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stephen_speicher

Movies: Kill Bill

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It is important to distinguish the artististic ability from the man.

On judging the person and values of Tarantino and his pieces - I agree. But if you cannot put that aside while reviewing his artistic abilities as a director you are being non-objective.

In regards to violence being an end in itself... I think you are 100% right, not only in this movie but in all of Tarantino's films. But again - this is a case of values. That he can pull it off and use violence as esthetically as a ballet is more proof of his artistic mastery.

I'm using "artistic" and not "technical" with full consciousness. Great art can be great even if the values embodied in it are opposite than great, as far as it conveys these values in an original, masterful, effective way.

That being said, I will not judge anyone who hates this movie, as I will not blame anyone for not liking Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. As long as you can identify that it is the values you don't like.

As for me - I suffer much more in a bad film representing good values, than at a good film representing evil values. I can defend myself against the bad morality and sense of life of the later, but not against the incompetence of the first.

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Ten years ago an Objectivist friend remarked to me that he had tried to read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, but he "couldn't get past the altruism." That has always stood in my mind as an example of how not to appraoch art. What an immense sacrifice on his part, that he should miss out on one of the greatest works of man essentially because the author is not an Objectivist.

It's a shame to see this attitude among newer Objectivists is still around. Wouldn't it be better - and make life more enjoyable - to shift focus from looking for the bad to looking for the good?

To be clear, I'm not suggesting being irrational or unjust. Rather, operate on a pro-value rather than anti-evil premise in life. Because if you are looking for reasons to be upset or angry with the world, believe me, you will find plenty. What a waste of energy!

Most people (and most works of art) are a mix of good and bad, not inherently, but because they operate on mixed premises. Where possible, I make the most of the good I come across.

In the end, I think it is a much happier way to go through life.

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Rather, operate on a pro-value rather than anti-evil premise in life.  Because if you are looking for reasons to be upset or angry with the world, believe me, you will find plenty. What a waste of energy!

[...]

In the end, I think it is a much happier way to go through life.

Of course it is!

It is also the only rational way to approach the choices in life.

Life, the only rational standard of value, requires seeking, gaining, and keeping values. Simply avoiding evil doesn't achieve anything.

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Ten years ago an Objectivist friend remarked to me that he had tried to read Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, but he "couldn't get past the altruism."  That has always stood in my mind as an example of how not to appraoch art.  What an immense sacrifice on his part, that he should miss out on one of the greatest works of man essentially because the author is not an Objectivist.

It's a shame to see this attitude among newer Objectivists is still around.  Wouldn't it be better - and make life more enjoyable - to shift focus from looking for the bad to looking for the good?

That is nicely said. I agree, it is a shame. But, the old teach the young, so it is an approach which is being passed on.

Objectivism is not a philosophy which was created for the main purpose of ferreting out every last instance of the bad and the evil. Objectivism is a philosophy whose main purpose reflects the value of life, and it helps us to achieve the joy and delight of true happiness. I wish people would spend more time reveling in the good, rather than dwelling on all that is evil.

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I agree.

I guess I WOULD fault someone who couldn't enjoy good art because of some bad values expressed in it.

But this is an automatic psychological reaction rather than a conscious choice, so it may take some time to solve.

MinorityOfOne wrote a wonderful essay on changing your sense of life, in his Blog - right here.

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While I agree with the spirit of the responses to Roark4Prez2112, and with most of their details, I must strongly protest the implied comparison of Tarantino as an artist to Dostoevsky! ;)

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Oh no! I made that post half-jokingly, not thinking that you actually were trying to compare the artistic abilities of the two!

I'm sorry, but that's so wrong.

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Ash, I think if we went together to see Kill Bill, and then analyze the different techniques that Tarantino as a director invented, improved, and utilized in this movie - you would have to agree that he is one of the best directors of all times.

And if he is, then he, as a director, is on the same artistic calibar as one of the best writers of all times.

Unfortunately this calls for a long and complex discussion that I have not the tools nor the time for. Maybe we can finish this up some other time.

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You're right--I really shouldn't judge Tarantino's artistic ability since I haven't seen Kill Bill yet. But the reason I didn't see it is because his other films have been underwhelming (to put it mildly), in my opinion. But I must admit, I am rather intrigued by the amount of praise given him here.

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Watch it at your own risk. I didn't say it was a pleasant movie to watch.

Watch it only if you don't have a weak stomach, or if you are willing to ignore your weak stomach in order to enjoy Tarantino's cinematographic abilities.

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I watched about half of Kill Bill, and I can't help but weigh in. It is among the worst movies I have ever seen. I rarely decide not to finish movies, but I can't even be bothered with this one. The writing is trite and stilted, which is no shock, but I don't even see the merits of Tarantino's work as a director. Visually, it's not bad, but he even manages to make the fight scenes boring. It's HARD to make a boring swordfight. But Tarantino manages it. It's as though he made the whole movie, and then went back through it, thinking: "What could I do to make this scene suck? It's too good, there's almost some drama here. How can I undercut that?"

Worst line: "Silly rabbit. Trix are for kids."

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I'm sorry you didn't like it. I rather enjoyed it, though.

It wasn't meant to be realistic, you know. But I thought it was rather well executed. I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed some of James Bond's far fetched stunts. :)

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For the record, I love James Bond -- have seen all of them.

Anyway, the fight scenes aren't the worst part of the movie. Actually, the whole movie is the worst part of the movie. It's just that Tarantino could at LEAST have had good fight scenes. Fifty people. Swords. C'mon, it's not THAT hard.

Now Troy, on the other hand... THERE are some good fight scenes. (And a good movie overall, at that.)

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"Kill Bill" is a remarkable piece of cinema, if for no other reason than the fact that it's a fine example of a filmmaker indulging himself (and those who have seen the films from which "Kill Bill" borrows/steals) and his own tastes to the absolute fullest. We get to see what a man who’s been in love with B-movie grindhouse cinema his whole life can do with a budget hundreds of times larger than any B-movie in history. We get to watch him pull out all his favorite toys from his toybox, and put them together into something new— a sort of homage to (and parody of) a specific period in film history.

It could be said (in fact, I've said it) that "Kill Bill" is, in many ways, immune from ‘traditional’ criticism, because basically, it’s not a traditional movie. Dialogue was stilted? So was the dialogue in QT's favorite movies. Bloody gore was over the top and unrealistic? So was the violence in QT's favorites. Etc. It’s pretty clear to me that much of it was done that way on purpose. Many of those who are quick to put the film down on artistic bases X, Y, and Z are likely missing the point, and are holding “Kill Bill” to a set of standards better suited a different kind of movie. The same way that one could say, “this trashy romance novel is nothing compared to War and Peace,” one could also say, “this particular romance novel accomplishes exactly what a romance novel should accomplish and does so with a keen style and was obviously written with a genuine love for the genre.”

In other words, it’s perfectly okay if you don’t like it, but that doesn’t make it objectively bad. Objectively, “Kill Bill” is an absolutely piss-poor World War II documentary, a terrible father-and-son reconciliation story, and a god-awful “coming-of-age during the Great Depression” film. It didn’t even come close to achieving any of the things that would be necessary to any of those types of films. However, it’s a superb 1970’s-style kung-fu/samurai/western/revenge flick. Tarantino’s talent enabled him to observe and identify the characteristics (in short: the essence) of what makes those types of films what they are, and spit it all back out, staying true to the tone of the originals, in the form of “Kill Bill.” It works. It does what it sets out to do.

A sort of sidenote: Another, albeit less important part of my enjoyment of "Kill Bill" comes from being able to identify the bits of other films that are copied, mocked, embellished, and otherwise taken, to make up the whole of the film. Even little, inconsequential details add a certain amount of spice to my overall enjoyment of it. (Example, from the Vernita Green scene in Vol. 1: "This Pasadena homemaker's name is Jeanne Bell..." Jeanne Bell was a Playboy Playmate and actress who played the title character in the 1975 blaxploitation flick, "TNT Jackson.")

I believe I even read somewhere that “Pai Mei” loosely translates to “white eyebrow.” Parody? Homage? Both, I like to think. :)

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I'm sorry you didn't like it. I rather enjoyed it, though.

It wasn't meant to be realistic, you know. But I thought it was rather well executed. I enjoyed it in the same way I enjoyed some of James Bond's far fetched stunts. :D

Based on earlier posts I had the impression that you saw the depth in that movie that went far beyond "stunts." Maybe I got the wrong impression of what you thought, and why, but I loved Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), the heroine, as a woman of extraordinary ability, one who uses that ability to avenge and exact justice. She is single-minded in purpose, unforgiving, completely determined to achieve her goal. Her actions are sheer beauty to watch: her grace, her poise, the control and strength of her form. She is like a fluid dancer moving purposefully across the stage, slaying her enemies, not just by the strength of her form, but also by the strength of her determination and character.

What I saw was much closer to artistic dance than to "stunts."

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Stephen,

First, this quote of me refers solely to the fight with the crazy 88.

I did enjoy the movie thoroughly, and thought it was brilliantly directed throughout. I did enjoy the portrayal of Black Mamba, and the beauty of her movement. It was indeed more like a dance than like a fight.

It was not meant to be realistic, in the sense that no woman can overcome dozens of swordsmen at once without even being hit. In this sense it's like a James Bond movie, where he pulls amazing feats - like jumping from one airplaine to another to save his Queen and Country.

Many parts of the movie require a "suspense of disbelief" to enjoy. I guess this is what I was getting at with the post you quote.

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