Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Tuesday, January 11, 2005  

When the cat's away . . .

When my wife is away, I will ocassionally go to the video store and rent a bunch of movies that I sort of wanted to see because of the buzz about them, but then didn't really want to see because I knew they weren't going to be edifying in any way.

That being the case, I decided to rent Kill Bill vol.s 1 and 2. Why did these films garner so much critical praise from so many critics?

I had to fast forward through great swathes of the films because frankly, the movie (let's call it a single story) is boring, trite, trivial, lifeless, and unblievably tedius in its violence. The dialog which so many seem to prize in Tarantino is just plain silly and unrewarding. There is no there there. It is all formless and so self-consciously precious as to be falsely ironic. It is meant to be camp, and we are meant to know it is camp, all wink wink, nudge nudge you get it and I know you get it that I get it and lets circle jerk some more.

That's the refuge of a bankrupt artist - in jokes, and jokes on the in jokes. Tarantino has absolutely nothing to say about human beings except that he hates them, of course.

Also, I'm fed up with this trend in action movies where stud chicks are tougher, stronger, faster, and more lethal than males. It doesn't work. No one believes that an 85 pound girl can knock down or out a 250 linebacker with one punch to the jaw. I want women to be women again, and not saw-offed men with skinny arms.

I will give the director some credit - he takes a lot of cliche's and arranges them cleverly so that there is some surprise - here some anime, there some noir B&W, and so on but all adds up to a big nothing - a big bore.

The gore is on a Grand Guignol scale, and much more excessive (that was the point, wasn't it) than The Passion of the Christ which so many of Quentin adoring critics described as sado-masochistic pornography.

Frankly, I find myself astonished, simply non-plussed, that so many pagans have such useless powers of discernment and intellectual ability. That anyone would find Kill Bill of any artistic value is incredible. That anyone would find it mesmerizing, fascinating, and delightful makes you lose faith in common sense and mature observation of life and art.

Immature minds cannot center their delight on the profound or sublime, and so, being shallow, can only enjoy surface effects. The philosopher, Kant, made an important distinction in his considering of beauty and sublimity. He said that beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; it is in the object. Whereas the sublime is in the beholder and not the object.

A statue is beautiful on its own. It was made beautiful. Only the most disturbed and contrary of people can look at a beautiful object and despise it or reject it. That's why nearly everyone recoils at the mess of Modern Art and its hatred of beauty.

But to experience the sublime in art comes from what a person has made of their soul. Sublimity exalts the person who observes.

The Passion of the Christ
was profound because it provoked the sublime in the people who came to watch it. It was beautiful, and even more so because the violence in it was true and horrible because it was unrelieved by rescue or revenge.

Kill Bill, and I mentally gag in having to even bring it back in this context off discussion, is the cheapest of all cheap things, an artistic turd. It would be like setting up a few of Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes or the soup can in the Sistine Chapel. The comparison, the proximity of the Real to a bit of childish snot, would be withering.

Yet, the modern pagan critics would complain that it would be unfair to judge them in this way; that you judge a work of art on whether it meets its own intentions and not if it can stand up against a different kind of intention.

Kill Bill intends to be cheeky, self-conscious, and precious and succeeds at it, you bluestocking. The Passion of the Christ intended to convert us, and failed, you zealot.

My brother-in-law was a hip San Francisco artists of the 80's. One hip party he told me about having with his friends involved a work of performance art where they took polaroid pictures of various people present and then put them into a frying pan and cooked them. Get it?

Well, no, of course not. It's a kind of silly thing which one can find assorted meanings in if one tries, but the biggest message is - we can do anything and its wild, funny, crazy, ironic, sarcastic, cynical, and fun because we, uh, did it for no particular reason. Get it?

That's Kill Bill. It is sophomoric, jejune, puerile, and masturbatory.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:12 AM |