My good friend Bad Lieutenant said:
I fail to see what is post modern about Kill Bill. To me it's merely an overlong and incoherent mess. Plenty of style over substance, but nothing new going on.
Probably, but the term post-modernism is not an indication of quality (or the absence of it)
Titoli (welcome to the family by the way) said:
Post-modernism probably has always been there after modernism. For example De Palma was making movies that are straight references to other movies (Sisters, Dressed to Kill, Phantom of the paradise, Scarface etc.) a decade or two before Tarantino.
And my favorite example of how post-modernism is in dna of pop music are Beatles and Stones who started out as tribute bands to their rhythm, and blues idols and hadn’t really changed that much their style later.
Film makers and musicians have always referred to other film makers and musicians (take Brahms and his Hungarian Dances for example, or Shakespeare reworking Biblical or classical Greek or Roman themes), but post-modernism means that there is absolotely no reference to a world outside the work of art. It’s related to Derrida’s statement:
“Il n’y a pas de hors-texte”
Usually this is translated as: There’s nothing outside the text. But that would be nonsense: there’s of course a lot outside the text, or any text. What it says (I’m going too deep into these things, otherwise we would still be here at the end of the week) is that everything that is said (about any possible subject) is a text functioning within the field of texts. In only words: it only refers to other texts about the subject, not to the subject ‘as such/an sich’ (a term from Kant)
The illustrate this: a postmodern western, doesn’t refer to the West, but only to other westerns.
To me, Once upon a Time in the West (or Leone’s other westerns) are not post-modern, because they do refer to the real West (Leone was always keen on saying that his westerns were more realistic than American westerns). The question here is not if Leone’s films are realistic, but that they refer to a reality (the West) outside the movie, outside the work of art.
Tarantino, and his movies, are different in this aspect: when asked what kind of research he did on slavery, the real West, he answered: None.
Maybe this was a joke, I don’t know, but if you accept it, Django Unchained becomes a full-blooded post-modern movie: it only refers to other movies (other texts/movies about the West)
To me Kill Bill is such a movie too: it refers to other movies, to martial arts movies, spaghetti westerns, anime, but not to any reality outside the movie. It’s pure film making (a neutral term, not a compliment), but to me pure film making at its best (and that is a compliment)