We’re jumping all over the place here, skipping some movies to cover the ones that are connected. Two little series to talk about, one being Kill Bill and the other the fabled Apu Trilogy.
#23, 26 Kill Bill
With Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight now making its way into theaters, it seemed appropriate to visit some of his older stuff. My favorites of his, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2, are two vastly different films in terms of style all telling the same story. It’s a revenge story of mythical proportions, The Bride (Uma Thurman) hunts down those who tried to kill her (and murdered her fiance) in this nearly 4 hour tale. With inspirations from old samurai films, newer, more gory kung-fu, spaghetti westerns, and Tarantino’s own little spin, the Kill Bill films are pure fun, a sheer pleasure to watch.
With fantastic characters, unforgettable performances, and action scenes that will go down as some of the best, it is easy to see why there is still a half-hope for a third part to the series. The conclusion to the first part alone, if you showed only that, could serve as an amazing short-film. The bloodshed, violence, and catchy music all combine for one of the greatest moments of cinema in the last few decades. While the second volume slows down in style and violence, it makes up for it with a surprising amount of emotion and closure as the Bride makes her way to the final kill. It’s easy to see why some are turned away from Tarantino, but it’s also easy to see why film buffs–like myself–flock to him.
#25, 27, 33 The Apu Trilogy
Perhaps the greatest director to ever come from India, and one of the most famous directors of all time–though most people hardly know the name–is Satyajit Ray. His first films, which are Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and Apur Sansar (released in ’55, ’56’ and ’59 respectively), are based on Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay’s novels, and follow Apu, a character we see growing throughout the trilogy. In the 90s, the original prints of the film suffered tremendous damage in a fire, thus making it hard for them to be converted to modern technology. Recently, a massive undertaking to repair them went underway, and just this year they were released in their breathtaking glory.
An influence on countless directors (Scorsese, Wes Anderson, as well as musicians,) Pather Panchali starts off with Apu as a child living in Bengal. It is a simple, intimate film, shot in rural Bengal. There are some wondrous shots to be held of lazy rivers and Apu running through fields, and like life, the ending is not necessarily happy.
It is amazing to see Ray grow as a filmmaker over the course of the three films, especially when his very first film is considered a masterpiece–as is the whole trilogy. Aparajito has Apu moving to the big city, and the open fields and rivers are replaced by claustrophobic interiors and grungy streets. He grows older, takes exams, works, and Ray continuously is insightful, philosophical, and patient.
The trilogy ends with Apur Sansar. Apu has become an adult, he dreams of being a writer, and circumstance has him getting married. I won’t spoil the big moments, but it is the grand conclusion of a human, spiritual trilogy that really draws things to a warm, forward-looking end. Anybody who has an interest in world cinema, or is just a film buff, needs to watch these movies.