Friday, November 27, 2015

Top 52 Things I Love About Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (that no one talks about)

To watch the second volume of a film is to compare it to the first. Rarely are The Godfather and The Godfather Part II mentioned in the same breath without mentioning which one the speaker likes better. Same for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga. Rather famously, Tarantino shot the film at one time, as a whole, and decided in editing to cut the films in two. The results continue to split audiences. When I saw Vol. 2 in the theater, I expected the balls-to-the-wall action extravaganza of Vol. 1 to still be in play. Instead, Vol. 2 revealed itself to be a patient, more restrained follow-up. Vol. 2 is a straight drama with a few thrilling action sequences, as opposed to Vol. 1, a straight action film with a few dramatic scenes. As it turns out, I like both volumes equally, but feel free to share your thoughts on the whole saga!

Forget the cute kung-fu throwback opening title cards of Vol. 1Vol. 2 opens with a punch to the throat, with Ennio Morricone’s foreboding “A Silhouette of Doom” blaring away.

Forever in love with Tarantino’s use of multiple fonts in his credits. The man gives zero fucks about tradition, while remaining indebted to it at the same time.

Oh, QT… you slay me.

A line so nice, they had Reverend Harmony (Bo Svenson) say it twice.

Svenson’s delivery of, “… thank you, Mother.”

The panic that comes over The Bride’s (Uma Thurman) face when she hears Bill (David Carradine) playing his flute outside. She knows before we do, and the tension is unbearable.

A friendly reminder that Robert Richardson and his white hot lights continue to make him one of the best cinematographers in the business.

Look how bored Rufus (Samuel L. Jackson) is in the background. A great actor is always on, no matter where they are in the frame.

If you look closely in that front left window, you can see Bill jump out of the way as the remaining four members of his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad wreak havoc on the church.

Budd (Michael Madsen) getting hit with indigestion while talking to Bill. Directed, or improvised?

Budd telling Bill he pawned his Hattori Hanzo sword. Later, we learn that Budd still has the sword, so he’s only telling Bill he hawked it just to piss Bill off. Hilarious.

Budd’s reaction to The Bride coming for him. Like… dude, she just paved her way through an entire Japanese mafia army, and you aren’t the least bit scared?

The mirror image of Budd’s call back line at the end of Vol. 1. From what I can tell, it is the exact same take, which means Tarantino literally flipped the image in post on one of them. But why?

There’s that goddamn white 1980 Honda Civic Tarantino loves so much.

Sid Haig! He played the judge in Jackie Brown and was a staple of the blaxploitation films of the ‘60s and ‘70s that Tarantino was raised on.

This shot is expert filmmaking. I know it’s hard, but stop paying attention to Larry Bishop’s perfect performance for a moment and study this shot. Look at what the production design is telling us about this world, without really telling us: blow on the table, stacks of cash next to it, shotgun in the corner, busy calendar on the wall (which is referenced in a bit) – we know who these people are before we KNOW who these people are. It really is expert stuff.

Larry (Larry Bishop) mocking Budd under his breath. I love everything this man does in this scene. It’s a highlight of Tarantino’s career.

“You don’t even know what fuckin’ day you work.”

Budd letting out a little whimper as Larry crosses Budd’s name off the calendar.

Rocket’s (Laura Cayouette) entitled delivery of “Mmm hmm” when Budd says he’ll clean up the bathroom.

The little gestures Madsen does with his face in close-up. Makes me even more excited for The Hateful Eight.

The music cueing up as The Bride takes off her ski mask.

That barely-there fill light way in the background, center frame. Robert Richardson, I love you.

The Bride’s Hanzo sword getting stuck in a barrel after Budd kicks it away.

My favorite line of the film.

The fact that the shots of The Bride tied up are displayed in 4:3….

… and the way that switches back to 2.35:1 when The Bride is slammed on the ground.

I always wondered what Budd did with Paul Schultz’s corpse.

Ernie (Clark Middleton). Like, who the fuck is this guy? He just gets a call from Budd in the middle of the night, asking if he wants to bury a woman alive? Oh, and he has to dig the fucking hole, too. “Sure, Budd! As long as you got beer!”

One of the most terrifying insert shots ever filmed.

Bill all beaten up after his meeting with Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). “Just a friendly contest.” Wouldn’t you have loved to see that scene?

The whooshing sound design of The Bride and Pai Mei moving their hair back and forth.

How purposefully artificial some of the backgrounds are in the training montage.

The Bride punching in her sleep.

The music cueing up as The Bride successfully eats with chopsticks (and Pai Mei’s satisfaction with this).

My favorite part about The Bride escaping from being buried alive is that it really feels like Thurman was directed to just figure it out. It’s such a long, clunky sequence, specifically designed to feel that way. Moving her hands to get the rope in the best cutting position, shifting the flashlight around… it all feels so real.

The apparent disdain that Budd has for making margaritas.

Elle Driver’s (Daryl Hannah) smooth, controlled pace as she walks down Budd’s “hallway” to retrieve the Hanzo sword during her fight with Beatrix.

Best hero shot of the film.

The yellow text on that poster. That’s Tarantino humor for you.

Okay, obviously the gouging out of Elle’s only functional eye has been discussed a lot. But if you saw Kill Bill: Vol. 2 in a crowded theater, you know you can never let go of that initial joy the moment this happened on the screen. People fucking lost it in theater. Applauding, standing, cheering – it was amazing.

Esteban Vihaio (Michael Parks) lifting his right leg to rest it on top of his left.

Oh, and, yeah, a friendly reminder that this is the same guy. Incredible.

Esteban’s insanely slow blinks.

I love that Esteban calls this poor woman over to his table, as if to display her as a warning to Beatrix. It’s Esteban’s way of saying, “Move easy here, my dear Beatrix. You know what I can and will do.”

Beatrix smiling as B.B. (Perla Haney-Jardine) comes to comfort her after playing pretend with guns.

“Mommy, do you wanna watch a video with me before sleepytime?”
“Oh yeah, I would love to, which one do you wanna watch?”
(without missing a beat) “Shogun Assassin.”

So good.

Love how the film accurately shows (in real time, no less) Bill getting drunker as he downs tequila. So many films treat alcohol like prop water.

That loud gasp Bill lets out after Beatrix performs the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique on him.

And people say QT can’t do sweet…

The credit sequence that never ends. And I can’t get enough of it.

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  1. There's so much about the second part that I love such as seeing Sid Haig and Larry Bishop. I love those little moments.

    As for that sequence with Elle and what the Bride does to her.... here's another little anecdote that involves my mother seeing some scenes of the film. Of that scene, she was on her chair and when that moment happened. She was like "puta madre!" She couldn't believe that would happen as she liked that moment. She also loved the music in the film.

    Another thing I noticed is the brand of sandwich bread that was used during that scene where Bill tells B.B. about the Bride. It was Bimbo brand which is very common to those who live in Hispanic-areas. I would see that brand all of the time as my parents buy pastry from it but not the sandwich bread as we different standards about our bread. Still, I thought it was a nice little touch to see that brand of sandwich bread and what Bill was making for Beatrix and B.B.

    I love the little things about the film.

    1. I love Carradine acting while making sandwiches AND cutting the crusts off. Give your actors something to do with their hands as they say their lines, and they become much more interesting as a result.

    2. I love the attention to detail with the bread brand as well. That's QT, man, always keeping it real.

      Another great story about your mom. That's hilarious. Whatta fucking scene that is.

  2. While i do like Vol. 1 better, this is still a fantastic movie. I was a little disappointed with it the first time i saw it because of the lack of action, but i have grown to love it more and more over the years. David Carradine, who i had never really cared for as an actor before, really got to show off some great acting chops here. It's a shame the rest of his career could never really live up to this movie. I hope we one day actually will that Whole Bloody Affair edition with both movies edited together as one like Tarantino has promised for years. That would definitely be a day one purchase for me.

    1. QT's casting is much of what makes his work so good. Like, how could he know that Carradine would be perfect as Bill? It's such audacious and expert casting.

      I did find The Whole Bloody Affair online about three years ago. Don't know if it's still floating around. Not many changes to Vol. 2. It's mostly changes to the fight scene from Vol. 1. But if they ever released that, I'd be all over it too.

  3. There is no such thing as 'Enough Michael Parks' for your movie.

    I always loved the production design on the Larry Bishop cameo.

    Another cool little moment: The little spin Beatrix does after B.B. pretend shoots her. "You really are...the best."

    1. Couldn't agree more with all of this. Good call on that Beatrix spin.

  4. I haven't seen The Whole Bloody Affair, but I think Vol. 2 is just as wonderful as Vol. 1. This, yet again, is another great and detailed list. Really, awesome work. When Elle's eye was gouged out, I actually screamed.

    I just recently read an interview with Cate Blanchett where she said she was watching Kill Bill with her kids, but when the hospital scene from Vol. 1 came on, she took her 7 year old to the kitchen to make popcorn. I mean, need I say more? She's a goddess.

    1. One more thing: Uma Thurman should get more roles. Her acting in QT's films, especially Vol. 2, plus Linklater's Tape and LVT's Nymphomaniac, I mean, those are all truly great performances.

    2. Love that Blanchett story. That's priceless. And I totally agree on Thurman. It's weird how she kind of dropped off after Kill Bill. I think she's so talented!

  5. Love this as much as Vol. 1. With this one, QT was on his A-game with hia dialogue. It's not only incredibly witty, it's pertinent to the story every step of the way. The performances by Carradine, Madsen, and Hall, are all awesome, to. And yes, Thurman should get more roles.

    1. Good stuff man. Glad you're a fan of both of them. I think they are equally good for different reasons.

  6. Love this! I'm going to show my oddness here, but I think this is my favourite Tarantino film. I saw it with my little brother at the cinema when it came out, and I had to get some air during the burial escape scene(s) as I almost had a panic attack. I'm just a tad claustrophobic...

  7. This is awesome Alex. I am going to show my oddness here and let it be known that this is my favourite Tarantino film. When this was release I saw it at the cinema, and had to leave (for a bit) during the burial scenes as I started to have a panic attack. I am just a tad claustrophobic..

    1. Thanks Sam! I don't think that's odd at all! This movie rocks, and I too remember watching that burial scene for the first time in the theater. I was genuinely like, "Wait, how the hell is she going to get out of this!" Love it.

  8. I love how different the KB films are. Like you mentioned, it's kind of jarring at first, but it works so well. Great stuff man.

  9. "Bitch... you don't have a future!"

    Man, the goosebumps I've had when UT delivered that line, it was absolutely PERFECT!

    Also, great blog! I've bookmarked you right away.

    1. Thank you! I love that line as well. In fact, I need to sit down and watch both of these movies again. They're so damn good.