Kill Bill Vol. II as Re-Victimization?
The over-the-top sexual violence in the first reel of Vol. I of Tarantino's "masturbatory epic" [--Slate magazine's David Edelstein, reading on NPR today] is neither sufficiently stylized nor contextually comic enough, as were the violence of Pulp Fiction, to spare the heart-sensitive viewer from feeling victimized her/him/myself. Most empathetic lovers of women watching it were, I daresay, assaulted along with Uma by its all-too-realistic depiction of an extreme that is, unfortunately, not so unthinkable or humorously juxtaposed to the everyday and mundane as to distance its horror from our souls, thus dooming the rest of the film to association with that fresh experience of aesthetic rape. And there is no aesthetic excuse for that sort of crappy, violent filmmaking---and here I don't mean filmmaking that uses violence; I mean filmmaking that practices it on its viewers.
I hear now, via Mr. Edelstein, that the second half of the u"berwork is a denouement of sorts, with lots of talk and character stuff. It might provide some comfort to the victims of its opening, he suggests in a way, and my initial distaste for inviting succor from the aesthetic rapist himself subsides momentarily at the thought that it was, after all, only an aesthetic rape, and maybe one should give the bastard another chance. Maybe one might benefit, even, from a therapeutic effect of a second film containing some humanity. But could I go so far as to give the punk even a tiny part of my $7.50 or $8.50 or $8.fuckin'75? I have my hesitations, to say the least.
Then I see Edelstein's written piece, in which he characterizes both parts together as "great fun," and I know he's not the critic for me. In fact, look---there in the first paragraph---he celebrates that Tarantino "didn't pretend that Kill Bill had any intent besides getting people off." And who gets off at the rape-for-pay of coma victims who awaken during their assault? No, it's not an aesthetic kick to be that extreme, and it's neither aesthetically necessarily nor even aesthetically appropriate to give our protagonist such excessive cause for hatred of her nemesis. Moreover, what does it do to put such a movie in front of audiences, some members of which will be horrified and traumatized while others next to them are "getting off"?
Let the chorus of "femiNazi!"s begin---and let those unsympathetic with current and past victims of sexual violence get off in the privacy of their own homes. As for me, now I'm going to go read Andrew Sarris on Part I (second half of this review) & see if he can persuade me there's something redeeming in that film---or if, for the first time I know of, there'll be a movie he liked that I hated.