I saw Kill Bill last night, and I thought it was great, but in ways that it's easy for people not to get, apparently -- it got Easterbrook was undone by going off in his web-log about it, getting fired by ESPN over remarks that in the right light look anti-semetic... but the point is, he got all upset about the violence in Kill Bill, whereas I found the violence so cartoonish and outlandish that it can't possibly be taken as anything real. And I'm a guy that avoids violent movies because I can't detach from the suffering of the characters.
The violence in Kill Bill is on the level of Itchy and Scratchy -- limbs fly off, blood splashes as if thrown from buckets, blood sprays out of wounds as though veins were pressure hoses. The whole movie's premise is ridiculous and defies logic and physics at every turn. It is at root a love letter to Japanese Pop Culture and Martial Arts Cinema. The point of Kung Fu movies, and the point here is that the fighting is a form of ballet, and Uma Thurman is great in the role.
The whole thing is a regular film-school festival of movie-making technique as well. The use of color, staging, camera work, are virtuostic. When I think back on it I think "Show Off!" but while I was watching the movie I was transfixed and wholly into it. And the little touches -- instead of shooting Tokyo's skyline as the plane lands, Tarantino constructs a model Tokyo, just like the one Godzilla stomps, and when the jet is shown flying it's a model that always flies through an improbably orange sunset -- no matter which direction it's flying.
I can safely say that this is a movie that had me at hello, kept me rapt for the whole time, and sent me out in the street feeling like my real life was a strange dream by comparison. Which is all the more remarkable by being a purposefully artificial, stagey, mannered, unrealistic bit of complete fantasy. In the same way that a Pollock says "this is paint on canvas" Kill Bill says "this is light flickering through celluloid" and like Pollock, it gets to you anyway.
And in a different medium and completely different tone, I finished Ursula K. Le Guin's The Telling. This is another of her political/philosophical allegories, like "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Dispossessed." Apparently readers on Amazon weren't too pleased, but the favorable reviewers seem reasonable, and the unfavorable reviewers sound like dumbasses. I felt like it was stunningly well written. Like her other political allegories, it takes it's time painting a nuanced portrait of a cultural/political clash of ideologies. Le Guin is one of the best authors in any genre currently alive, in any genre. I'd read her grocery lists, but luckily she gives us plenty to read and think about.