Saturday, April 17, 2004

the bride gets hers

QT is the best genre blender I have seen. What he pulled off in Kill Bill Vol I was a miracle of jaw-dropping carnage and homage. His audacity was evident and permeates into every foot of film in Vol II. Who else would have the gall NOT to mention the title of the flick at all in the opening credits (choosing instead to cut from UT's "I will kill Bill" to a stark dark in-keeping-with-the-noir-look title that reads "Vol. 2"). The second half of Tarantino's tribute to martial arts flicks, spaghetti westerns and myriad influences (like Ford's The Searchers?) is longer, has much less carnage (but what little exists is still shocking and well positioned), has a more diverse less "hook"y soundtrack (although there's more Morricone -- including a track I already own, yet again! -- and Bacalov, and a couple of old familiars from the first volume including Urami Bushim and Ironside). The film also marks a drastic shift in tone and pace. While the first one seems to have been a compendium of QT's fights and deaths, this one takes its time with characters (some new, some old) and lots of talk. I fear this may actually turn off quite a few fans of the first flick (and fans of QT, in general). While there's enough here to make this a worthy companion to Vol I (great dialogue including QT-style riffing on pop culture -- Bill's take on Superman, the excellently faithful Pai Mei chapter, the elements comprising the noir look and feel, the two long minutes of on-screen darkness accompanied by some very very effective diegetic sounds, that fabulous switch of film aspect ratios -- 1.33:1 was it?), the film does occasionally give me the impression that the splice was made at an inappropriate point. The two volumes seem a little off-balance (and there is definitely merit in this approach). However, it is still a very good reason to hit the theatres. Lots of changes to the original script. And you have to give it to QT for making Bill a very very interesting character -- taking him beyond being a "natural born killer" [although Bill uses the phrase to describe Beatrix] (was that pun intended?). And it's amazing how QT manages to pull it off with every character consciously articulating each word and phrase with a weight of "cool" importance. There are rumours of a Volume III (although several years later), but I hope QT manages to find another genre niche. Or perhaps something completely different. In the meantime, I'll wait patiently for the "authoritative" soundtrack release (and keep building my Morricone collection up on the side). Overall, I'm inclined to agree with James Berardinelli on the feeling of self-indulgence. And the math holds out as well: splicing the opus into two parts did give QT a chance to indulge in his creative excesses. Since QT has promised a release of the unified version (as originally planned), we might get a chance to take a look at what this film was meant to be.

About the only preview of interest was for the much-delayed American release of Zhang Yimou's Hero. The thing that made me sit up (aside from being able to watch the splendid visuals on the big screen) was the credit reading "Quentin Tarantino presents". Miramax had acquired the rights to this flick, and, as is common practice for the market-hungry profit-mongering Weinstein brothers, had stripped it down to 95 minutes. "QT sold out" I groaned. Turns out he didn't (should I have even doubted him??). What he did was insist that the original uncut version be released as is. Nice.

The music hunting has begun. Beginning with source information on the brief instrumental extract called The Chase [more]

Related: My take on Volume I

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