Monday, May 24, 2004

STRANGE DAYS INDEED..., PART 2

Quote of the Day

"I was a big supporter of the war (in Iraq), but now
I'm starting to feel foolish."
--CNN's conservative commentator, Tucker Carlson on Salon.com

The Long-Delayed, Now Completely Irrelevant Review of KILL BILL,Vol. 2

Well, I finally saw the second part of Quentin Tarantino's grindhouse opus, KILL BILL this weekend. Ask any of my friends and they would tell you that I was fanboycrazy to see this movie, more excited to see Volume 2 than I was any part of the the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Lost In Translation or the Paris Hilton sex video (which gave new meaning to the term "sucked", but I digress).

Anyway, perhaps I expected too much, based on the kickass, hyperstylistic Part One, but while Volume Two is undeniably a good movie, it's not good enough to stand on it's own. It is also a strangely lifeless piece of work at times, surprising coming from a filmmaker who usually invests every frame of the celluloid with vitality, wit and invention (OK, that's a bit much maybe, but Tarantino is probably the most interesting film writer-director to emerge since the great Indie/foreign "Second New Wave" of the mid-80's, which included Jane Campion, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee, Mike Leigh and Steven Soderbergh, just to name a few).

STOP READING HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE MOVIE! As the movie begins, The Bride (Uma Thurman) has already dispatched two of her fellow former Deadly Viper Assassins and has two to go plus the eponymous head of the secret squad, all of them responsible for violently attacking her, her unborn child and slaughtering her whole wedding party in Volume One. From the start, I knew Tarantino had changed things up in Volume Two, and not necessarily in a good way--it opens with a (too) long flashback shot in gritty, black-and-white and paced like something out of a second rate Wim Wenders film. Eventually, The Bride catches up to Budd (Michael Madsen), who invests his villanous redneck with a surprising amount of sympathy and after another long, but much more entertaining flashback, she cheats death and meets her blonde archrival played by Daryl Hannah. The fight scenes in Volume Two are just as brutal and well-choreographed as in Volume One, but they are much shorter and less elaborate, something else that was disappointing. I liked the final showdown with Bill (David Carradine), although even here it is a bit too talky. There are also a couple of surprise revelations, which I won't go into here, even though one of them is stated pretty strongly at the end of Volume One.

A couple of things I do like better in Volume II--Uma Thurman's character is fleshed out and the greater range and depth suits her. This is her finest performance on film so far. I would actually support an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for her (although it's too early to talk about that). Also, the soundtrack and score are even more impressive than in the first movie.

Still, bottom line is if you haven't seen either movie, wait until Miramax puts together the definitive DVD version. That will probably unite the two movies and trim the fat. If you're going to see it in the theaters, it might be a better value if you HAVEN'T seen Volume One, because you won't compare it to the energy and pacing of the first one.

Tomorrow, back to politics and current events...good night!
Dissents and Laments

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