Friday, April 16, 2004

The movie critics of America, who came out of the closet as anti-violence zealots a few months ago with the release of "The Passion of the Christ," are now issuing reviews on the latest Quentin Tarantino offering, "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," which opens today. Their verdict? They love it, of course.

According to CNN's Paul Clinton:
...Tarantino takes the audience back to the chapel where the first film began. But this time he takes us back just a bit earlier, to the point right before the Bride and her wedding party were gunned down by Bill's assassination squad in "Vol. 1."
Presumably, the gunning down of a wedding party was rather violent in the first film, which according to reports at the time employed more fake blood (over 1000 gallons) during shooting than any other film in history. Nonetheless, Clinton says that "Vol. 2" is "a rip-roaring, highly entertaining, extremely enjoyable continuation to 'Vol. 1'..."

Jami Bernard of the New York Daily News really had her panties wadded up in a bunch over the violence in "The Passion." In February, Bernard (author of the book Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies) said of Mel Gibson's film, "The violence is grotesque, savage and often fetishized in slo-mo." And she ominously warned that "No child should see this movie. Even adults are at risk."

On the other hand, while she doesn't think that "Kill Bill, Vol. 2" is all that great a movie ("it has no heart"), she oddly doesn't seem to have a big problem with its violence. She doesn't even warn people that they are "at risk."

Speaking of the film's heroine, Bernard says:
In "Kill Bill: Vol. 2," she is shot, trussed, buried alive and spat upon.

She is beaten from here to next week by the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.

All this frenzy, all these "quotes" from other movies, and yet "Vol. 2" is strangely static - a dulling experience that can safely be admired from afar without it ever engaging the senses.
In addition to admiring the film from afar, Bernard also laments that it's no "Pulp Fiction," a film in which one character is accidentally shot in the head in a car, causing two other characters to have to spend a good deal of the movie removing the bloody pieces of his brain from the car's interior.

Houson Chronicle reviewer Eric Harrison in February gave "The Passion" a grade of F, criticizing the film's "obsessive need to zoom in and linger on bloodletting" and it's "caricatures of sadistic villains."

In his review of "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," (which he gives a B) Harrison chastizes Tarantino for not employing enough violence. "Too much talk," he says.
Vol. 1 was a kick, an hour-and-a-half adrenaline rush, but we missed Quentin Tarantino's way with words, his clever extravagance and raw effrontery, the irrelevant soliloquies on pop culture.

Vol. 2, which opens today, is filled with talk -- slooooow talk. There's so much blabbing, we want to cry out to the screen for swordplay, kung fu, arm wrestling -- anything but more talk.
The "anything" Harrison is pining for includes that 1000 gallons of movie blood spilled in the beloved "Vol. 1."

Peter Howell of the Toronto Star panned "The Passion," huffing:
The Passion is a two-hour snuff film, the spectacle of a man being brutally murdered in a public arena, created for the satisfaction of popcorn-chewing voyeurs.
Now, the queasy-about-violence Howell finds himself in the throes of ecstasy over "Kill Bill, Vol. 2," saying:
The violence of Kill Bill is not mindless, but motivated by a parent's love and a lover's rage. Or as Bill so succinctly puts it: "There are consequences to breaking the heart of a murderous bastard."

This justification may not entirely excuse the butchery - be warned, this is still a bloody affair - but it shows that Tarantino has come a distance from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, where it seemed that the killing was more for kicks.

Tarantino seems to view love as a form of sadism, but it is love nonetheless. And as he so thrillingly demonstrates in Kill Bill: Vol. 2, there is no emotion stronger than it.
And of course the list of examples goes on and on. As so often happens when one tries to go cold-turkey, the movie critics were only able to hold their staunch anti-violence stance through one weekend for one movie.

(UPDATE: LittleA also has another great example from Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter.)

No comments: