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Friday, October 26, 2012

Cool Ass Cinema Presents: A Screenplay Not By Quentin Tarantino Part 4


"Websites have already enumerated his inspirations--how a sunset came from this, and a sword from that. He isn't copying, but transcending."--Oooohhh, is that what he's doing? Roger Ebert salivating over KILL BILL 2.

As usual, QT would often make a big deal about his influences and there placement in his movies. Sometimes he'd come forward with them, other times he'd gloss over them, or not mention them at all. Sometimes, he'd swap out one influence for another without rhyme or reason depending on who was interviewing him. This pattern of mix-and-match-the-movie has gotten so intrusively irritating, you could literally substitute ANY film for whatever scene T Bone is prattling on about. Sometimes I wonder if QT just throws a movie out there in interviews because he knows his followers will likely not know any better.

Take for instance the driver of the Pussy Wagon who says the line, "My name's Buck and I like to fuck." That line, with slight variation, is spoken by Robert Englund in Tobe Hooper's EATEN ALIVE (1976) and I don't recall the Q Man ever mentioning it anywhere. It's inconsequential, really, and about as necessary as the whole Pussy Wagon bit. Who the hell would own a motorized banana with the words 'Pussy Wagon' garishly emblazoned on the back, anyways?! 

"The Pussy Wagon is my car, by the way..."--QT in an interview with about the use of his car, The Pussy Wagon. 

This is yet another instance of random bullshit thrown at the screen because the Q Man found it to be Kool. His increased suffering of Hackism and self-parody is disregarded by both his fanbase and the delusional critics who think of him as the Second Cumming of Cinema. Had any of these bizarre interludes, or script additions been utilized by any other director, they'd be chastised as ham-fisted, hap-hazard and lacking any directorial skills on even the most rudimentary level. He just writes such Kool fucking dialog, man! And you'll find much of this sort of dialog structure in the 70s films of Jack Hill and Arthur Marks only those movies have some consistency about them.


"Pai Mei, whose hair and beard are long and white and flowing, like a character from the pages of a comic book, is another example of Tarantino's method, which is to create lovingly structured episodes that play on their own while contributing to the legend. Like a distillation of all wise, ancient and deadly martial arts masters in countless earlier movies, Pai Mei waits patiently for eons on his hilltop until he is needed for a movie."--Roger Ebert again getting all a tingle over QT, but apparently unaware that Pai Mei, or Bak Mei is an historical figure from Chinese history.


The bit from KILL BULLSHIT VOLUME 2 with Uma kicking Pai Mei in the nuts and her foot getting stuck while he laughs at her was from the Shaw Brothers movie EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN (1977). And I don't recall QT ever mentioning it. Speaking of feet being glued to groins, when I sat in the theater trying to maintain focus on the terminally boring KILL BULLSHIT VOLUME 2, the audience laughed and clapped at this scene; totally buying into it. Now if this had been the HK movie this had been lifted from, this mainstream audience wouldn't have accepted it at all. Why not? Because it wouldn't be QT KOOL, that's why. And that film is filled with an all Asian cast, and as we all know, an entirely all Asian cast is irrefutably un-KOOL.

Speaking of Pai Mei, how in the hell is there a character straight out of Chinese history walking around in the 20th century adorned in period clothing? Keep in mind famed film critic Roger Ebert credits T Bone as if he created the fucking character!!! In related news, thankfully someone had enough sense to eliminate that ridiculous scene with Michael Jai White from KILL BILL 2 where the director assumes he's paying tribute to the kung fu genre with the faux accents and zoom ins and outs. At least I think that's what he's doing. The scene is played for laughs and isn't cleared to land on the AIRPLANE! (1980) comedy runway, nor is it even lean Mel Brooks funny. It's just blindingly stupid. If that wasn't guilty of disrupting the flow of a movie, I don't know what is.

The scene in question involves Beatrix and Bill strolling down a street that looks vaguely familiar to the sort you'd see in a Shaw Brothers movie. They're approached by Michael Jai White and a bunch of Chinese thugs. Bill engages the men in a half-assed fight scene that utilizes gimmicks to reach its conclusion. This is the only time you see Bill demonstrating his skill; well, you have to look on the extras on the DVD, because this condescending, insulting scene was (thankfully) trimmed from the flick.


Which brings me to Sonny Chiba. As mentioned in the previous piece, T Bone frequently champions Chiba; the man even visited the set of TRUE ROMANCE (1993). So when QT invites him to partake in his two volume epic, he gives this iconic man so little to do, it begs the question of why in the hell he put him in the movie in the first place. He essentially makes him a restauranteur paying that ol' homage magic to Chiba's hit 1980s SHADOW WARRIORS series. In it, he and his heroic Iga ninjas, when not hiding under the guise of restaurant/bathhouse workers, waged a secret war with a corrupt, dictatorial government. For KILL BILL, QT even gives Chiba the name of Hattori Hanzo, the name of the character from the series; all but season two, which saw Chiba play a character named Tsuge Shinpachi despite Tarantino vociferously declaring Chiba played a different Hanzo every time a new season appeared.

When the big battle came at the end, I honestly expected Chiba to rush in decked out in his classic KAGE NO GUNDAN outfit to give Uma a little assist. But when this never happened, I was monumentally gutted and pissed off all at the same time. Chiba was thoroughly wasted here. Also, T Bone has his Hattori Hanzo/samurai history mixed up. This playing around with the facts would be fine on film, but Tarantino yapped and yapped in interviews about the history of Hattori Hanzo as if Ric Meyers was just out of camera range giving him pointers.

"I don't really have time to tell the viewers all the mythology behind the movie, but I do what I can. Take for instance the character of Budd. He has Herculean strength. I'm not sure how much that comes across, but that was my intention to show that."--It didn't come across at all. In fact, all I got from Budd is that he drinks a lot, doesn't like to work and lives in a dirty, desert-laden camper.


I recall there were quite a few wild stories and occurrences floating around both during and after this films completion. One was that he fired Yuen Woo Ping at some point and Gordon Liu finished the choreography. Not sure of the validity of that one, but it wouldn't surprise me if it weren't true.

He asked Toho for a model set from one of their Godzilla movies and apparently offended them resulting in their response of "We do this all with computers now." Curiously, the Japanese do still build miniature sets. I assume they said this because they know foreigners make fun of their films for the alleged fake-isms of the hand crafted cities and vehicles, regardless of how good the effects are. Presumably, they didn't want that notion glorified in QT's double dose of nostalgia. The Japanese are supposed to love this guy, I thought. When Toho refused to cooperate, he simply had the crew just build one.

Speaking of the Japanese, another story was his drunken groping of a noticeably uncomfortable Meiko Kaji during a promotional jaunt for the picture; Kaji's involvement being that her song from her FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION series was used in KILL BILL. What boggles the mind is that the inclusion of a JAPANESE LANGUAGE SONG was hip because he did it. Had anybody else done this, they would have gotten all sorts of questionable looks, or laughed out of the room. He also claimed he was going to make Kaji this big star. Apparently her 40+ year career in Japan doesn't count. But that's what QT does is make stars. I believe there was a mention from him that he was also going to make Chiba acolyte Etsuko Shihomi a huge star as well; even though she had experienced over a decades worth of success during the 70s and the 80s. The groping of Kaji was really out of line and it seems the man can appear publicly inebriated and nobody seems to give a damn. So long as he writes more Kool dialog, man. It's fuckin' groovy. Tarantino has his critics and audience so indoctrinated, he could shoot a silent film and he'd still get raves about how brilliantly Kool the dialog was.


"You want dialogue? I give you dialogue in Volume 2!"--QT in an interview talking about giving fans what they want--hours and hours of yappin' and more yappin'. 

Having difficulty at the time figuring out what to make of KILL BILL, it all pretty much became clear once the second half of this Double Bill (haha!) hit theaters six months later. Talk about a tonal shift. The first film was actually closer to what the Giver of Gab was attempting to do with his half of G****HOUSE (2007), which ended up resembling KILL BILL 2 (2004) with its numerous scenes of talking...and talking...and more talking. These talking stretches were punctuated by random musical cues, many of which refuse to coincide with what's transpiring onscreen. In relation to QT's odd musical fetish, one lady sitting a couple rows down from me during the first movie loudly negated the use of Nancy Sinatra's 1966 cover of 'Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) with, "This music is whack!"

The one major action scene in the second BILL, a duel between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah, is the best portion of this thing and the use of Morricone's pounding cue from NAVAJO JOE (1966) fits the action, thankfully. A shame there's little else here of consequence. The Big Battle with Bill is a huge letdown. Of course, before their ten seconds of crossing swords prior to Uma delivering the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique (whew!), they have a nice, extensive chat together in what is closer to MY DINNER WITH ANDRE than any 70s style revenge picture. Retribution is never having to say you're sorry. It's saying, "After all the shit you put me through, including that bullet in my fucking head, we have A LOT of catching up to do!"

"...the action is pretty much non-stop..."--an excerpt from a critics review of KILL BILL 2."--Apparently he got his BILL's mixed up, because the only thing non-stop in this movie is the incessant yapping.

So after the Bride and her daughter enjoy a private viewing of SHOGUN ASSASSIN (1980), her and El Bill converse for about thirty minutes about comic book characters and matters of the heart and shit. Swords (finally) get drawn and Bill gets finger poked and his heart broken accompanied by a stock library musical cue heard in numerous Shaw Brothers kung fu movies. After approximately two hours of mindless action, animated interludes and self-indulgent, random mish-mashing of genre styles in part... excuse me, I meant volume 1, the latter half of this Double BILL is mostly a ponderous gabfest.

Not long after, Tarantino has threatened to unleash a KILL BILL 3 onto the public ten years after part two--which would mean 2014. Since both Carradine and Carradine's character are dead, a different title is in order. Considering QT changes his mind as much as a bi-polar person changes their mood, this one may not happen. And if it does, what sort of dialog heavy, tonally un-even, genre-bending, self-centered yakety yakker will it be? Time will only tell. Meanwhile, the T-meister moved on to the biggest bonafide cluster-fucker of his career thus far.



S. said...

KILL BILL were both superior movies on their own. Your endless tirade amounts to kicking a dead horse. Though as a Tarantino fan, I enjoy you pointing out the many references I've missed, as well as your impressive knowledge. Just stop whining, please.

venoms5 said...

The dead horse is to be kicked two and a half more times to coincide with the upcoming DJANGO UNCHAINED; which looks to be more of the same nonsense he's embraced post JACKIE BROWN.

I don't see how being critical correlates to whining about a filmmakers work that--despite mine and many others opinions to the negative--has become an important part of the American cinema lexicon.

I used to love the man's work and still like certain things about them, but overall, I feel indifference towards his films now.

I do appreciate your honesty, S, but possibly you may wish to avoid the remaining installments, which are already done, by the way.

Twang Zombie said...

You said it yourself - most QT fans will never sit through any movie he references/plagiarizes, because these movies look awkward nowadays. In a sort, QT translates these movies for the modern audience and you should not expect to find much for you in them.

He makes his stuff and people like it. In fact, even the directors he references/plagiarizes like him, at least Jack Hill and Enzo Castellari said so.

The best part is that few of his fans care to dig deeper and discover the real stuff.

venoms5 said...

That's an interesting point, Twang. QT's movies look awkward to me. His dialog is good, but then so are the same sort of conversations on any number of SEINFELD episodes. I do think he's a good writer. That's undeniable no matter how you look at it.

I wrote this whole thing some time back and each time I revisit his films to see if my opinion of them has changed and if so, I change the piece accordingly. My opinion of the two KILL BILL films didn't change much. GRINDHOUSE is his absolute worst as far as I am concerned, and in the next installment I do give him credit for certain things. I do plan to see the DJANGO movie of his, but am going in with seriously low expectations, so hopefully I will be surprised by it.

I think the reason so many of the elder directors like him so much is because he remembers them and their movies when so many do not, or could care less. This is a point I touch on in the next chapter and also in the article/review for his "war" movie.

rrj said...

Thanks for a nice read. I am also seriously fed up with the worship and praise this guy recieves. What really got me fed up was Inglourious Basterds, which I ended up watching twice just to make sure that it was the same movie that my friends were praising to the sky.
However, if it was'nt for Kill Bill I would'nt have gotten curious about the old samurai and kung fu flicks. Of course, I got so fucking angry when I realized how much this guy steals, excuse me, "homages".

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