Tarantino is one of the great contemporary directors, I’m quite sure no one would deny that. He’s brought to cinema his own unique style of movie-making, one that many others have tried to emulate.
However, that “style” was just his early attempt at cinema. Sure, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are good movies, some would say great, but they were just exercises on the way to maturity for Quentin, who might have just peaked a bit earlier than I would’ve expected. I might be wrong and Inglorious Bastards might top all of his previous work, but from where I’m standing, Kill Bill, both volumes put together are masterful film-making, one that he has failed to equal (however fun Kurt Russell killing people with a muscle car may be) with Death Proof.
As it stands, his sword-flinging reference filled action movie is a perfect rendition of the turn of the century. And I don’t mean it in a historical way. His rare blend of western and martials film has it all.
First of all it’s an homage, be it in subject (C’era Una Volta Il West), style (Yojimbo), music (The Green Hornet) or in shots taken out exactly from the movies referenced (Marnie). And Tarantino knows all his film-making technique is just something he learned from watching movies, and he doesn’t hide that, he acknowledges all those that came before him, and, probably, made his childhood and teen years fun.
Then, the movie is also one big collection of music videos. The music itself could be considered a character in its own right. When The Bride meets Oren Ishii and the following sword fight ensues, I somehow felt I was watching two dancers in a music video. Later on ballet came to mind, but let’s not let our sensitive side get the best of us. There are long scenes where no words are uttered and the music is let loose to fill out heads and hearts. The result? A unique atmosphere.
Last but not least, Kill Bill is a comic book movie most of all. Even before comic book movies got their jolt from all our favourite spandex wearing superheroes. Only this one is not out of any books, but from Q.T.’s head, with a little help from our favourite blonde hellbent on revenge. And you cannot deny the movie this characteristic. Every shot seems right out of a comic panel, every line spoken right out of a dialog bubble. Even Tarantino himself acknowledges this while exploring Oren Ishii’s origins. Where else but in a comic book could you find such characters, at once preposterous and larger than life?
Which brings us back to where we started. Is Kill Bill an homage only to those who have come before? Or is it an homage to the era itself, an era obsessed with music videos, comic book characters and style over substance(something that Kill Bill possesses in abundance, yet manages to seem meaningful) cinema?