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Kill Bill
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Just got back from Kill Bill (Vol. 1).

It was very good, I thought. Lots of gore, some very hokey and comic-bookish (e.g., when a limb gets hacked off, the stump sprays blood in a hyper-silly torrent of mist), some very realistic and disturbing (the movie starts with an extended closeup of Thurman's freshly bruised and bloodied face).

It's more like Pulp Fiction than either of Tarantino's other films, and it is what he does best...that is, pulp. And just like Pulp Fiction, we get asynchronous storytelling, but just like PF, it works. We even get nods to that film (like the ad for Red Apple cigarettes in a Japanese airport).

But I didn't think the dialogue was nearly as sharp or interesting as PF. Some of the dialogue is still very good, but we get nothing like the discussion of hamburgers in France, or why pigs are dirty animals...dialogue that was interesting in an of itself, but was even better at fully fleshing out the characters in the context of the film.

Instead, there's much more action in this film, which is meant as another form of dialogue. And I have to say I was a little disappointed in the actual fight sequences. Tarantino is much better at building up tension and imbuing a single action with significance (e.g., the injection into the heart scene, or the cutting off of a cop's ear in Reservoir Dogs) than he is at directing balls-out action. Granted, he does a better job than most, but many of the fights still feel a little muddled and uneven (especially the final sequence with Lucy Liu). The first fight scene is extremely well-done, and the best action sequence is probably The Bride's fight with GoGo, a crazed Japanese schoolgirl with a mechanical ball and chain. But a lot of the action looked rushed and quick-cut. I don't know if this was from Tarantino wanting to use a fight-double for Thurman as little as possible, but it's obvious she is not trained in swordplay. I was looking forward to the sort of female-on-female action that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon served up, but there weren't any fight scenes in Kill Bill that even came close to matching, for example, the dojo fight scene between the two female leads in CTHD.

That said, it was still a hell of a good time. It's schlock, but you can tell that Tarantino loves schlock (in much the way that you can feel that a writer like Stephen King loves the source material he draws from). And that gives Tarantino's films a life and energy that way too many films these days lack.

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