The banality of fascist art and architecture is often noted; the banality of fascist movies less so. Kill Bill is one banal fascist movie.Here’s the idea:
Tarantino, likes, loves, martial arts films, right man? So, like,
because he’s stuck for anything else to do right, cos he only really had one idea, right? Right? He decided to show his fans a real good time by making a big, fuck off kung fu film which will just be so wild man and so crazy and so much fun that everyone will just have a great time man. Right?
I don’t really care that it was fascist - Hollywood makes fascist movies for the fascist inside us all: if Don Simpson or Bruckheimer could speak English that is what they would say. My argument is with the solid-ass tedium of most of them; with Tarantino, who has managed to get himself accepted as a wild and wacky film director, leading the field now with Kill Bill.
Secret Agent (or some such covert operator) Uma Thurman’s wedding party is slaughtered by The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She is in a coma for four years then recovers and sets about killing them all. Er, that’s it.
I’m cool with simple plots; I like a good comic-- they don’t make good comics anymore-- but a comic must have a dynamic brevity. I stopped reading comic books when they went pretentious back in the mid-eighties, y’know, when Spider Man spent three issues wandering around Manhattan fretting about the meaning of his life. Kill Bill isn’t as pretentious as that, but it sure don’t have dynamic brevity.
Here’s the pickle that Quentin has got himself into: he’s become a world famous cinematic rock and roller. He wants to make a film that rips off (read ‘celebrates’, read ‘homage’; better still, read ‘long masturbation ritual’) all the crappy kung-fu films he’s watched over the years.
This is not the very freshest idea for such a towering hipster as Quentin, but its the only one he’s got. Course, if you’re going to make such a movie-- endlessly violent; one dimensional plot-- you better make it short and sweet; about 85 minutes I should say. But cinematic hipsters can’t make movies that slight and brief! Even if that is all their slight and brief idea is worth.
So Quentin gets to work on his trademarks: pointless (in the case of Kill Bill) flashbacks, scenes that go on too long-- nobody minds because when they go for that long, he rewards his audience with some heavy injuries being handed
out; crass jokes; a small smattering of off-the-wall dialogue (formerly Tarantino’s masterstroke, it’s in short supply here); flashy cinematography and baroque martial arts bouts on an ante that he thinks he is thrillingly upping each time one occurs.
There’s only one trouble with all this fun, man: it’s boring. Uma hacks her way around (she’s nice to watch for a while) in balletic sequence after balletic sequence of fight-arranging ingenuity and blood- spurting savagery (there’s cascades, fountains of blood which didn’t give the audience I was
with the vicarious thrill that Tarantino has insisted it will. In fact, when one man is disembowelled at a bar by a seventeen-year-old girl and an deluge of plasma hits the floor, me and my compadres heard the coke-swilling baseball cap-wearing thrill seeker behind me yawn. I smiled in the darkness.)
It ends in a big and bloody fight. Only it don’t end, there’s Vol 2 as well.
I thought for one horrible moment, when Uma had prevailed over several hundred Yakuza and was on plane consulting her revenge list, that we were in for more but happily, the credits rolled. I turned to my two companions (both Tarantino fans) and said: ‘how do you feel?’
Relieved that Uma wasn’t going on, right now, to do the rest of the list.
Now, I hope that Tarantino and his producer planned to release the film in two bits. Because if the wunderkid conceived this as one three-hour plus film, then he has degenerated into a serious bore.
So, loud and clear, I’m not being a fogey (though I could take issue with the usual bout of childish Tarantino sadism: a four-year-old girl watching her mother being stabbed to death), I know its a comic but it is a crappy comic. This be the song of Hollywood itself nowadays: too much money and no ideas. Dragging what used to be a nerdy sideshow of culture
into the mainstream for lack of anything else to do. I was going to conclude with the old school report admonishment ‘must try harder’, but that could be
disastrous advice for Mr T.