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Kill Bill Counter Public Service Announcement

Every time somebody says something like this:

It’s really for the best if you ignore the people who didn’t like Kill Bill Volumes One and Two, which taken together comprise one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

It’s really for the best if you ignore them! Sean Collins said that. Why, I can’t imagine. Maybe he’s joking, but he mostly just sounds indignant. I guess he thinks only people who agree with him are worth paying attention to. How boring.

He also says:

I do, however, wish I knew how people can watch a movie in which bad behavior occurs and, because they find the film amusing on some level, deduce that that bad behavior is being endorsed–particularly in an oeuvre like Tarantino’s, in which characters who refuse to renounce violence and deceit are inevitably punished for that refusal.

Now, I personally didn’t find the “bad behavior” (I guess that would include raping a comatose woman, as well as the comotase woman eating off her rapist’s face, both pretty bad behavior) amusing, and I didn’t think the bad behavior was endorsed, so that’s fine. Actually, scratch that, a lot of the Bride’s bad behavior was most certainly endorsed, or at least looked upon with some approval by Tarantino—and members of the audience. Actually, the way Sean puts it here, which isn’t really a way I’d thought about it before, makes the movie seem way more fucked up than I thought at first—it gives us violent setpieces which are filmed in such a way as to entertain and exhilarate us, and then it says “Oh, but this violent which is so exciting and fun to watch is bad! These characters must be punished!”

I wish I knew why Quentin Tarantino and people in the audience Rose and I watched it with find this movie so amusing.

Oh, and pointing out other movies that immorally play gratuitous violence for laughs doesn’t exactly absolve Kill Bill… or maybe Tarantino does it morally?

And really, I came out of the theater thinking Kill Bill Vol. 2 was much better than Kill Bill Vol. 1, which I sort of liked but had lots of problems with, and I thought “Hey, get rid of that stupid Buck chapter and Kill Bill works pretty well,” but it’s such a frustrating movie, and I can’t figure out if it’s good frustrating or bad frustrating. I fear it’s both, and I fear Tarantino didn’t think it was supposed to be frustrating at all.

I do hope we get to hear why Kill Bill is one of the best movies Sean has ever seen. And Sean, I am curious, given your outspoken views on feminism and misogyny in movies like Dogville, to hear your thoughts on the issue of sexual and sexually violent exploitation of women characters for entertainment.


  1. J.W. Hastings says:

    I had a similar reaction to Sean’s post.

    I think Tarantino makes “autistic” movies. He has talent, but the scenes in his movies to refer to anything besides scenes in other movies. I think the audiences who respond positively to his movies get this, that is, they don’t take any of it seriously. Unfortunately, Tarantino and his supporters seem to want us to take it seriously. That’s why it can be so frustrating: the fun of watching a cool fight scene is ruined by the movie’s insistence of its own importance. And when you look at the substance of what the movie has to say it gets pretty ugly.


    — 22 April 2004 at 2:55 pm (Permalink)

  2. David says:

    My oh my this Kill Bill discussion is getting pretty tricky!

    I’m in a weird place with the movie(s)… I enjoyed them hugely on a purely stylistic level – it looked great, and while I didn’t get half of the references, I enjoyed the magpie aesthetic – but yeah, these movies are pretty damned weird thematically.

    Basically, I think I’m saying that I enjoyed Kill Bill Vols 1 & 2 in pretty much the way that J.W. describes in his above post, but not to the degree that I can entirely block out the more troubling aspects of the stories (especially in the light of the oddness that was volume 2).

    I feel especially weird commenting here because I thought Kill Bill was pretty damned funny in places… Vol 1 more so than Vol 2. It was the staging that I found amusing – the sheer OTT absurdity of it all was pretty “cartoony”, and was often done with what seemed to me to be a good sense of comic timing. However, there is much in the two movies to make me feel uncomfortable with this/come out of the detatched viewing mode I was in most of the time. The Buck stuff isn Vol 1 was very unsettling, yes, and pretty much most of the violence in Vol 2 had this effect on me also (perhaps because most of the violence in Vol 1, the opening fight excluded, either took place in an anime flashback or featured a huge number of opponents while the violence in Vol 2 was much more constantly “personal”, it seemed to me).

    I dunno… the violence in these movies is very weirdly handled. It’s hugely stylised and rediculous, but yet there’s always this emphasis on the sheer… physicality of the violence that sits oddly with this.

    Heh - as I think is probably becoming very obvious, I’m not sure exactly what I think about Kill Bill.

    Anyways, I’ve got the flu and am rambling, so I’ll shut up now.

    Glad you two, J.W. Hastings and everyone else are analyising the movies though – it’s making for some interesting reading!


    — 23 April 2004 at 11:15 am (Permalink)

  3. Steven says:

    I found parts of Kill Bill funny too. And it did look good, and I can appreciate many individual images, scenes and stylistic flourishes, but I want aesthetic structure too! And it’s elusive, if not entirely absent. So yeah, I’m not sure what to think of the movie either, although I’m leaning toward “Tarantino is a fine stylist but forgot about aesthetics.”

    — 24 April 2004 at 1:52 am (Permalink)