Monday, May 17, 2004


This week we pose the simple question, "What is inspiration?" For some it might be feeling one's heart still beat harder after all these years just seeing the way the saunterer moves and her splendid scent. For others it might be marveling at how well a three-legged cat manages with so much energy to face life's challenges. For those sad and broken hearted life has been reduced to looking for inspiration in the inside of a fortune cookie.

Thus what is so inspiring about Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 isn't only the thought provoking theme of whether revenge can ultimately lead to a satisfying feeling of redemption but also Tarantino's obvious love of movies. The thrill of film making vibrates off the screen in Kill Bill Vol. 2 much as it did in Kill Bill Vol. 1.

There is a manic energy to both films that is utterly infectious. On the surface the plot of the series is extremely simple- Uma Thurman's character "The Bride" is left for dead by the father of her unborn baby. After years in a coma she is determined to eliminate all the members of the death squad that participated in her being shot in the head during her wedding rehearsal. After one by one eliminating the vicious killers of the death squad, "The Bride" must of course live up to the title of the films and kill her love Bill.

The two films are perhaps the most grisly and violent movies I've ever seen. It still amazes me that both were rated "R" rather than "NC-17." What's even more shocking is that during the Saturday night evening showing in Roseville that the Blue-Eyed Editor and I attended a couple actually brought in their young children. How those kids cannot be permanently scarred by the intensity (and violence) of Kill Bill Vol. 2 scared the two of us to no end.

Thurman is terrific in the lead role. She's sexy and tenaciously tough yet there is a sympathetic vulnerability in her performance that makes us root for her on some level even as she is poking out eyes and killing and maiming everyone that has ever done her wrong.

What is most inspiring about both Kill Bill movies however was Tarantino's peerless ability to write clever and witty dialogue. Yes the words his characters spout probably are way too cunning for anyone in real life to really say in our day to day existence but that can be forgiven because Tarantino's characters despite their flaws are written so smart, so deeply that it is pure joy just to listen to what they have to say.

So for me and maybe me alone to answer the question posed at the beginning of this column what is inspiring is the skillful use of words and to ooze every ounce of meaning from how limiting words are when conveying something far beyond.

Talk of inspiration and the connection with how related that concept is with all that is spiritual is sure to come up. Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a great example of how some of us can be inspired and that is enough while others feel inspiration and need to do something more. The feeling is so intense that one finds it one's duty to find a way to share the intensity of the feeling with others.

What makes Kill Bill Vol. 2 even better than it's better than most other movies predecessor is that this time Tarantino doesn't feel the need to get his point across by spurting blood at all times but rather by some quiet reflective moments where the characters acknowledge their own weaknesses while at the same time appreciating (while taking advantage of) the weaknesses of their nemesis. The most terrifying moment of the sequel is the sequence where Thurman/The Bride is left for dead, buried alive by Bill's son Budd. The Bride calls upon her killer training and the ability to put mind over matter and punch her way through a thick piece of wood and six feet of dirt. As Thurman claws her way out of the grave the metaphor of rising above one's dire circumstances is gruesomely played out. And the meaning of inspiration is truly accurately revealed and uncovered.

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