Stephen Speicher

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

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  1. 1. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

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120 posts in this topic

What? No April Fools notice here? This is real? OK, I'm going to rent this Tarentino thing tomorrow and see what the fuss is about.

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Oh, you're gonna love Tarantino. This guy takes incoherence and "jumping around" to new heights. He relates the Bills by means of "Chapters". Kill Bill 1 starts with Chapter 2 and you don't get Chapter 1 until Bill2. Or in other words you don't really know what the hell is going on in Bill1 until you've seen 2.  And even then you don't really know what the hell is going on.

That is, until Stephen explains it.

Therefore regular attendance at the newly formed Kill Bill Fan Club is mandatory.

Fred Weiss

Well, that probably kills it for me. I'm highly doubtful I'll like any of it in the first place. And then I have to think about all kinds of stuff that more than likely has no real meaning in the first place? I am actually having a hard time believing what anyone is saying about this movie. Incoherence? Since when is this a value in "art"? "Jumping around" in a storyline, sure, coherently. I mean, why, then are we not sitting around discussing Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or Clockwork Orange?

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What? No April Fools notice here? This is real? OK, I'm going to rent this Tarentino thing tomorrow and see what the fuss is about.

I was thinking the same thing. Actually, I've got an unopened copy of Kill Bill 2 sitting next to me right now that my sister got me for my birthday. I saw them both in the theatres but it seems that I missed a lot....

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Well, that probably kills it for me. I'm highly doubtful I'll like any of it in the first place. And then I have to think about all kinds of stuff that more than likely has no real meaning in the first place? I am actually having a hard time believing what anyone is saying about this movie. Incoherence? Since when is this a value in "art"?

In Kill Bill. If it totally made sense, you might be inclined to take it seriously, which you are not supposed to do. Think Monty Python, but only up to a point because it's not quite so obviously tongue-in-cheek.

"Jumping around" in a storyline, sure, coherently. I mean, why, then are we not sitting around discussing Pink Floyd's "The Wall" or Clockwork Orange?

There ain't nothing like the Tea House garden sword scene or Elle Driver introducing the black mamba to Bud or the heroine escaping from a buried coffin.

But I admit it is not for everybody. You might need a couple of screws loose to enjoy it.

Fred Weiss

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

I'm not sure about this. Both Bill's and Beatrix's relationship with B.B. was a very sweet part of the film. Each shielded her from the harshness of their lives, and whenever they were together it was a sweet bright shiny world. On the other hand, they did have the shooting game when Beatrix first met B.B. (what drama that was!) though it was so soft and lighthearted that I would be hesitant to think that Beatrix would ever let any part of her previous life (she was redeemed, afterall) affect B.B. in the coming years. So it is hard for me to imagine B.B. as a lethal weapon.

I agree that this part doesn't follow smoothely from what we know of Beatrix and Bill--especially Beatrix. For Beatrix to train her, something major and new would have to happen. But BB was not shielded entirely from the harshness of their lives (and there's no telling what Bill taught her that wasn't shown). If I recall right, BB loved watching the old kung-fu movies. A child growing up on these, with a mother and father proficient in the arts, would be curious at the very least. I think something big happens--and in the next movie there will be a show-down not between Beatrix and Elle, but between the two daughters. Well, that's what I would like to happen at least. :)

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In Kill Bill. If it totally made sense, you might be inclined to take it seriously, which you are not supposed to do. Think Monty Python, but only up to a point because it's not quite so obviously tongue-in-cheek.

I disagree. Vehemently. I took it all quite seriously. The movie is highly stylized, including exaggerated capacity for human actions, but it is not the whimsical exaggeration characteristic of tongue-in-cheek. The film is not capricious; it is fully consciously determined.

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I disagree. Vehemently. I took it all quite seriously. The movie is highly stylized, including exaggerated capacity for human actions, but it is not the whimsical exaggeration characteristic of tongue-in-cheek. The film is not capricious; it is fully consciously determined.

I agree, Stephen. It is not a spoof or parody, but an action movie in its own right. The humor in the movie is a secondary concern, a dash of spice to bring out the flavor of the main course.

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I'd draw an important distinction between "highly stylized" and "whimsical exaggeration". Atlas Shrugged for example is highly stylized. But everything that happens in the novel is *possible*, although a number of the story elements do require a stretch of imagination.

In contrast, in Kill Bill there are a whole list of impossibilities, not to mention a whole host of other things which are highly unlikely to say the least. That's what gives it that "cartoonish" or "comic book" quality which Tarantino acknowledges explicitly, if obliquely, in Bill's speech on the subject. I'm prepared to give Tarantino a lot of credit for pulling it off, to draw you in, without it all seeming to be utterly ridiculous - as, say, for one example, in "Charley's Angels:Full Throttle". But it is nonetheless clearly whimsical exaggeration.

Where I think Tarantino differs from the usual "tongue-in-cheek" movies is that he is clearly not underneath sneering at the romantic genre or trying to convey a superior attitude toward it. Well, there's a touch of that - maybe even more than we who like the film will admit - but for the most part I think he wants you to take it seriously and he wants you to regard Beatrix with genuine sympathy and admiration. However he couldn't possibly expect you to take any of it literally. If he did, then he'd be even crazier than I already think he is.

Fred Weiss

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Btw, Stephen, you might want to consider moving some of these Bill posts over to the Bill thread. I assume they are distracting to the people who want to discuss Shawshank.

Fred weiss

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

But BB was not shielded entirely from the harshness of their lives (and there's no telling what Bill taught her that wasn't shown). If I recall right, BB loved watching the old kung-fu movies.

Plus, BB is already a "killer" - of goldfish, which Bill makes much of by way of his little speech on the subject.

Has Tarantino said that there will be a Bill3?

Fred Weiss

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On the other hand, there is Beatrix's clear intent to shield BB from this life - hence the whole plot-starting element of her trying to escape from Bill.

That said, there is "the fact" that Beatrix is a "natural-born killer", which she admits she never really believed she could escape from.

Fred Weiss

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Oh, I forgot to add a question that came to mind when I was recalling Bill's questioning Beatrix and bringing up the subject of the futility of her attempt to escape him.

What is going on in that flashback schoolroom bit when the teacher calls out Beatrix's name?

Fred Weiss

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I'd draw an important distinction between "highly stylized" and "whimsical exaggeration". Atlas Shrugged for example is highly stylized. But everything that happens in the novel is *possible*, although a number of the story elements do require a stretch of imagination.

The defining characteristic of "whimsical exaggeration" is not whether something is possible in reality. Whimsical exaggeration refers to an out of the normal but irrational or capricious act, one which there is no logical motivation. None of that, in my opinion, applies to the film. It is one of the most thought-out and consciously determined films I have seen.

In contrast, in Kill Bill there are a whole list of impossibilities, not to mention a whole host of other things which are highly unlikely to say the least.

So what? Do you mean to imply that if a film depicts some things that are not possible in reality, that it is not to be taken seriously?

That's what gives it that "cartoonish" or "comic book" quality which Tarantino acknowledges explicitly, if obliquely, in Bill's speech on the subject.

Calling it "cartoonish" is just another way of you saying what you said before, that you do not take it seriously. But other than saying that some things that occur in the film are not possible in reality, you still have not explained why the film should not be taken seriously.

... but for the most part I think he wants you to take it seriously and he wants you to regard Beatrix with genuine sympathy and admiration. However he couldn't possibly expect you to take any of it literally. If he did, then he'd be even crazier than I already think he is.

Then sign me up for the loony bin, because I took it quite seriously.

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Btw, Stephen, you might want to consider moving some of these Bill posts over to the Bill thread. I assume they are distracting to the people who want to discuss Shawshank.

Fred weiss

That's a good idea. Thanks. I'll do that right now.

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Oh, I forgot to add a question that came to mind when I was recalling Bill's questioning Beatrix and bringing up the subject of the futility of her attempt to escape him.

What is going on in that flashback schoolroom bit when the teacher calls out Beatrix's name?

Fred Weiss

Wow, good question. That's one of the only parts that "didn't seem right" in the movie. I forget the name of the old Woody Allen movie, but there's a classroom scene in it which is remarkably similar. Then again, it may be something new on Tarantino's part--a way, perhaps, to show that it is a flashback (i.e., an adult person placing themself back into a remembered past) using a different means than what Hollywood typically employs for this purpose in its movies.

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Btw, Stephen, you might want to consider moving some of these Bill posts over to the Bill thread. I assume they are distracting to the people who want to discuss Shawshank.

That's a good idea. Thanks. I'll do that right now.

Wow. It worked. The previous nine posts or so came from another thread.

Maybe I can get a job as a professional moderator. :)

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What is going on in that flashback schoolroom bit when the teacher calls out Beatrix's name?

I would have to watch it again, but I recall her name was bleeped out more than once previously.

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Plus, BB is already a "killer" - of goldfish, which Bill makes much of by way of his little speech on the subject.

Yes, she is. This shows, I think, that she is "the daughter of her parents"--or that she too is a killer (for good or bad is left unanswered). But thanks for bringing this scene up, it's important to emphasize if she were ever made into a grown-up person who could look at death impersonally.

On the other hand, there is Beatrix's clear intent to shield BB from this life - hence the whole plot-starting element of her trying to escape from Bill.

Very true. Something has to happen. But what? Will it just be getting fed up with BB's questions/pleas or will BB have an early attempt on her life taken by Elle before she finds Copperhead's daughter--thus leading Beatrix to teach her all that she knows if only to keep this last value in her life safe from harm? A number of possibilities arise, which could fit in with Beatrix's desire to save her from a life of violence and yet teach her how to defend herself as well. Beatrix may think it is best for her daughter to become a lethal weapon--though not a weapon to be used in the capacity of an assassin, only as the daughter she loves defending herself.

That said, there is "the fact" that Beatrix is a "natural-born killer", which she admits she never really believed she could escape from.

Yep. The mythology of the movie almost makes it mandatory that BB will grow up to live the life of her parents (though she has the choice of using violence for good or bad). Her name was not chosen lightly after all--I'm sure a lot of work went into it.

(Btw: I wouldn't want Tarantino as a roommate or anything, but I'd love to be there when he had all of these lightbulb moments--I can just see him coming up with her name right now and can't help but smiling.)

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I would have to watch it again, but I recall her name was bleeped out more than once previously.

This is correct and I remember each time well, because I kept thinking of Lord Voldemort. :) (Whether both names are unmentioned for the same reasons I don't know--having not thought of it much before.)

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Stephen said, "I would have to watch it again, but I recall her name was bleeped out more than once previously." <I don't know how to do quote in quotes>

This is correct and I remember each time well, because I kept thinking of Lord Voldemort.  :)  (Whether both names are unmentioned for the same reasons I don't know--having not thought of it much before.)

I have no idea what you guys are talking about. What does this have to do with the classroom flashback?

Fred Weiss

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The defining characteristic of "whimsical exaggeration" is not whether something is possible in reality. Whimsical exaggeration refers to an out of the normal but irrational or capricious act, one which there is no logical motivation. None of that, in my opinion, applies to the film. It is one of the most thought-out and consciously determined films I have seen.

Thought out and consciously determined is not in conflict with whimsical exaggeration.

Do you mean to imply that if a film depicts some things that are not possible in reality, that it is not to be taken seriously?

Not necessarily of course. Otherwise you couldn't take fairytales or mythology seriously.

But why the conscious and obvious humor which underlies much of Bill? Tarantino clearly intends for you to laugh at much of it.

When Beatrix marches to the diner covered from head to toe in dirt and asks for a glass of water, you didn't laugh? What is Tarantino trying to convey when, after the heroic effort involved in escaping from the coffin, he adds that scene clearly designed to make you laugh? There are numerous other examples.

Fred Weiss

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I have no idea what you guys are talking about. What does this have to do with the classroom flashback?

Fred, you mean you want us to respond to what you actually said? Getting picky, are we? :)

Seriously, you will have to be more specific about what in the scene you are referring to. Also, I still have not replenished the copy I gave away, so I can only go from memory.

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Fred, isn't there a big difference between "laughing at" somebody, and "laughing with" somebody? In that scene you mentioned of Beatrix covered in dirt asking for a drink, does Tarantino want us to laugh at her, or with her (about the incongruity of a very simple and mundane request, with the very difficult and incredible event that preceded it)?

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Warning: There are spoilers about this movie in this post.

Fred, isn't there a big difference between "laughing at" somebody, and "laughing with" somebody? In that scene you mentioned of Beatrix covered in dirt asking for a drink, does Tarantino want us to laugh at her, or with her (about the incongruity of a very simple and mundane request, with the very difficult and incredible event that preceded it)?

I didn't laugh at all. I was still too furious at Bud for the sickening thing he'd done to her and too in awe at what she'd done to escape. I thought the water bit emphasized her intense determination while hinting at an underlying indomitable and joyous sense of life.* As an audience member safely "out of the action," I might have smiled grimly (I don't recall), but if I had been in the movie taking her order I'd have recognized that something very serious had just happened.

*Can't you just feel a boundless love of living in Beatrix? It lights every frame she's in.

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