Kill Bill 2 - directed by Quentin Tarantino - 2004 - USA
Uma Thurman - David Carradine
The cosmos is the source not only of all energy but also of course of the ultimate joke, if there’s anyone who can stick around long enough to laugh.
At the point where the world’s human society needs a certain relative sobriety as it knocks on the door of oblivion, the cosmos sends Dubya to jolly along the eschatological machinery. On an average day, Dubya with his pinched face expressions depicting endless varieties of suburban bewilderment, hams through the force fed words cooked up by the back stage writing team. As performance its par for the Pres part in an Austin Powers film romp about the White House, alternatively Bush would not have been out of place in Dr.Strangelove, in fact it sometimes looks like he studied the Peter Sellars performance in the Pres role and so perfected the craft of welding technology to stupidity.
And Tarantino? After watching KB 2, I see him as part of the same cosmic joke as George W. It’s not really a question of whether it’s good or bad president or film (though I thought it was a boring ponderously scripted mono-paced film) but, of how comfortable you feel with sound of your own laughter. In terms of plastic art KB 2 is true comic book homage to the culture that spawned the Dubya presidency. (Carradine towards the end of KB 2 gives one of his tedious talks, this one about Superman’s nature, to Beatrice which seems to almost send her asleep despite the fact she is being well paid to stay awake) Dubya culture has at its centre the core beliefs that: you kill people you don’t like or who don’t show respect and after you’ve killed them it’s like they never existed; the sanctity of the family; the real belief that we don’t actually have bodies - because the body is a source of limitation embarrassment discomfort and dysfunction so it is better replaced by systems of circuitry, centrally programmed and held together by a tightly sutured integuments.
When the body is functioning correctly as a series of circuits it is as if it were without organs. The final element of the Dubya/ Tarantino belief system is that: time is a sort of the black hole in the political subsystem without any real inconvenient reference flow like past present and future. Time is something that is simply manipulated to foster credulity. One outcome of this approach to time is that as a consequence consequentiality takes a particular direction like light in a dark star. Other people’s actions against you will have consequences for them, but your actions against others have no consequences for you.
The Dubya and Tarentino belief system is as effective a shield as that possessed by any of the American super heroes in that it protects the user experiencing any effect whatsoever from the results of their own behaviour. At the more superficial level the belief system insulates the user from the anxiety of imagining that any enemy - to whom they are alerted - might be able to better them. But the significance of the belief system is really at the psychic level so that the experiences such as of killing people, stomping on people’s eyeballs, being threatened with death, have absolutely no effect on one’s capacity to be a loving caring mommy, which is the most important thing you can be. The reason for this is that body and brain are separate wiring systems, and within the brain the emotional and rational killing systems comprise different circuits and there is no interface or interfeed.
Occasionally there might be some bleed through as in KB 2 when Beatrice comes back home to Bill and BB. However competently wired up individuals such as Beatrice can cope with this sort of minor stress by fixing gaze upon the darling faces of children.
Tarantino’s response to the current ideological need of the American political system is to deliver a mythological tale where the heroine is not a loner in the absolute sense of the term. In the older myths the one (almost always a he) who was called upon to defend the homeland was an isolated psychic entity.
One who was apart from others and society through the experience of death and killing. Even the good killer was something of a sociopath, made dirty by the experience of killing. Killers were of few words. The world of women and family, children was not the world of the hero who worked with death.
But this sort mythic image seems increasingly out of kilter with the evolving needs of American imperium: an imperium in which both men and women are front line pawns. A different sort of mythic wiring system needed to be designed so that the offered prospects of service to America, whatever its form, could offer the recruits a cognitive ideology that permitted them to enjoy both the killing and their families, without blinking. Both worlds were OK, and in no wise essentially contradictory because it is a world without consequences for the right actors. Also the children are in no wise effected as long as things look right. So mummy can kill daddy, but as long as mommy’s well groomed and her hair’s nice the daughter doesn’t miss daddy. General grooming, use of the right products and a finely tuned suburban fashion antennae are all part of the ideological kit, all part of the wiring.
That’s about it. Tarentino is now busy constructing the myths required by the American empire to bind the populace into the new wired up belief system that you can have everything at no real personal cost. Tarentino might try to contend that KB 2 is simply a tongue in cheek strip of American Gothic, but the cosmic delivery system often works most effectively in joke mode, particularly when large numbers of people don’t get the joke: Bush for President! Anyone?
I am sure that Tarantino et al had fun (another important ideological concept of the Empire) whilst making KB 2 but I think that as film maker he seems to have lost the flair to do it. The use of filmic patina the black and white sequences only reinforces obvious function of these sequences to effect a retro ‘40s noir heroic reading. His camera is also big into texture - skin plaster, wall, wood but my feeling is that this prominence of texture is no more than a device to give a real feel to the unreal. The film plods through predictable locations stocked with predictable characters such as the psychopathic crazy loner, the old kung fu master with big stick to beat students. All the clichés are here - Bill himself as a latter day Charlie of angel fame -but both the shooting and the script are laborious overwrought and overdeliberate as they are in poorest examples of the Gothic revenge genre.
The lines handed out to Carradine in particular are the worst, mainly because he has a lot of them and his scripting reminded me of the loud mouthed self important flatulent producers that you meet at media parties: their only interest is themselves. All the dialogue, Thurman’s VO included, had the same archeness of writing and delivery. Somehow I imagined that at one time Tarentino was capable of deft use of words, but that was perhaps when he was telling stories, now he is peddling ideologies.
adrin neatrour 2nd May 2004