Sharply dressed crooks with too-cool names spew humorous anecdotes, hip quips and one-liners as sharp as the clink of their Zippo lighters or as nonchalantly as their mesmerizing struts.
Welcome to Tarantinoverse. And during the ’90s this highly-acclaimed one-trick-pony ruled the film world with three major films: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown — all based on (partially hijacked) eccentric crime-caper plots, witty repartee and innovative curse-word combinations.
But on Friday, Tarantinoverse changed forever.
After six years of silence, Quentin Tarantino released Kill Bill Volume 1, a film that showcases a lot more than just some bad ass Kung Fu. With his latest venture, the most famous film geek on the planet shies away from the recurring ruse of his early work, instead embracing the artistic innovation that had apparently been lying dormant.
It is a creative leap that could quite possibly secure Tarantino as the directing genius of his generation.
Kill Bill stars Tarantino muse Uma Thurman as “the bride” (a contract killer in her past) whose wedding party is slaughtered by Bill and his squad of world-class assassins, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (oh yeah, this movie is all about cool). “The Bride” escapes death, wakes from a four-year coma and then sets out to kill every one of the killers involved in massacre.
Tarantino — always one to have fun with his audience, getting his kicks here by withholding essential tidbits needed to completely comprehend the storyline — incorporating story quirks such as buzzing out Thurman’s real name whenever it is spoken and even failing to reveal any facets of the Bride’s past.
Story quirks aren’t the only devices Tarantino brought along from his early work. Besides the return of Uma, Michael Madsen stars in his third Tarantino flick, this time as the lone male assassin Budd.
The plot unfolds in chapters, which allows Tarantino one of his favorite vices — jumping from past to present and back again. There’s never been a home for the chronological in Tarantinoverse.
Also, Bill marks the reprisal of one of the most memorable scenes from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs — “The Walk.” Here the slow motion cool scene of Reservoir’s swaggering gang of baddies is replaced by Lucy Liu’ posse of scoundrels who are definitely from the comic book crook dimension. This “Walk,” a piece of vintage Tarantino, comes across exponentially cooler than it’s strutting predecessor.
If these few creative aspects sound like more of the same old tricks, they are. But unlike Tarantino’s previous films — when this stuff was nothing more than a bombastic guise of smoke and mirrors used to carry the flick — Bill employs these tricks as nuances used to subtly decorate this artistically blaring, semi-satirical karate-sploitation.
This flick is a showcase for the new Tarantino, a dog that has learned a library’s full of new tricks to coincide with his regular pouch of old ones.
Along with a dynamic musical score by Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, Tarantino also incorporates a wealth of Orson Welles-esque camera angles, colorfully rousing scene composition and even a portion of unsettling animation into the Kill Bill mix.
Oh yeah, and there’s a whole lotta blood. A segment of the long-running fight scene was even shot in black and white so that Tarantino could avoid an NC-17 rating. The kids will love it.
With Bill, Tarantino sprays a creative homage to his biggest “guilty pleasure” directorial influences (ergo Ishiro Honda and Alfred Vohrer) as evildoers in the flick spray an abundance of fake blood during their messy death sequences.
Why so much blood? Because nearly half of this first installment of Kill Bill is a glorious fight sequence. And somehow, with all of the rump-kicking, this still manages to be a great all-around film thanks to various plot twists and turns and, of course, an excellent storyline.
In the end, though, Bill may leave you asking questions thanks to Tarantino’s TV show, to-be-continued ending. But — thanks to Miramax cutting it into two pieces — these are questions that will be answered in Bill’s follow-up, to be released in February.
Bill’s questions are almost as pressing as all of those asked in real life; those about Tarantino’s next creative move, film direction and longevity.
It has been almost a week since that fateful October 10, and those questions are answered…once and for all.
Gone are the days of overly narrative storytelling crammed with boastful dialogue, all carried by random quips and retorts. Now is the new Tarantino, equipped with imaginative film craft and a robust helping of cool — karate kool, that is.
Welcome to the new Tarantinoverse.
Contact Nick Margiassoat firstname.lastname@example.org