Celebrating Great Films

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kill Bill (1 & 2)

Kill Bill#90 and #116 at time of writing.

If you think you might have been desensitised to screen violence, Kill Bill will test your boundaries. Some of it makes uncomfortable viewing. But then you can't help getting swept along as the camera worships Uma Thurman's deadly character; her vendetta is so pure that you have to root for her as she racks up the body count.

Unstoppably cool set pieces, dialogue, and over-the-top comic book violence - with splendid gashes of colour and toe-tappingly funky music - propel this revenge epic as it rampages through your brain at a record rate of homages-per-minute towards its tense and satisfying ending.

It's films like this that convince me that Quentin Tarantino and his actor buddies have the best jobs in the world. He offered Uma Thurman the script to Kill Bill, and her role as "The Bride", as a 30th birthday present. How do I get me one of those?


Chinatown#44 at time of writing.

This late take on the film noir genre is renowned as having one of the best scripts of all time. The story is indeed clever, if a little complicated at first. Even if you do feel a bit lost at the beginning, it is definitely worth sticking it out while the scale of the conspiracy is discovered and the sense of menace grows.

The characters are wonderful, with Jack Nicholson playing private eye Jake Gittes, who manages never to be out of his depth simply because he has so much of it; and Faye Dunaway playing femme fatale Evelyn Mulwray, cloaked in mystery, and eventually tragedy.

Amusingly, the role of Evelyn Mulwray was originally intended for the producer's wife, Ali MacGraw, but she lost the role when she divorced him for Steve McQueen.

This film manages to be an evocative noir despite being in full colour - the only darkness is provided by the characters themselves. And the atmosphere is underpinned beautifully by haunting trumpet solos throughout.

The bitter taste of injustice that you are left with at the end is all the more poignant because the scandals that inspired the story are based on truth.