Saturday, October 11, 2003

Kill Bill...Please!

I tried to like Kill Bill, but I didn't. There are two possibilities. One is that the movie is a self-indulgent, ultra-violent exercise in hype in which we don't really care much about the heroine except to wonder why she has lipstick on while in a coma. The second possibility, and I say this with great DREAD, is that I am simply not hip enough to get the movie.

Now I've been hip before. There was a period back in 1997-98 when I had several friends who were VERY MINOR CELEBRITIES! I lived with a woman for quite some time who worked for a guy who represents novelists whose books are being made into, films. Sorry. Hip people call them films. Check.

But what is supposed to set Kill Bill apart from the average Kung Fu/slasher film is that, besides the fact that the blood from severed limbs sprays farther than in most films, there are many, many references to 70's tv shows, kung fu flicks, films, music, etc. There is also some anime, which makes some of my former teenage students happy.

But, dear reader, this viewer did not get ANY of the references. The songs were familiar, and my friend Glenn recognized the opening number as a Sonny Bono song. Okay, I have to admit, you don't get much hipper than Sonny Bono (and whoever performed this version did a great job.) But I didn't get any other references. I know that the song that Darryl Hannah (as Elle, another of Bill's assassins) was whistling was significant, but I didn't recognize it. (I actually met Darryl Hannah once, outside the police center in L.A. at a protest after the Rodney King beating. I went over to talk to her and Alec Baldwin came over and said they had to leave. He was obviously THREATENED by her apparent interest in me. Oh...she hid it well, but how could she be candid with Alec so near by?)

I think the yellow jumpsuit Uma Thurman wore in one portion was a reference to Bruce Lee's last movie, but Glenn told me that one, too. (Quick aside....Lucy Liu should have been the Uma Thurman character. Uma brought more depth to certain scenes...for example, atypically for such a film, during breaks in the fighting as more people rushed into the fray, you could see a bit of nervousness. However, she just never seemed that TOUGH to me. Lucy Liu's little speech after collecting the head of a rebellious Yakuza boss was one of the highlights of the film. She is in touch with her DARK SIDE.)

But those are ALL the references I got! ALL. Other than the fact that the whole thing seemed to be a female, kung fu remake of Pulp Fiction, I didn't get any other references. NOT ONE. I also found myself not emotionally involved with Thurman's character AND the very discordant choices of music during many scenes took me right out of the movie as I sat there wondering, why is THIS music in this fight scene? What hip musical reference am I missing, here? I MUST be a REDNECK, a BUMPKIN, a RUBE....the "film text" is so easy for so many, and yet I have failed to unravel its semiotic mysteries.

There's one great musical riff (sorry, didn't stay for music credits) that is played as Liu and her gang walk into a night club. It is VERY COOL music, and has a very action-movie flavor and is featured in the film trailers. But it plays for maybe 20 seconds. I would have made it Thurman's music to play as she approached each fight scene, but that would be much too standard fare for Quentin. Far too predictable. It would make no IRONIC COMMENTARY.

People in our audience (those that didn't walk out) found much of the violence amusing. Maybe they were giggling nervously, as I did from time to time, at the violence. Maybe a spiked club stuck to an adolescent, anime girl's head, or the removal of Liu's scalp are inherently funny. Maybe these were references to other great FILMIC MOMENTS. Perhaps the Liu death was an HOMAGE to the movie HANNIBAL. But Hannibal was not made in the 70's and contains NO ANIME WHATSOEVER. So that CAN'T be the reference.

You see my dilemna. And maybe you will see the film. If any hip people read this Blog (and what hip people DON'T read blogs, I ask you?) please drop me a line and explain it to me.

Or not.


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