Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Yet another in my orgy of movie postings, I saw Kill Bill 2 last night. Very good. A somewhat different feel from Vol. 1: less campy, less bloody (though still, pretty damn bloody), more intense. Excellent cinematography. QT is the ultimate cult-film aficionado who was granted three wishes by a genie, and he has made the most of those wishes. He even appears to be using different kids of film stock to evoke different moods (or digital post-processing to create the same effects): black and white segments, which are memorable for the brilliantly lit tight shots of Uma Thurman and David Carradine showing the geological surface of his face and the subtler imperfections on hers; muddy-colored segments located in Barstow CA, that made me wonder whether he had unearthed some 1970s-era film stock, and super-grainy blown-out footage from Pai Mei’s temple, evoking cheap Hong Kong action flicks.

Some movies leave you with the sense that some establishing scenes, which would have helped make sense of the plot, were left on the cutting-room floor. Not with QT. This movie is all about how we got to where we are. So before The Bride can punch her way out of a coffin, we break to a flashback, a story that would stand on its own, to explain how she came to be able to do this. And this is tightly linked to another flashback story that answers another niggling question.

It was interesting to be made aware, with those pitiless close shots, of the tiny wrinkles now appearing on Uma Thurman’s face. Even teenage celebrities are getting obligatory plastic surgery these days, and some women a generation older than Thurman can no longer frown from all the botox paralyzing their faces. And it was interesting to consider that this increasingly inhuman standard of beauty must be influencing the way movies are made: a lot of actresses probably would refuse to put their features under the audience’s loupe, or would insist that the laugh lines be photoshopped away. Some actresses probably couldn’t be cast for a role like this at all, because they are physically incapable of the facial gestures required. It seems ridiculous to say that Thurman deserves respect for putting herself on display in this way, but the way things are headed, perhaps she does.