Kill Bill Vol. 1

(US - 2003)

by Matt White & Mike Lorefice

Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Vivica A. Fox, Darryl Hannah, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Gordon Liu Chia-hui
Genre: Martial Arts
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Cinematography: John Richardson
Composer: The Rza
Runtime: 111 minutes

MW: Director Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill series of films are all about synthesis. For years, from his early fame in 1992 to the present he has talked about his love for the martial arts genre, Italian "spaghetti" westerns, "blaxploitation" (or American exploitation in general) and pretty much anything 1950`s (from biker gangs to Elvis Presley). In Kill Bill, he tries to combine all these elements in to one feature, once again trying to add verve to a genre that is dying. For the most part, he pulls it off but in the end Kill Bill (both volumes) fails to offer a complete fresh perspective that Tarantino's previous films provided.

ML: Kill Bill mostly tries to be a homage to what Tarantino calls 70's grindhouse cinema, and in some ways it brings back the glory, if one can call it that, of those sleazy action movies. However, it too often seems to be what has replaced those raw low budget films that weren't for the mainstream audience, glossy overly planned quick cutting sequenceless action that looks and sounds like an MTV music video and is really aimed (despite the R rating) at a very young audience that supposedly just wants to see people that "look good" doing things that "look cool". It is not really an alternative, just more talent behind the same basic crap that is always in the theatres.

MW: Volume 1 is hurt by the fact that it is actually one part of a two-part film. If watched together, maybe the whole Kill Bill story would attain what Tarantino intended but presented in this format it becomes more of an Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi dynamic where the it is really difficult to judge each film on its own merit. Volume 1 is mainly all the action while Volume 2 fleshes out the story. From that perspective, Kill Bill is like Reservoir Dogs or Pulp Fiction because it is taking traditional action movie structure (where all the important action is at the end) and completely reversing it, by stacking it all at the front of the picture. However, we will have to wait until the special edition DVD for that. Now, we only have two films with Volume 1 being the action movie, a pretty good one at that when it comes to set pieces but not too great when it comes to suspense. Volume 1 also has Japan on the brain, while Volume 2 mainly stays in the American Southwest. So there is that differential to help separately view the films. Tarantino seems to understand action films and kung fu films in particular better than most but maybe that understanding and admiration hurt him the direction he wanted to go?

ML: Having not seen volume 2, it may be unfair to judge vol. 1. As you mentioned in an email, Tarantino worked on this film for years shooting one big epic. Martial arts epics are virtually non-existent, so even if it wasn't a great one, it would have been something of an accomplishment to just put out a 4 hour martial arts film, especially in the US. But, as we learned with Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, there is no chance for a great epic to be made in Hollywood right now because it's all about the dollar, and that kind of length essentially means the most money put out. Allowing Harvey Scissorhands to chop it in half essentially doubled their money, and that's all any big studio cares about.

MW: Vol.2 is completely different in every aspect. So if you look at from the perspective of 1 film, the first 100 minutes (Vol.1) is a set-up for the second half of the film which is really the meat of the piece. There are really no major action pieces in the Vol.2, thus making believe that The House of Blue Leaves duel was the major set piece of the movie (which would have been in the middle). I think Gangs of New York is the reason this movie was split in two. Harvey was going to finally have his "great epic," made at the hands of his favorite director but because he invested so much, he meddled in Scorsese's every decision and basically prevented him from making the best movie he could. After the movie flopped in theatres, followed by the rising budget of Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain, the Mouse was really putting pressure on Harvey to tighten up the ship. He quickly realized that Kill Bill as a complete film could make about $70 million max (it cost about $60 million, which is cheaper than most big action movies these days), so he decided to get more bang for the buck by convincing Tarantino to cut it in half.

ML: I thought all of Minghella's previous films were overrated (Truly Madly Deeply was more than worthwhile though), but Cold Mountain was the only film up for a lot of awards in 2003 to get excited about. It was epic in the best sense of the word with spectacle that was spectacular, characters that actually had characteristics that made them seem like human beings, and emotion that was actually emotional. Now, if only someone told Nicole Kidman that she wasn't showing up to an awards show until after she finished filming (or they cast someone who would have taken looking like she was from the 1860's seriously, say Kate Winslet or Susan Lynch), the film film would have had some real credibility (the way Heartland did) instead of being the usual Hollywood gloss where the leading lady looks like she's never done a moments work in her life.

MW: Born in Tennessee but raised in LA by his single mom, Quentin Tarantino seemed marked by Hollywood at birth by being named after a Burt Reynolds character on Gunsmoke. Going to the movies often in the movie mad 1970`s, Tarantino developed a love for exploitation cinema of all genres, ranging from horror to kung fu. He grew particularly fond of Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma when they were at their filmmaking best. Tarantino also developed a love of studio era Hollywood (particularly the films of Howard Hawks) and foreign cinema ranging from the French New Wave of Jean Luc-Godard to the Italian suspense stylist Dario Argento. Growing up in urban LA also produced a love soul music and disco and maybe his love of rockabilly (Elvis in particular) came from his Tennessee roots.

In the 1980`s, this love of film led to his getting a job at the Manhattan Beach based video store Film Archives. It was here where he met Roger Avary, his future writing partner. It was also here that he began making his first film entitled "My Best Friend's Birthday," a film that he decided would be his first feature, shot on weekends (much like Scorsese shot his first film, Who's That Knocking at My Door?) but found disaster upon seeing all the footage after it was processed and developed. He then wrote two screenplays in Natural Born Killers and True Romance, both of which he wanted to direct when he sold them but ended up being cut out of the process.

His directorial debut came about when he met producer Lawrence Bender through his friend, director Scott Spiegal (who made the horror film Intruder with Bender). Tarantino purposely wrote Reservoir Dogs to be a low budget debut film and the script was good enough to get a commitment from Harvey Keitel, which brought in funding from Live Home Video (now Artisan Entertainment) and later theatrical distribution from Miramax.

Even though crime films are fairly common on the Indie/Home video market today, at the time Reservoir Dogs shocked most people who watched it at the Sundance Film Festival. The festival, mainly known for launching Sex, Lies and Videotape, primarily exhibited small regional dramas and quirky movies looking for nationwide exhibition, and seemed an unlikely home for a film with a high quotient of blood and foul language. In what seems to predict the high blood count of Kill Bill, Tarantino said at a Sundance press conference he liked violence but found the Merchant/Ivory stuff, "offensive."

ML: The highlight of the Reservoir Dogs Special Edition is the interview with Alex Rockwell where he talks about how pathetically commercial and superficial the Sundance Film Festival became once films like Dogs put it on the map as one of the main places big distributors could find inexpensive films (the more commercially oriented of the English language films, think Memento) they could potentially make a killing on. Well, it's a lowlight really since it's so true that the art, or what's passing for it, is taking a back seat to the National Enquirer favorites the people who like cinema are supposed to despise for being a bunch of phony posers that are only known because they make every concession possible.

MW: That's a great DVD! When Sex, Lies and Videotape sold for so much money in 1989 after Sundance, it was obviously going to start a snowball effect. It suddenly became the hot place to find new movies. Now you have blockbuster video and GAP sponsoring the festival and showing movies that will probably go directly to Blockbuster shelves to begin with. But that is the evolution of successful things: A small group of people like something, then it grows in popularity and finally mainstream America catches on and everybody jumps on the bandwagon to make a quick buck.

ML: Something starts out really great precisely because it's not for everyone, it's for a precise audience that appreciates what it has to offer and doesn't have any need or desire for it to be anything more. Then the people in charge get delusions of grandeur thinking they've potentially got a goldmine on their hands. Suddenly they are trying to appeal to everyone, which completely alienates their fanbase because then it's no longer about what it's supposed to be about, and what made it good is replaced by a bunch of hype, hoopla, and nonsense trying to con people into thinking it's what it was before everyone heard about it except now better because everyone is included. Inclusive is good for politics, but for entertainment you lose all the differentiation and nuance and wind up with endless rehashes of the most popular stuff to the point whatever is most popular is not only no longer exciting but in fact incredibly boring.

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ML: A more relevant aspect that's discussed somewhere in the Reservoir special features is the tension that film had. It's just an electric piece of work with their conversation that diverts from the plot actually adding that much more heat because you know they are killing time waiting for what they fear will not be a positive outcome. Bill, unfortunately has no suspense or tension whatsoever. Sure, they try to drum it up now and then, but only with the same basic wholly contrived stuff we've seen a million times before. For the most part, Thurman just plows through everyone at a pace that makes taking out the thugs in Double Dragon seem to take an eternity. There was so little reason to care I had to practically prop my eyes open to make it through the action sequences that didn't directly involve the three main characters or Kuriyama.

MW: I didn't think it was a completely pathetic diversion like the Coen's and Intolerable Cruelty. I look at Vol.1 as a love letter to Japanese/Blaxploitation action films of the 70`s. He was trying to make a kung fu film, where suspense really isn't what's important but how the action goes down is. In the Matrix sequels, the Wachowskis just threw a bunch of Kung Fu out there without ever changing it up. It worked for the first movie, because it was different, but for 2 and 3, they just kept doing the same thing. For example, in Drunken Master 2, the first fight between Jackie and Lau Kar Leung (under the train) is shot in the classical Shaw style of long takes and using traditional weapons. Then there is the fight in the middle, where he actually drinks alcohol and dispenses of the henchmen using various objects. Finally in the climax, it's Jackie's frenetic style. Tarantino seems to understand the formula better, in that every fight has to have a different texture. At least in Kill Bill, he changes it up. It's not a perfect movie, but I enjoyed it, and wasn't disappointed at all. It wasn't like Blade 2, which I really wanted to like, but in the end just couldn't. I recommend Vol. 2 now that it's on DVD, just for Gordon Liu's 5-minute performance alone. David Carradine is pretty good too (and I never thought I'd write that).

MW: However, any notoriety he would gain with Reservoir Dogs would be dwarfed with Pulp Fiction. In interview after interview he would talk about the influences of kung fu and blaxploitation films and how they did not teach Dario Argento at UCLA film school. The film went on to gross more than a $100 million and Miramax (who funded the film) became known as, "The House that Quentin built." It was during the downtime between Pulp Fiction and his next movie, Jackie Brown, that he began crafting the script for what would become Kill Bill. During this period he also began championing Hong Kong films like Chungking Express and the Jet Li vehicle Fist of Legend. He said that he wanted to make films like those of Jean Pierre Melville (who put French spin on American gangster stories) by working in genres and just adding twists to them. His first three films accomplished this by taking traditional genre conventions and giving fresh perspectives. In Kill Bill, it seemed that he was setting out to the same with the kung fu/action genre (the one genre he claims to love so much but had yet to make a film about) but he did not accomplish what he did with his former films.

ML: One of the things that set Tarantino apart was the quality of the performances. Even the genre legends that he admired like Argento, Leone, and De Palma weren't known for the acting in their films (De Palma was capable as shown by his early films with Robert De Niro and the mid period work with Al Pacino, though in those days both were always highly effective, but if you were talking about the acting in one of his films before the final paragraph or two it wasn't one of his more successful ones), it was how they shot them and put them together. Dogs was a low budget film that was memorable in that regard (though not as much so), but it had a great script so he was able to put together a tremendous cast. He wasn't able to pay them much, but if you get actors at the right point in their career or that just want to be involved with something that isn't a complete waste of time, you don't have to pay well. Every good actor will more or less tell you that the better from a potential to give a good performance standpoint the less it's likely to pay. The reason Dogs is Tarantino's best film is you have all those great actors who are perfectly cast and working with material that allows them to perform to the best of their ability. Each of his subsequent films relied more on bigger names that were worse actors (Travolta, Thurman, etc), though there were still plenty of independent stars used as character actors, and they were able to make themselves memorable in their now smaller role. He also resurrected some careers (unfortunately Travolta rather than better actors like Greer and Forster) rather than just casting the flavor of the month like most of the other directors in his position would have.

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I would normally say one of the biggest problems with Vol. 1 is that there arguably isn't a good actor other than Michael Madsen, who doesn't have the opportunity he had in Dogs, and in fact is barely in the film. However, it's not the lack of quality actors; it's that there almost isn't a script. No actor could have done anything with what they had to work with, because the characters were all cutouts that showed up spouted a line or two of nonsense and then had a fight. There was no reason to care about any of them, you just sat back and watched a lot of showoffy carnage. Now, I like martial arts movies so I don't have a problem with there just being a bunch of action, and as usual the plot was so typically moronic that the less glorification of pointless thickskulled macho bullshit motives we got the better, but Tarantino is better than that. This is one of the few guys that understands people don't talk about the plot, and he has a gift for dialogue that is both hilarious and rings true of what actual human beings might talk about instead of guiding the dopes in the audience through the plot like the rest of the films. Unfortunately, Tarantino has thrown out what made him a great and just opted to try to match the screenplay mediocrity of insert your favorite 70's B action film.

MW: Kill Bill Volume 1 (V1) opens with the Shaw Brothers intro and is then followed by a 70`s era "Now for our feature presentation," slate. This clearly shows the key influences on this film (70`s action and kung fu) but if there is any doubt where Tarantino intends to head with the film, it is erased by the dedication of the film to Japanese genre director Kinji Fukusaku, whose last whole film (Battle Royale) is a cousin of Kill Bill. How is it a cousin? Battle Royale, like Kill Bill V1, is a movie with a fairly comic book plot, but with realistic violence, giving the film that much more impact. Tarantino takes it one step further by trying to add real life character dimensions to these practically comic book characters and situations.

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ML: I thought Battle Royale was a far more effective film. It certainly had a comic book aspect to it, but it was an imaginable nightmare, and one that had a good deal of originality to it. You never felt like you saw that film before, and although it had some of the same weaknesses like the overreliance on violence (that at times was not more realistic but simply over the top) and mostly weak performances (Takeshi Kitano is tremendous), it wasn't that predictable. It hurt that it was obvious almost no one would survive, but you at least got to know the characters before they died to the point you had a chance to care for them, and it was rarely obvious when they were going to be offed. In Kill Bill most of the deaths happen almost as soon as the characters are introduced. I know QT was doing swordfighting the Japanese way with the quick brutal deaths, and Sonny Chiba was cast as a nod to those films like Street Fighter, but those Chiba films had some amazing longer fights as well. There's nothing in Kill Bill that approaches the fight Chiba has with the leader of the dojo who soon becomes his ally, everything in Kill Bill is done in a style that's more disemboweled than the characters that have just been offed. Some of this can be blamed on the Motion Picture Annihilators of America, who demanded so many cuts (of course had to be followed because Miram-ax's contract with Disney doesn't allow them to release anything beyond an R rating). But the whole film is overly gimmicked because these days it's too much to ask for some actual martial artists in martial arts movies. I'd sacrifice quality in the fights for actors if they were going to be given a chance to act, but this is more of the worst of both worlds, bad fighters who don't get the opportunity to make up for it. I can't stand these newer martial arts movies that ask us to sacrifice all the quality in acting and action so they can simply fill the screen with a bunch of model types. This film was like Charlie's Angels if Charlie's Angels wasn't the typical vanity fest and was actually made by someone competent.

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MW: The first fight between Vivica A. Fox`s Vernita Green and Uma Thurman`s "The Bride," is halted because Vernita`s daughter enters the house. Vernita and Uma then have a conversation about revenge and then discuss how they are going to resume the fight in the evening, dressed in black, at the baseball diamond where Vernita coaches little league. After killing Vernita is a poignant scene involving Sonny Chiba as sword maker Hattori Hanzo, who agrees to make a sword for Uma as penance for the sin of training Bill.

ML: Green's daughter showing up is a half hearted attempt at John Woo's strategy of making us care by dragging in innocents. The scene with Chiba is about the only attempt for anything contemplative, but it's so halfhearted and rushed. In a better martial arts movie, Chiba's character would hold out until Thurman's character proved some honor and worth. Granted Tarantino was in Leone mode so the hero was going to be almost as bad as the villains are, but does this scene actually make anyone believe the master swordcrafter would decide to come out to retirement after all these years?

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MW: However, after this the movie abandons this realist take on comic book characters with the introduction of the main villain of the movie, O-Ren Ishii (played by Lucy Liu). With exception to the anime short providing the history of O-Ren, the character does not seem like much of a threat and is pretty much a cookie cutter villain (inspired by the 70`s Lady Snowblood movies). Not to mention, the whole premise of her character being discriminated against in the Yakuza because of her Chinese ancestry is completely ludicrous. A good number of the Yakuza hierarchy was of Korean descent and currently a high number of the bosses are Chinese. But that is all technical details.

ML: This was more bunk, but the animation was the most inspired portion of the movie.

MW: The introduction of O-Ren`s character (and Japan proper in general) is an interesting choice. Honestly, I did not particular like the style of the animation but that comes after years of being weaned on normal anime, I guess. But the choice of using it as the medium of introduction is interesting because most people these days are getting their first introductions of Japan and Japanese culture through anime. Clearly anime is about as good a representation of Japanese culture and values as Hollywood is a representative of American culture and values. By using a form of artifice to introduce the audience to Japan, Tarantino is telling the audience that the Japan of this film is not the "real" Japan. He even adds to that by having the view of Tokyo from The Bride's plane actually be a model of the Tokyo cityscape (built by the same Toho effects crew that works on the Godzilla films), rather than use a helicopter to cruise over the "real," Tokyo skyline. The Japan The Bride is entering, is not the "real," Japan but the comic book version of Japan as seen in anime, Godzilla films and the Karate films of Sonny Chiba (in a way, with The Bride meeting Chiba in Okinawa, he acts as the gatekeeper for her entering Japan).

2003 was actually a banner year for Japan in Hollywood cinema. There was the beautifully photographed but all surfaces Tom Cruise vehicle The Last Samurai. Also there was the academy award winning comedy Lost in Translation, set in urban Tokyo. Finally there was Kill Bill Volume 1. Of the three, I think Kill Bill V1 is probably the most honest of the three. Tarantino admits from the beginning this is not the real Japan (in fact, with exception to two days of exteriors in Tokyo, all the Japanese interiors were shot in China) but rather the comic book fantasyland he grew up with in the cinema. Last Samurai is basically a western fantasy of what an American might think of traditional Japan if they only read Shogun or watched Kurosawa films. However, that movie was shot in New Zealand and tried to speak for the Samurai class, and mocked the Meiji Restoration (where the Shogunate and Samurai class were abolished) something the Japanese regard as an important turning point in their history (but the film was still a success in Japan because of a major star like Cruise giving Japan the rub). Lost in Translation is even worse because it takes place in modern day Japan, trying to be a "real," film with "real," characters but fails miserably by justifying the stereotype of Japanese as these little gnome like people that can not pronounce their R`s correctly. Kill Bill V1 does not even try to be representative.

ML: Lost in Translation was by far the worst of the three, a complete embarrassment. What passed for best screenplay was more like someone who just got off the plane for their first visit to Japan filming some people doing things they weren't used to and then sending the tape to a funniest home videos show hoping they could win a few bucks. The things they mocked are familiar to anyone that's seen even a few hours of Japanese television, and once you've seen or heard them a few times whatever comic luster there might have been is gone. In 2003 we can't find anything funnier than countries that predated the USA using a different alphabet than ours? And if any country is going to make fun of another country on pronunciation, it should at least be one where most of the people can actually pronounce something foreign that has more than three letters.

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MW: This all leads to the final climax that is expertly choreographed by Yuen Woo-ping where The Bride takes on mace wielding school girl named Go-Go Yubari (played ironically enough by Battle Royale`s Chiaki Kuriyama) and Johnny Mo (kung fu film legend Gordon Liu) and his Crazy 88 guard. The climax is quite a relief from a lot of the computer laden, bullet time, quick cut, shaky cam ridden martial arts scenes that plague Hollywood today. Tarantino opts for a little wires but he uses on set prosthetics rather than computer generated limbs and blood adding a layer of brutality. Unfortunately, this makes the final showdown between The Bride and O-Ren seem just like mere formality.

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ML: What's good about Kill Bill is Tarantino didn't make it like every crummy fighting movie you see today. The special effects have the potential to be something special because they aren't more of that obviously fake video game stuff that takes you right out of the film. The fighting is actually something of a sequence rather than a series of single moves cut together into a big incoherent mishmash of nothing. And it's done in real time so you can actually believe it's happening rather than laughing at people dancing in fast forward. I could go on, but essentially the way Tarantino made the film gave it the potential to be memorable. The problem is it takes years of training and expert timing to pull that off. Just look at Jackie Chan My Stunts where Chan is fighting a real martial artist on the roof, but the guy can't get the timing and footwork of the sequences right so Chan has to get one of his stunt team to double. Now imagine we take Chan, the stunt team guy, and the real martial artist out of the equation and replace them with two actors who have a few months training, trying to learn the martial arts themselves at the same time they learn how to cleverly fake sequences involving those arts. The sequences are so obviously choreographed it's depressing, with only Thurman vs. Kuriyama rising to the level of worth seeing. Their fight was good, but lessened by the fact Kuriyama had no actual importance and was a small part of a huge fight where Thurman had to go through Liu's entire army before taking her out in the complete DUD of a don't blink your eyes or you'll miss fight that thanks to Scissorhands passes for the grand finale of Vol. 1.

MW: I think it is more than just bringing in a guy like Yuen Woo-ping or Cory Yuen and having them use proper martial artists. I think it needs a complete structural overhaul if you want to get near the quality they have in Hong Kong and such. At Shaw Brothers, the cinematographers knew the martial arts as well, so they could match the choreography with the visuals. The knew the visual rhythm of the fighting. They also spend a remarkable amount of time on choreography that is not spent in Hollywood. Jackie Chan spent 3 months alone doing the climax of Drunken Master II. In Hollywood, the lack of proper developmental time leads to guys like Yuen and Sammo Hung cutting corners by just imitating stuff they`ve already done. Lastly, the fight scenes are usually directed by the martial arts choreographer. He helps collaborate with the Director of Photography on the set-ups rather than director. Even auteurs like Wong Kar-wai followed this process by having Christopher Doyle and Sammo Hung handle the action while he only concerned himself with the drama. Sometimes it also leads to the choreographer taking over the film (like Yuen Woo-ping taking over Fist Of Legend from Gordon Chan). But Hollywood is totally set in its ways, and if you don`t fit in to their math equation then too bad.

MW: Another problem with this climax (and hurting the film in general) is that it is not too entirely different than a lot of the stuff going on now. The beauty of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown are their uniqueness in a cinema of the same old stuff. When Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were released, crime comedy was not an exploding genre. Today, Hong Kong staples like Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Yuen Woo-ping work consistently in Hollywood. They work on popular mainstream movies like the Matrix trilogy and Charlie's Angels series. In effect, the Wachowski Brothers of Matrix fame beat Tarantino to the punch by making wire kung fu cool in Hollywood. Even if Kill Bill is better than pretty much all the Hollywood based kung fu action movies, it still does not stand out greatly from the pack (except it might have more support from critics and cinephile crowd than the generic action pictures normally do).

ML: Another thing that was good about Kill Bill is it wasn't a bunch of wire fu. There was more of that than I'd like to see, since a single wiring is too much unless it's the Jackie Chan bump wirings where they tug the guys legs to help them take a more pronounced bump, but overall the fights were far more believable than what Hollywood and Hong Kong has been putting out in the last decade. In that respect, some of the quicker cuts did help, but not to the extent that not using the old Hong Kong idea that learning the martial arts magically gives you the ability to fly did.

MW: In the end, the film just fails to take on a character of its own, unlike Tarantino's other movies. Maybe he just loved the genre too much to completely dismantle it? Who knows? The film borrows from an array of movies like Karate Warriors, Lady Snowblood, Godzilla, and Game of Death but they just feel borrowed, not appropriated. That does not make it a bad movie in any sense, just a step down from Quentin Tarantino usually delivers.

ML: I think the influence of Godard is most apparent in Pulp Fiction, where Tarantino makes a movie that's not particularly about anything it's "supposed" to be about but is great because it's consistently compulsively interesting. Tarantino has said that he was really into Godard for a while, but not really anymore. That was too bad for this film because, while Godard might not have been totally successful when he'd try to reinvent a genre from the ground up, he always produced something that was, if nothing else, fascinating and original. These films were more loaded with nods and homage than perhaps anything ever filmed, but they were also Godard through and through. Tarantino's previous films were distinctly Tarantino, but Kill Bill could have been made by any of the hacks Hollywood employs today had it been agreed upon that they do the film something like they did in the 70's. In Jackie Brown you could see Jack Hill, but you saw something else distinct and far better than Jack Hill. Here you just see a compilation of the influences, which can be good for a film students first film but is a huge disappointment when a guy that's supposed to be the most unique filmmaker in Hollywood delivers this after 6 long years of waiting. Yes, the expectations with a Tarantino film have made it hard for the film to ever meet, and I agree with what you said to me in an email about not liking to box people in, but guys like Tarkovsky, Dreyer, Bresson, Kubrick, and Tati never returned with something generic.

MW: I saw a review of Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers (which I hope to see next week) stating that Tarantino just didn't do anything groundbreaking or original, he for the most part just tributed the whole time, while Yimou set out to make an original piece of material. I think, at least as far as Tarantino is concerned, that is the case. A comic artist once said that if you are doing an homage, it has to be really different than the source material so people don't see it as a poor imitation. With Tarantino's first three films, he did that. With Kill Bill, he fell a little short and it ended up seeming derivative.

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