Thursday, October 16, 2003

"KILL BILL" didn't strike me as a great movie the way "Pulp Fiction" did, though it was beautifully filmed. I left the theater feeling not much of anything, much like the New Yorker's critic. But the movie didn't make me mad the way the trailer for the next "Matrix" installment did.

I know that a lot of my favorite people like that kind of movie. Lileks, the king of bloggers, inspired this post by making the opposite point, disdaining Tarantino while confessing a love of all things Matrix, even if he knows they suck. So I'll refrain from calling the easily-thrilled-by-explosions-and-shiny-objects crowd any bad names. But what, what, what does anybody see in this crap? The special effects? There was a time when the special effects alone would have been worth the price of admission, but today special effects aren't special at all. They're expected, and we know that the filmmakers can pretty much create any illusion they want to create. Is it the acting, the dialogue? Right. Cue orchestra, put thousands of extras in place, have someone with over-the-top costume and make-up announce with bombast something that starts with "I shall . . ." Doesn't get more exciting than that. (OK, fine, so I never actually saw a "Matrix" movie. Maybe they're brilliant once you get past the superficial stuff that the ads showcase. But I doubt it.)

Given my bespectacled-nerd-Monty Python-fan background, you'd think I'd be a huge science-fiction enthusiast. You'd be wrong. I want my fiction, whether it's a book or a movie, contemporary and essentially realistic -- or at least original in its fantasy. I can't stand olde-tyme epics either; I put them in the same category as science fiction. Special effects turn me off. Period costumes turn me off. When I played astronaut as a kid, my missions had to remain faithful to the basic precepts of the Apollo program. I liked "A Wrinkle in Time." I liked the "Twilight Zone" TV series. But that's about it. I'm sure there's other good sci-fi out there somewhere, but what I see when I look at the genre is a lack of imagination hiding behind a "Look how imaginative I am!" sign.

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