best films: #35: KILL BILL, VOL. 1 (2003)
In an almost operatic fashion, Quentin Tarantino has mastered the art of splatter to a pristine effect – and no other movie quite displays his unusual penchant for this aesthetic like Kill Bill, Vol. 1. From the Luis Bacalov sampling for a score (brilliant set-up as a modern, urban Western of sorts) to the quick-cutting editing and cinematography (where were the Oscar nods for Robert Richardson and Sally Menke?) to the fantastic action-movie acting from the Bride herself, Miss Uma Thurman (she keeps on that borderline between cheese and just plain kick-ass so expertly), it’s an adrenaline-packed rush of gore, beauty, humor, and captivating story-telling. Commendation is owed to Lucy Liu, whose performance as O-Ren, particularly in that unforgettable boardroom scene, is on par with that of Samuel L. Jackson’s Ezekiel 25:17 scene from Pulp Fiction. Now if only she could do more quality work like this (and her fantastic work on Ally McBeal) instead of lame-brained spy thrillers. One thing I particularly enjoy about most all of Tarantino’s films (he happens to be one of my favorite directors) is his ability to construct a ridiculously memorable scene. Though it was merely the opening of the film, one of the best scenes in the movie has to be the opening fight between Thurman and assassin-turned-suburbanite Vivica A. Fox. From the overhead shots to the calm-before-the-storm banter to the cereal spilling all over the floor, it was a tense bit of action with a over-the-top, yet pitch-perfect, build-up. The best part of this movie seems to be Tarantino’s willingness to embrace the often corn-ball nature of many Kung Fu movies – Thurman isn’t trying to be subtle in any way, and this is far from the composed thespians most lauded performers are used to being. It’s pure dark comedy – with a few severed limbs thrown in for good measure.