Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kill Bill, vols. 1 & 2 (2003-2004)

by Jimmy "California Trouser Snake" Callaway

For a four hour exploration of revenge, Kill Bill doesn't really have a whole hell of a lot of time dedicated to revenge. And that's cool. But like one of its many forebears did for me a couple months back--Master of the Flying Guillotine--Kill Bill doesn't give me a whole lot to work with as far as that goes. It's got a lot of pretty action sequences and a lot of pretty scenery chewing. But that's about it, really.

So. If we can't tell from the title or the opening scene, the Bride is out to kill Bill, her former lover and boss, for trying to kill her and, it is guessed, succeeding in killing her unborn child. The flick starts off just right with a fight scene with Vivica A. Fox, who is woefully underused, not only here, but also anywhere that is not my creepy imagination. As Vernita Green, one of the Bride's former colleagues in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (their office Christmas parties are legendary), Fox exchanges kicks and punches with the Bride before her daughter comes home. The theme of motherhood plays a large part in the flick, so again, good thing to bring it up right away. The Bride doesn't want to kill Green in front of her daughter, but that's about where her mercy ends. Green tries to convince her that she's truly sorry for shooting up the Bride's wedding party and all that. Now, naturally, an apology is not going to cover that sort of thing. But it does seem to me that Green is sincere in this, and it bothers me just a little that it doesn't bother the Bride at all. Of course, she's early into her journey, so it only makes sense that she's not gonna listen to reason here. It just doesn't jibe exactly with her claim that she is being totally rational. That was what I used to tell myself when I saw malice in every set of headlights in my rear-view mirror (but I'm feeling much better now).

It could also be that I'm sore because Vivica Fox gets killed right away and then no more of her fine ass for the rest of the movie, really. I do like how Nikki, Green's daughter, is handily set up for a revenge flick of her own years down the road. So what I'm seeing right away here as far as the revenge theme is that some attention is being paid to it, but not enough to really make me think there's gonna be much more to this flick(s) than fight scenes (hurrah!) and painful dialogue (hurroo.).

Next, I mean first, I mean next on the Bride's revenge list is O-Ren Ishii. There's a huge chunk of anime time in here depicting O-Ren's backstory, much huger than the Bride's even. Revenge comes up a lot here too, what with O-Ren avenging the murders of her parents. The weird thing is that it seems like we should sympathize with her character more than anything after all this. If that's the point, then that's kinda weird 'cause she's a bad guy. But if that's not the point, then it's just a buncha highly stylized prurience. Which is fine, but I dunno. Maybe I'm just expecting too much again. And really, as long as Lucy Liu's freckles are yelling at me, what do I have to complain about?

The bulk of the rest of vol. 1 is devoted to the Bride slaughtering every dude in Tokyo, but not so much direct payback. There is a little sub-plot thrown in with O-Ren's lawyer, Sofie Fatale, which seems more of a name for a killer or at least a really vampy broad. Y'know, like a Spirit villain. Not so much a lawyer. Also, her part in the Bride's wedding day massacre seems a little tacked on, but as we're constantly reminded through the movie, the less seriously you take this shit, the more fun you'll have. Which is true. I just have a thing about being told what to do.

Vol. 2 is more or less dedicated to the rest of the Deadly Viper Over-Accessorized Squad and their impending deaths. It's around this point that something else occurs to me to suck the fun out of the movie: why should I feel sorry for the Bride? Because she was nearly murdered as was her child (who wasn't actually murdered as it turns out. So, sorry about that, legions of dead people)? Fuckin' live by the sword, die by the sword, lady. I suppose this is why we never actually see any of the action the Bride saw as a paid assassin. In kind of a counterpoint to O-Ren's backstory, we might find ourselves not sympathizing with our heroine, and that wouldn't do.

Again, I suppose I have to bear the brunt of the blame for this, being smart and all. It's like in Land of the Dead: the lead zombie is really the hero of the story, so we never see him actually eat anybody. And it's like, fine, you want us to sympathize. But he's a fucking zombie. I guess what I'm getting at as regards Kill Bill is that this oversimplified notion of good guys and bad guys sticks out a bit here more than anywhere else. I'll buy that a squad of assassins all need snake codenames they never seem to use, I'll buy that Michael Parks is a Mexican pimp, I'll even buy that an airline would let Uma Thurman bring her Hanzo sword as carry-on. What I'm not buying is that she's a sympathetic character, and the copious absence of the horrible shit she must have done in the past ("the deadliest woman in the world" is not a title you earn helping the homeless) just points that up all the more for me. And what's more is I don't need the lines of demarcation drawn so clearly. You can have a flawed protagonist, you can have a sympathetic antagonist. You just have to be careful with what you're doing, that's all.


Budd is by far the most interesting character in this flick, if only because he doesn't keep calling everybody "bitch." Near the beginning of vol. 2, we find Buddy working at a titty bar, well below his station. This is a nice P.S. for his character, I think. Vernita got out of the life and attempted a normal suburban existence. O-Ren used her skills and abilities to climb to the top of the Japanese underworld. Budd can't even hold a job as a bouncer at a low-rent strip joint, a joint where even Sid Haig can keep a bartending gig. But like the others, Budd seems more or less fine with things. Budd's got a much more philosophical angle on the whole thing: "That woman deserves her revenge," he tells Bill, "and we deserve to die. But then again, so does she. So I guess we'll just see, won't we?" I double-dare you to find anybody other than Michael Madsen who can make awkward and clunky dialogue like that sound good. But that's besides the point: the real point here is that Budd knows the score. And even though he buries the Bride in the lonely grave of Paula Schultz out of some misplaced notion of loyalty to his asshole brother Bill, he doesn't seem to enjoy it much. No, I take that back: he seems to enjoy it as much as he enjoys Johnny Cash records and getting yelled at by his boss. That is to say, Budd takes everything in stride (which also nicely fits my preconceived notions of what Madsen is really like). Grant you, perhaps he loses his cool when a black mamba eats his face, but I think that's understandable.

Elle Driver, as depicted by Daryl Hannah, is the wildest card in this bunch of wild cards, which makes the fact that she doesn't actually get killed all the weirder. In fact, what seems to drive the Bride more in this case is that Elle killed their mutual master, Pai Mei. Again, I get the nod to kung fu here, but it's just this sort of screwball notion of fealty-until-death that keeps me from being a full-bore kung fu junkie. Like, the Bride doesn't have enough hatred for Elle as part of the crew that killed everybody she loved? We've gotta throw a hard-ass kung fu master into the bargain (one who couldn't tell his fishheads were poisoned until it was too late)? I dunno. Frankly, I really like Daryl Hannah in this movie, and not just because I kinda like having that Twisted Nerve whistle stuck in my head at work. So I should be glad that she'll be around for vol. 3 (if she lives that long)(hell, if I live that long). But not only does it not jibe with the point of the movie for me--all Deadly Vipers must die!--that dumb question mark during the end credits bothers me. Aesthetically, mostly.

And now the main event. Which also brings up problems for me of sympathizing with the characters. First of all, Bill's Superman speech really rings my bell, and not just from a comic-book critic's standpoint. It also really sells his motivation behind trying to kill the Bride and taking their as-yet-unborn child away. Perhaps if we had seen more of the Bride pre-wedding massacre, it would have been an even more apt description of her as a killing machine. But as we saw already, that would take precious emotional involvement away from the heroine. And we just couldn't do without that, right?

But really, what makes the whole movie really difficult to me, and I don't think I'm gonna run into too much argument here, is that David Carradine is just a charming motherfucker. There is not a single time in this movie that I don't wanna hang out with the guy, not a one. I wouldn't get rid of that aspect of his character myself, but shit, it makes it real hard to counterpoint our heroine--she of the golden locks and deep blue eyes--if our bad guy is not equally repulsive. And he's not! Jesus, his favorite song is "When Will I See You Again," for chrissakes. How could you kill that guy?

So that's where I'm at with this movie. The revenge angle is a pretty weak set-up, thereby hewing to the tradition, I would suppose. Of course, there are a million reasons to like this movie in spite of all this, even if it's still one of Tarantino's lesser efforts. Like a lot of exploitation movies, plot is merely a conduit to wonderfully choreographed scenes of violence and gore. And like a lot of exploitation movies, Kill Bill never falls short of this mark. But like a lot of exploitation movies, it leaves me wanting a little more in the plot department.

My fault, entirely.


  1. Okay, first off I should say that this is one of my favorite movies of all time so I freely admit that I am biased. I mean, I cry at this movie, multiple times. Secondly I thought the review was well-written, dude. That being said, this is what I think:

    "That woman deserves her revenge," he tells Bill, "and we deserve to die. But then again, so does she. So I guess we'll just see, won't we?"

    I think you kill your whole point here.

    So, Beatrix was a young woman who fell in love with the wrong man, the charming dashing Bill, became an assassin and did horrible things for him. She finds out she's pregnant and at that moment, realizes, as a lot of women do, that she wanted something better for her daughter, and decides to leave. Now, Bill can't have that, either because he loves her, or because he's a monster, or because of an overinflated ego. That doesn't matter. The point is he does it for selfish reasons. They spend the whole of the beginning of the movie setting up all the things they did to her. Now, for me, I think the attempted murder of yourself and your unborn child followed by the raping of your unconscious form over and over by Buck is more than enough reason, and I believe in humanity's capacity for change because I personally did it, so I truly believe that she wanted to change. That's not the point though, the point is that YOU didn't, and whether you did or not Tarantino wrote the grey area into the Bride's character. So, I think it works either way.

    Secondly, you admitted to not really being a die-hard fan of kung fu movies and you are absolutely right that the things that bother you about it wouldn't bother someone who was. I mean, he didn't really write the movie for you. He wrote it for me, and Chad, and the other die hard fans. (well, and prolly to make some money) Do you know how excited I got when she goes to get her Hanzo sword from Sonny Chiba!? I cried when he goes through the ceremony. And its fun to try and pick out where all the references are from ^_^

    And you are absolutely right about Bill being a badass. I just don't think it takes away anything. At all. He HAS to be a badass. He has to be charming to explain why Beatrix fell in love with him and was willing to do all those horrible things for him. But underneath all his comic-quoting hepness, Bill's no different than the Pimp who tells her he would just cut her face, a point I think was made purposely by Tarantino.

    Also, I believe that she doesn't kill Elle because, as they set up throughout the whole movie, Elle is an honorless dog and not worthy of a warrior's death. And Beatrix knows this and leaves her helpless and blind in Bud's shitty trailer in the middle of the desert wallowing in his filth with the Black Mamba. The only fitting end to her.

    And lastly, as a chick, it was immensely satisfying to see a chick in this role, all the chicks. Because while the East has been writing roles for strong kick-ass chicks, both heoes and villains, for, like, forever, we have scant few of them over here (Linda Hamilton in T2, Sigourney Weaver in Aliens). And while you didn't say anything bad about that, you didn't say anything good either and I think its a strong selling point for this movie and just felt it worth mentioning and to help explain my rabid devotion to this movie.

    Lastly, all that being said, I still enjoyed reading this and if everybody agreed on everything the world would be a really boring place.

    -Maria "What did you say to Pai Mei to make him snatch out your eye?" Eagleton

  2. When I was 33 I had a false-alarm heart attack and went to Kaiser-Permanente (s.p.) on Vermont and Sunset because that seemed like the cheapest hospital in L.A. It kind of was. I was in there for observation for three days and that's exactly how many channels the television had. Two of them were movie channels that showed Kill Bill pts. 1 and 2 over and over and over and over and over again.

    That explains my own bias. I am not a fan of these movies.

  3. Thanks for disliking this one for many of the same reasons I did. And for mentioning Sid Haig.

    I was thoroughly put off during a marathon watching of these two flicks by the lack of an emotional center other than precisely timed sweeping music and assumptions. The filmmakers seemed to demand we attach ourselves to The Bride, while the story and basic morality did little to support that. As someone who eagerly embraces despicable protagonists and alluring antagonists, the emotional tone struck me as dissonant. I would surmise that's intentional - Tarantino wanted to make a statement that, in exploitation action films, motive is entirely personal to the characters and violence is the only pure force - but it still proved rather obnoxiously manipulative for me. That was especially true in the second, where even more appealing characters were iced for even less viable reasons.

  4. Tarantino in a lot of ways is simply just a matter of taste. I for one have loved everything he’s ever done and think he has a fairly good ear for a dialogue, writes amazing action sequences, and has more depth to his films than most people give him credit for.

    Though truthfully, I think we’re all thinking too much about the nuts and bolts of Kill Bill. And I don’t watch movies like this for some sort of indepth character piece. If you are, then you’re missing out on what’s enjoyable about it. I don’t think it’s a movie that’s supposed to be analyzed. It operates on very basic reasons and emotions. Mostly, it’s just one big love song to a whole bunch of other movies and genres and cool ass shit. Kung-Fu flicks, revenge flicks, westerns, Yakuza films, Bruce Lee, Sonny Chiba, Gordon Liu, you dig. It has some of the most amazing fight scenes I’ve seen in an American movie in a long time; well choreographed and clearly shot without any of that shaky-cam-you-can’t-tell-what’s-going-on nonsense.

    But, if we are going to analyze it—

    Vengeance blinds you and gets you nowhere. The Bride kills Vernita Green even though she apologizes. Actually, truly apologizes. The Bride kills Vernita, I think, not so much for her part in the Wedding Massacre, but because she’s managed to claim the life the Bride wanted. When the Bride tells Green’s daughter, I understand if you’re still raw about this and want your own revenge, it’s really her acknowledging how fucked up revenge is. The entire O-Ren scene reinforces this. We see O-Ren get revenge for the murder of her parents and where does that get her? Nowhere but spiraling down into more darkness and bloodshed. Vengeance is a vicious and continual cycle.

    By slaughtering every dude in Tokyo? I assume you mean the showdown at O-Ren’s place? Half the dudes in Tokyo are yakuza members and O-Ren’s bodyguards. It’s implied with Gogo and the scene where the Bride spanks the one kid and sends him home, that O-Ren’s gang is full of people she’s recruited from a young age. And again, vengeance is blind—you’ll mow through whatever gets you in your way, even if it is 200 yakuza members wearing Kato masks.

    Sofie Fatale is a walking plot device. She’s there to give the Bride the location of the other Deadly Viper assassination squad members and to serve as the audience’s vehicle to learn that the Bride’s child is still alive at the end of part one. Yes, her part at the Wedding Massacre is tacked on, but that’s why she doesn’t get killed. She just loses an arm. Via the laws of vengeance, your punishment happens in degrees of culpability (notice she doesn’t kill the pimp who tells her where Bill is).

    The Brides motivation and why you feel sorry for her: she loves Bill (one smooth but evil motherfucker), she got pregnant, wanted out of the life with her child, knew he wouldn’t do it and wouldn’t allow her to, knew if she stayed violence and death would be all she had in front of her and her child would be motherless. Remember the scene where the chick with the shotgun shows up and the Bride talks her into letting her go, that scene happens literally right after the Bride figures out she’s knocked up. She made a snap decision when faced with the future and she walked.

    She even lets her assassin live.

    She tried for a new life. They came to kill her and massacred her entire wedding party. She believes, whether or not you do as an audience member (which isn’t that half the fun), that her child is dead. When she awakens in the hospital after having been comatose for years, she’s faced with the realization that the weaselly little orderly has been pimping her out.

    That’s motivation.

  5. Budd is a cool character. In some ways, he seems to be the one member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad with honor still intact and I think that’s what brought him down, that’s why he lives in a rundown trailer, why he works at a titty bar. I think he believes this is what he deserves, I also think that’s why he isn’t killed by the Bride, but is killed by Elle. (What Johnny Cash song is he listening to when we see him? “Satisfied Mind” whose lyrics are all about how it doesn’t matter what you have, if you thoughts aren’t in order, if your mind isn’t satisfied, then you’re miserable.) The only character he really isn’t upfront with is Elle, who’s obviously a vindictive and crazy bitch. He tells her he pawned his Hanzo sword years ago and will sell her the Bride’s for a million bucks. (Elle, of course, proves that she is an honor-less bitch when Budd opens the case and takes a snakebite or twelve to the face.) But his Hanzo sword is right there still in the trailer when Elle and the Bride kung-fu it out.

    Elle is the Bride’s double. She’s Beatrix Kiddo’s shadow—vindictive without reason, heartless, selfish, and honor-less. She’s what the Bride could have been. Hell, she’s even Bill’s new lover and doesn’t that even make her the de-facto mother of the Bride’s child? The Bride doesn’t learn about Elle killing Pai Mai (“White Eyebrows”—a Kung-fu film stock character) until they’re destroying Budd’s trailer. Up to that point, the two of them are pretty evenly matched. Elle confesses her treachery and the Bride plucks her eye out and just leaves her. The Bride has finally become the master. It’s that moment when the Bride realizes, I’m not you, I’m not Elle Driver, I’m not fucking Paula Schulz, I’m Beatrix Kiddo (the trailer scene is the first time we learn her real name) and Beatrix walked away from this, Beatrix Kiddo is better than you are. Beatrix Kiddo has been reborn (she came out a grave at the start of this combat).

    Like Maria said, Bill has to be smooth. He has to be sympathetic on some level. He’s got to be smooth to have won the Bride in the first place. Besides, the best villains have charisma. He’s also fucked up. He was raised by a pimp. He was the leader of an outfit of cutthroat assassins. He slaughters an entire church full of innocents (the Bride never kills anyone who isn’t guilty of something). And damn, man, he has his child cut from the Bride’s womb and raises her with a bunch of nonsense put in her head. (Remember when the Bride finally arrives, B.B. isn’t surprised; she knows who her mother is). Think about it, Bill obviously fucking loves her. But he kills her. His own psyche is so twisted up he sees that as his only choice (his line about “This is me at my most masochistic) even though he knows it’s gonna fuck him up. It's been eating him for years and years and years. That's why he gets her with the truth serum. He needs answers.

    And his Superman speach. Dude, that's so totally about him. Bill is admitting that underneath all the badassedry, he's just a Clark Kent.

  6. Budd's remark goes to "Hell, man, haven't you done something in your life you deserve to be hanged for?" ("High Wind To Jamaica" I think.)Quenton's style is apocalyptic, referential chaos and he's better when he works with Rodriguez and Reservoir Dogs is an all timer and so what? I come down on the love him side of the love him/hate him/kill him equation. Nuff said.

  7. Wow, lookit all this discussion! Discussion!

    Maria--Y'know, I had totally disregarded the raping of her comatose body as fuel for her revenge, so that's an excellent point, but since it wasn't a direct cause for her quest for vengeance, as in it's not really mentioned again after she kills Buck (right?)(and also I'm curious to hear why you might think she would still be driving the Pussy Wagon around after having been in Japan for months on end). And I think this is what I was getting at over all: there's a lot of assumptions being made, I think, about the audience's capacity for sympathy for the blonde-haired devil here. You're probably right in that you believe more in humanity's capacity for change than I do (though a lotta that cynicism of mine is all bark, when you get right down to it), but if a storyteller puts the right amount of effort into making me believe a character can change, then I can totally buy it. I just don't think that was well established.

    Also, I'd like to make clear that I love kung fu movies, although admittedly probably not as much as you and your betrothed. If it sounded like I was down on the genre, I think I was just getting at that I'm finding (and only since I started looking at these flicks more analytically) the plots to be rather threadbare, despite how much else they have going for them (which I hasten to repeat is quite a bit indeed). Also, I'm coming at it from a personal angle a bit in that I spent much of my angry young man years trying to figure out a way or ways to get back at those whom I perceived had wronged me. But over the last couple of years, I've come to realize that so much of that was wasted energy and just generally stupid on my part (see? Change for Jimmy!). So that part of me now watches these movies and thinks, "Man, if only this protagonist had put this energy into something more positive." And then I punch myself for sounding like a stupid fucking hippie. My point being here, I like it, the kung fu.

    I am afraid, though, that I have to call you on that point of the movie not being written for me. Grant you, those who catch the references are going to enjoy the movie on a level that others won't. But I think it's a bit unfair to argue that those others' interpretation of the movie is less valid. If you take away all the references, direct or indirect, and the movie can't stand on its own, then I think that'd be a problem with the movie, not the viewer.

    Your point about Bill is excellent, indeed, and pretty much has me at a 180 on that particular point in my argument. I think I may have missed this myself because I was focusing so much on her character, but still. My fault. Also, a very excellent point about Elle, one I also hadn't considered, but am now convinced of.

    I didn't bring up the fact that the Bride is a strong female character, the type of which is sorely lacking, as you say. You're right, it is an extremely positive aspect of the movie and should be lauded and celebrated by one and all. I think I neglected this aspect because that's much more of a--how do I want to say this?--it's more of an intertextual sorta thing. Like, I kinda just wanted to stay focused on the revenge angle within the movie itself, and not so much on the attendant effects the movie makes in the world at large. Y'know? Also, I'm a male chauvinist pig, so this sorta thing rarely occurs to me, which I admit with shame. I didn't exclude it purposely, it's more of a sin of omission.

    Goodness gracious, Maria, I can't thank you enough for that metal sparring session. Well done, man.

  8. Alec--Man, that sucks. I've had trauma kill movies for me (though more mental and emotional, not the quite literal trauma you had there). So, bummer.

    Funkster--You're welcome and you're welcome. I should point out that I do like these movies, just not as much as his other output. Also, I was in a bit of a mood watching these, and you know how my menstrual cramps can affect my reading of a text.

    Again, you've taken my point and phrased it much more succinctly and intelligently than I could in three times as many words. Maria, please note what Matt says here, and then pretend I came up with it. Thank you.

  9. Chad--Damn Eagletons are ganging up on me! I'm kidding, of course.

    A matter of taste, yes. As is all art, really. I agree with you on his dialogue, though I think he may have used up most of the really good shit in his first three movies. His action sequences are above reproach, yes, and yes, he gets shafted by smart-asses like me more often than he should (well, maybe).

    As you well know (I should hope), I deeply respect your opinion as a writer and critic, but I bristle nearly uncontrollably at the notion of a movie that is not supposed to be analyzed. Chadders, what do you think we're up to over here?!

    Oh, okay we are going to analyze it. Whew. Again, I agree that it does not lend itself to this sort of analysis in that it's to strike more of an emotional chord. And belive you me, it does, especially upon my first viewing. I practically cartwheeled out of the theater. But as it seems my purpose in life is to be a parade-rainer-onner, then y'know. That's what I do.

    Yes, as I was getting at in my response to your lovely bride's comment, vengance is something I view with a much more skeptical eye these days. And I hadn't really considerd her early motivations as per Vernita, although I think I was hovering there. So thank you for helping me to land correctly. Yeah, the O-Ren backstory reinforces this notion of the cyclical nature of violence, but the end result of the whole violent affair is that the Bride and her cute little daughter are reunited and it's time for Heckle and Jeckle. So in this case the cycle is broken by more violence. Which, as I think I more or less was trying to say, doesn't work for me.

    The "every dude in Tokyo" line was me being tongue-in-cheek a bit. I had no problems with that whole sequence at all really, except maybe I thought the spanking bit was kind of a weak joke.

    Again, I get that Sofie is a walking plot device. But as I've been saying, this doesn't mean you get a free pass from me, just 'cause I get it, y'know? If I can see the strings being pulled, at least make it so I don't care. It worked for you, it doesn't work for me. Fuck it, Dude, let's go bowling.

    I think my overall problem was less her motivation and more with I should feel sorry for her. Her motivation is a lot like the plunger on a pinball machine: it gets the ball rolling, but then just kinda sits there. I gather that that is enough for you, and I also like pinball myself. But why I should feel sorry for her, there's the rub. That scene where she finds out she's pregnant is excellent on many levels. In fact, just about every scene works well. But there is a distinct lack of scenes showing her killing the fuck out of people for no more reason than money (her being in love with Bill comes into play there, yes, but tons of mafia wives love their husbands without ever fitting anybody for cement shoes). So yes, her motivation is sound, but my motivation for empathizing with her is not so much. She's had horrible things happen to her, but I have to assume she's done some pretty horrible shit herself. A flawed protagonist is fine, but you need to give me more of that flaw, not just a bad-ass chick fight in the final minutes of the movie. If Tarantino is going to rely on that emotional connection only, then that's a risk he runs. He tries to hedge his bets by not showing us any of the bad stuff she's done, but like I said, that absence is far too conspicuous for me. And now I feel like I'm babbling.

    Chad, you are a true scholar and gentleman. Thank you again for such a well thought out rebuttal.

  10. Oh shit, Chad's got more to say. Okay, part two then:

    I think we see eye-to-eye as far as Budd goes. It never really struck me that the Bride doesn't kill him, and that's an excellent point, as well.

    But jeez, do you make me look silly with the rest of your comment. Of course, Elle is her shadow! Why the fuck didn't I see that? And here I am thinking I'm so smart. And the whole connection between death and rebirth...oh, Chaddy. My hat is off to you, sir.

    You and Maria are of course right about Bill's charisma. I dunno how to solve this for myself. My point was that I couldn't hate the guy because he's so charming, but now I'm thinking it's more because either I am that way myself or I totally want to be. Either way, that's me admitting to being a bigger scumbag than even I feel comfortable with.

    And serious kudos on Bill as Clark Kent. If anything, that one sentence of yours has totally turned me around. It'll probably be another year or two before I watch these again, but you can be damn sure that just before I do, I'm gonna come back and re-read what the Eagletons have to say and try to watch it through their intelligent and loving eyes. You guys are the bee's knees, for serious.

  11. Billy Bob--Yeah, generally, I love him too. I think what got me stirred up about it this time around was that I was attempting to isolate just one aspect, and perhaps as the Eageltons were getting at, that was my first mistake. His stuff should be taken as a whole, even if not with a grain of salt. But I guess I just felt like stirring shit up. And what with all the great discussion it brought about, I'm sure as fuck glad I did.

  12. I didn't see the Elle thing either, Jimmy. Chad snuck that up on both of us. And I do think its prolly true. I also really think there's a samurai theme throughout too. Like, with Vernita, Beatrix offers her a warrior's death. She obviously respects her, and even trusts her enough not to bolt on her, and that is the ultimate for samurai, right? But Vernita chooses the dishonorable route by trying to shoot her with the gun in the Kaboom cereal box. So, B kills her, and then the thing with the daughter happens. Its like, a samurai, western, kung-fu movie, that happens to center on revenge, at least for me. Also, thanks for being nice in your response to me. But I totally see how it isn't for everybody.

    I always hate to disagree with anyone on anything over the net because I don't like to hurt people's feelings and you can't gauge tone. Anyways, at least we agree on Bill and Elle and Bud and the fact that Chad comes outta nowhere and makes us all feel like ding-dongs. LOL

    Maria "It really was a Hattori Hanzo Katana..." Eagleton

  13. Yes, I often approach internet-deabating with a heavy sense of dread. But we're all a buncah smarty-pantses and we're all friends and we all respect each other. It's very utopian, and just the environment I wanted to create here in my little corner of the blogosphere. Yay, us!

    Also, yeah, very samurai indeed. I can't really be upset that Vernita dies given this, but I still mourn not getting more of that foxy, foxy lady in this movie.

  14. Jimmy, you just happened to pick a movie a kung-fu flick we both like. And I've watched way to much Hong Kong cinema.

    Though, if it had been Ong Bak 2, I would have been doing this solo.

    And thanks for the kudos. I dig your opinion too, man...even if I don't always agree with it. I think what I was trying to get at was I felt like you were trying to hold the two flicks to a level of character motivation I just wasn't looking for and didn't really think needs to be there. I can see what you're saying though about wanting to know what sort of bad shit the Bride did when she was a murderer for hire, but I think I was just sort of accepting it without seeing it. Does that make sense?

    I had forgotten about the whole Vernita Kaboom box thing that Maria points out.

    The other thing I thought about with her fighting Elle, dispelling what she could have been, is noticing how her clothing changes. In the flashback scenes, you know, like when Bill drops her off to go train with Pai Mai, she's wearing these loose sort of easy relaxes clothes. When she bolts and tries to go get married it's all flowy gown, loose hair. When she goes to get her revenge it's jeans and leather, Bruce Lee's Game of Death track suit. When she goes to visit Bill at the end. It's back to the flowing peasant style skirt. It's like there were two separate sides to her. In each one she tried to deny the other. After plucking Elle's eye, she becomes whole. You know, she's the earthy mom, but she can still unlease the dim mak.

    I think the only other argument I could make for Sofie would be that she seems to be the facilitator. The chick who know what's going on and make arrangements, maybe even set everything up for the massacre. But that's really a lot of inference.

  15. Absolutely it makes sense, and you're right, that level of character motivation doesn't need to be there for one to enjoy the movie(s). I certainly did enjoy them, although again, probably not as much as you guys. But, y'know, that doesn't mean we can't put the motherfucker under a microscope and really try to find out what makes it tick, although as you argue, that may kill it. I don't think so, but then, I kinda do? I dunno. It's early. But yes. Discussion!