Dan Friedman
No Pulp, p.4

In time, and with loud championing, Joyce's work demonstrated to a wider public a new way to think about literature that could incorporate a broader cultural output than had been possible previously. This Joycean model of intertextuality - in the context of cinema - is Tarantino's aim, and, in terms of virtuosic appropriation and redeployment of the elements of music, costume, set, choreography, and character, it seems as though he achieves it. Rather than the model of Ulysses, Tarantino builds upon a Medea-like Thurman and harnesses her to bushido - a modern warrior code every bit as crippling as the classical fates. He does this with such aplomb that the film has the sense of epic even as it deadens the emotions and parades its roots in Kung Fu and blaxploitation flicks.

For better or for worse, Kill Bill wants to deny that films are primarily about depth. Critics like Denby are right to complain that they "feel nothing" upon leaving the theatre - but that is not a relevant critique of the film. As the film is neither a documentary nor a social critique it chooses to obey only one of the Aristotelian imperatives of drama: to delight and instruct. Film is neither sentimental instruction nor moral teaching. It is film, and as such, Tarantino thinks it only needs to be "delightful". Do we ask what we "learned" or "felt" from a delicious ice-cream sundae?

The trouble is that the film falls between these different aims. The delight it gives is a dry appreciation of the film auteur rather than the gut enjoyment of the mise-en-scene. At the same time as it proves the interconnectedness of cinema while redeeming chosen overlooked genres and aesthetics, it empties them of their context. We are left admiring the swirl of the vanilla rather than its flavour. Now, I have heard, and argued against, similar reasoning used by opponents of hiphop and other styles of musical sampling. Yet unlike the successes of those art forms, here Tarantino neither succeeds in updating the quoted genres nor in doing anything with the recontextualization of the allusions.

Although it is exciting to see a major film reject the crass sentimentalism that seems to be driving the third sections of Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, and Star Wars the statement Kill Bill makes is not broad enough. The surface that it presents proves nothing more than the possibility of its own existence as a part of a cinematic continuum. It's beautiful, but it's a dead end.

[1]       [2]       [3]       4

Related articles:

More than This Dan Friedman
Lost in Translation: A snapshot of the evansescent
October, 2003

Holocaust Video Testimonies Dan Friedman
The other reality TV
August, 2003

Simulacra and Science Fiction Dan Friedman
May Tricks: Reel-or-Dead?
June, 2003

Antifada Paratrooper Michael Kuratin
The new Israeli smash hit
May, 2003

Genuine Authentic Gangsta Flava Dan Friedman
Ali G.: The Poseur's Poseur
April, 2003

What is Charlie Kaufman Doing? Dan Friedman
The interdependence of fantasy and reality
February, 2003

Far from Heaven: Excavating Paradise Peter Conklin and Dan Friedman
Viewing the 1950s through its own fantastic prism
January, 2003

Wrestling with Installation Art Michael Shurkin
Arte Povera, Damien Hirst, and annoying pomo intellectualism
December, 2002

Fast Track from Ridgemont High Dan Friedman
Sean Penn and intertextuality
September, 2002

Keep Your Eyes Peeled Dan Friedman
The limited vision of Minority Report
August, 2002

Drawing a Line in the Cheese Michael Shurkin
Totalitarianism, kitsch, and Mamma Mia
August, 2002

Stars of the Small Screen Dan Friedman
The undervalued genre of airplane movies
July, 2002

November 2003

Niles Goldstein

France and Antisemitism
Michael Shurkin

Jay Michaelson

No Pulp
Dan Friedman

Raphael Cohen

Koby Israelite
Matthue Roth

Josh's Jewish Reminders
Josh Ring

Our 390 Back Pages

David Stromberg

Zeek in Print
Fall issue now on sale

About Zeek


Contact Us



From previous issues:

Mix Tape vs. Mix CD
Bex Schwartz

The Queer Guy at the Strip Club
Jay Michaelson

How I Learned to Stop Worrying & Love the Beatles
Jay Michaelson