Finally, a movie that did not disappoint. Went to see Kill Bill tonight, and Tarantino has out-Rodriguezed Once Upon a Time in the vengeance-flick department–it may be my favorite film this year. Yes, there are buckets of blood (gee, what did you expect, exactly), but in many ways this is even more a stylish film than Tarantino’s earlier ones.
What Tarantino masters here is “playing it straight.” The joke is not a joke when it is accompanied by nods and winks, or–as in the case of the second Matrix–when it takes itself too seriously. Like many of Tarantino’s work, this is an homage. It is a fine line between derivative cliche on the one hand and celebration of filmic tradition on the other, and this falls heavily to the latter. I can’t wait for the second installment, in which Samuel L. Jackson appears.
The other film that was a pleasant surprise, continuing a certain japanophilic streak, was Lost in Translation. It does an amazing job of capturing and conveying the very specific feeling of an expatriate in Tokyo better than I have ever seen on film or in writing. It is a thoroughly charming film.
Update: Someone emailed me wondering how this scored an A+. I was actually talking about my blood type. Inside joke–so inside only I would get it. (Actually, about 90% of my jokes are only detected as jokes by me, which makes me a pretty entertained guy during the day. If you hear me say something, it’s probably a pun, a joke, sarcasm, irony, doggerel, or failed wit.) But I would give the film 4 stars out of 5. I’d definitely watch it again. No joke.