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About the fate of the bride

Last week I remembered I could go to movies in English in Vienna, and saw Big Fish at a theater on Mariahilferstra├če, the Haydn, which specializes in non-dubbed American films. The movie was excellent, but just as interesting were the two discoveries I made while at the theater. The first is what seems to me a bizarre ticketing system: different films cost different amounts, depending on their freshness and popularity, and for each film there is a second range of prices depending on where you sit – the front row is cheap, middlish seats less so, and the back is expensive. When you buy a ticket, the row and number of the seat you selected is printed thereon, as if for a concert. It’s very strange, but has the advantage of obviating all the frustration of searching for a good seat once inside. The second discovery was that Kill Bill Vol. II, Quentin Tarantino’s fourth or fifth film depending on how you look at it, was coming to Vienna on the 22nd (today) and the theater was showing it at 12:01 am, immediately preceded by Vol. 1. This pleased me.

I enjoyed the first film immensely, despite the fact that it was unlike anything Tarantino had ever directed before. The constant over-the-top violence, accompanied by absolute fountains of squirting blood, often set amid lengthy, elaborate kung-fu scenes earned it the label of pornographic by more than a few critics. This factor, combined with a de-emphasis of Tarantino’s usual winding dialogues led the movie to be a departure from his prior work. It was an excellent movie, but by no stretch of the imagination was it Pulp Fiction or Resevoir Dogs. I expected the second installment to follow closely in the footsteps of the first, and was surprised.

Vol. II is almost as much of a departure from Vol. I as the latter was from Tarantino’s other films. Graphic violence, while still present, is no longer the mainstay, and takes a back seat to profound emotional outpouring and even some of Tarantino’s trademark conversations, peppered throughout with self-aware gags. The humor becomes more common and less dark; at times, such as when the ancient Kung Fu master Pai Mei emphasizes his cruel tutelage of Kiddo with a sweeping aside of his flowing white beard, it is almost absurd. If the first film was self-aware of its overdose of carnage – and therefore self-deprecating – then the second inherits this inward eye in its approach to slapstick. I won’t spoil it by giving too much away, so suffice it to say that it is a very different film, and very much worth seeing. I haven’t yet decided which I enjoyed more.

It’s also interesting to note that there are some significant cultural differences in seat preference among Wieners as compared to the States. When I bought my ticket and requested the sixth row, a near-perfect distance from the screen, the cashier tried to dissuade me, arguing that it was far too close and that better seats were still available. Sure enough, nearly all the early birds who bought tickets before I did – more than three days prior – were seated five or six rows behind me, as she showed me on her monitor. I persisted and got the seat I wanted, but I’m sure she thought I was an oddball. Wieners apparently don’t like to move their head at all during the show. It’s understandable, but then, they couldn’t see the lines around Bill’s mouth and eyes during his monologues nearly as well as I

Posted in Musings.

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