7 Random Thoughts about “Kill Bill, Vol. 2”

05Dec12

In anticipation of “Django Unchained,” I randomly re-watched “Kill Bill, Vol. 2.” And I don’t have anything to say about it.

Well, I do, actually. Here they are

1.) My Trailer Theory. I was set on watching “Vol 2” at the 10 minute mark of watching “Vol 1.” I realize in a completist, event-loving culture as we have that this isn’t a remarkable statement, but it’s true. I was set. A few months later, I saw the trailer for “Vol 2,” and thought, “Why am I watching this?” Trailers are commercials, designed to get people to buy a product (a ticket to this movie) by enticing them with the promise of entertainment. But I was already going to see it. I had already been enticed. I was only robbing myself of the in-movie joy of discovery ahead of me. It was from here that I adopted the strategy of avoiding trailers for movies I was already going to see. It’s largely served me well, as I applied it to “Revenge of the Sith,” the last two Batman’s, and now “Django.” I did, however, give myself a treat by reading the first scene from an internet-leaked copy of the screenplay. But then I stopped.  

2.) The Honor Code (aka the reason why Bud doesn’t kill The Bride when he has the chance). The Bride constantly seems to get herself into situations where people would rather talk than finish her off. Yet it never bothers me in “Kill Bill” like it does in, say “Dark Knight Rises.” I can think of a few reasons why it works here (one being the “This is a Movie Made of Movies” theory, which goes to say that monologuing happens in these kinds of movies, so it’s just part of it… but why would I tolerate it here and not in the end of “Rises?” I think it’s because the Nolan Batman movies strove so hard to be the kinds of films that were different from type that to include those old tropes stands out even worse than if it was consciously using them)… HOWEVER the in-story reason it works is the Code of Honor that permeates all the major characters of this story. It answers a lot of the “Why” questions. Killing must be done face to face. Avoid involving children. And don’t take unfair advantage. Bud shot the Bride with rock salt, tranquilized her and was going to bury her under the ground, but he’s still got his dignity. He holds back on spraying mace in her eye. Because of honor.

3.) Compare QT to “Glee” scenes. I’ve been doing a lot of comparing between films and TV shows, and this week I got a nice dose of it. I watched one of the latest episodes of “Glee,” in its fourth and strangest season, and as I was watching a group of “characters” (to use the term loosely) speak in these forced moralisms, saying exactly what they mean all the time, I got bored. Then I started thinking about “Kill Bill,” and how it’s not the greatest of all great movies, but it does contain some great scenes. And I started thinking that creating great scenes is kind of Tarantino’s top talent. It’s what he brings to the movie world. His movies feel great because he tends to write the best scenes.

What does this have to do with “Glee,” and comparing movies to TV? TV is a dialog driven medium, but scenes are not always dialog driven. Scenes are not always quick, and not always chatter chatter chatter. But almost ALL television scenes are quick and full of chatter. This was my realization: the medium of film allows for greater scenes than television allows. No, it’s not fair to compare one of the most distinct and entertaining voices in film to a show in what feels like a struggling season, and no, not all television sows are as, well, crappy as this season of “Glee.” But a lot of them are, so I’ll lump them together. It’s my site.

4.) Questions Answered Scenically. Putting the Bride in the coffin, under the ground, the question is: “How is she going to get out of this?” And we are shown with the Pai Mei sequence. And in answering that question (he taught her how to punch through wood from a very close proximity), we get a secret answer to another question that has been asked by both movies: how will she actually kill Bill?

5.) The No-Sword Killing of Bill? I like the 5-point-palm-exploding-heart technique, but isn’t it a little weird that — considering how much attention and screen time is given to the Hanzo sword the Bride acquires — the Bride doesn’t kill Bill with the sword. For all the time spent setting up that sword — and how important it is, how it’s made, how desired it is — you’d think it would play more of a part in the final showdown. And then it hits me: that would be expected. The 5-point… is less expected, at least on the first watch, and at least by me.

And when the Bride tells Pai Mei she is well trained in the “exquisite art of the Samurai sword,” he laughs at her, telling her that art is for Japanese fat heads. So I’m talking myself out of this opinion the more I think about it, because the ultimate victory should not come from how well someone forged a weapon for you, but from your character. Pai Mei never taught the technique anyone before The Bride. That’s what makes her special. Because she is special.

6.) Uma: Good Acting? Or Good Bad Acting? Or Bad Acting? Sometimes I think she’s marvelous, like when she’s playing younger as she arrives at Pai Mei’s place. But then other times she has to say things like “My pussy wagon died on me,” and “Five years ago if I had to make up a list of impossible things that would never happen, you performing the coup de gras on me by busting a cap in my crown would’ve been right at the top of the list,” and she’s kind of goofy. I want to believe that in the mouth of someone like Samuel L. Jackson, such lines would soar, but it also seems like an overly complicated, Diablo-Cody-style line, and Uma gets a bunch of them that she never quite nails. She nails many of the others, and she’s great at the physical stuff, but sometimes she seems so forced, I can’t tell if it’s a choice, the style, or what.

7.) Michael Madsen Trivia: It’s funny that in both this film and “Reservoir Dogs,” Madsen plays on-screen music before committing a horrible act of violence, but fails to kill his target. Just something I noticed.

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