midnight and puddled in new fallen snow. It’s blood – the star of Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film, Kill Bill. There’s even a plot: A horribly wronged woman (Uma) equipped with purist determination and an uncanny ability to unleash vengeance upon those responsible for a wedding day massacre that left her the sole survivor (not for lack of trying) of her wedding party. Although Tarantino serves up the cut and paste classic revenge yarn in fluid segments (out of time of course), they are clearly planned to perfection (if not sometimes overdrawn) set pieces to showcase his energy and almost arrogant brilliance. He’s not just saying he’s a better filmmaker than you’re used to – he actually is better.
With Kill Bill, there is not need to dwell on the meaningless afterthought of a plot. We all know who’s gonna bite the bullet in Volume II (his name rhymes with “kill”), but Tarantino has earned the right after the labyrinthine Pulp Fiction to keep it real simple, keep it real cool like Fonzie.
He evidently uses the eons it takes between pictures to cultivate, and nurture a deliciously warped mind. Kill Bill and its super slick, meticulously designed, carefully and oh so seamlessly worded script where Quentin just rolls out the old tough guy cliché’s but believes in and worships them all, is no more than a forum for Tarantino to focus on and fiercely embrace the area of filmmaking that so clearly is his passion (and gift), visionary technique.
The movie is a film student’s delight. Imaginative uses for color and black and white stock, animation, elongated tracking shots with no cuts, pacing, angles, sound. Tarantino prays at the alter of the Cineplex Odeon and leaves his mark on e-v-uh-ree aspect of this project – from the chillingly ironic music to the campy credits and subtitles (to a cast that includes Vivica Fox, Daryl Hannah (?!), and Lucy Lui working hard and shining for it). Quent’s that brilliant geek from high school who collected comics, spoke to his pencil in Romulan and sketched elaborate iconic maps of worlds similar to Middle Earth - but Quentin of course is the chosen one; chosen to bring all those off putting interests of preadolescence and creepy eccentricities of savants to the art of movie directing.
Beyond the visual mastery of his efforts here, what strikes most jarringly and shocks with an unexpected (even while somewhat expecting) blow is the extent and severity of the violence. True, it is many times portrayed in an over the top manner that keeps us from feeling too awkward watching two hours of carnage, yet there remains one reason to feel it sit restlessly and painfully in the pit of your stomach…Uma. She does not hold back here emotionally just because it’s essentially a pop culture affair. The Bride (as she is called) believes everyone she loved – including an unborn child – was slaughtered that day in a desert town church, and Uma bravely exposes all wounds as she hurtles relentlessly like a most angelic, graceful teminatrix to bury blades in the flesh of those who betrayed her. Uma, in a revelatory performance that will almost surely be overlooked come awards season, deserves to be recognized for carrying a movie that, without her, would have ultimately been a stylistic masterpiece, but never the stirring epic that it is shaping up to be.
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