By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is a virtuoso wow, a disjointed but enticing collection of set pieces, a female-superhero triumph about a "silly Caucasian girl who likes to play around with samurai swords" that also serves as a roller-derby-type haven for voyeurs who want to see babes get their butts whupped. Even more kooky-crazily, it's a feminist saga whose every kickass act hinges on its heroine's urge for a baby, but hey, it's sleek, kicky fun and there's no doubt it's a way better vengeance vehicle for Uma Thurman than The Avengers.
Harvey Keitel and his wife celebrated their anniversary by going to the flick's premiere at the Ziegfeldand that's just the kind of anti-romantic thing I pictured they should do. Lord knows I showed, drenched in Hai Karate, and even went to the after-party at Noche, where Duran Duran's Nick Rhodes told me, "We're used to seeing squirting blood in England. We grew up on Monty Python!" (Well, I grew up on Monty Clift's car accident.)
Squirting sass at a table, Bill's kickass Vivica A. Fox gave me her own 50 Cent, saying, "I did the movie because I'd done back-to-back comedies and was looking for something dark and gritty." So what's gritty critter Tarantino really like? "He's not afraid of female empowerment," she replied. "People see him as crazy and outrageous, but he's actually so professional and crystal clear." Still, the shoot was a bit treacherous, Fox said, "and at one point, I counted 30 bruises on my thighs." Well, I counted even more times that Fox's character called Thurman a bitch. Did she ad-lib some of them? "No!" she balked. "Every bitch I said was in the script!"
At this point, Thurman came by looking all bedraggled from the overcrowding and told Fox, "I can't take this anymore! We're going to Soho House. We'll be there till we go to sleep." Rather than call Thurman a bitch, Fox said she couldn't join them because of an early flight, "but keep shining. I love you. Send my love to the kids. Congratulations!" There was so much love in the air, I counted 30 bruises on my thighs afterward.
I didn't go to Soho House, not because I wasn't invitedwell, not just because I wasn't invitedbut because there was some highfalutin New York Film Festival stuff to do till I went to sleep. Already, Clint Eastwood had told the opening-night crowd, "I'm the guy who's not running for governor of California," instead targeting a tougher room with his Mystic River, based on a book he first read about in a dentist's office. Alas, though it's got a certain dark majesty, River was like root canal, but more numbing, to my drowsy-assed self. Some Monty Python touches would have surely helped the characters, who float around, portentously indulging in clenched-jawed depression. ("Talk like me" must have been Clint's direction, "but break into an Oscar outburst once in a while.") The result is another geek tragedy for the working class (i.e., wet dream for angsty method actors) crossed with a very special Boston Public, with some Prince of Tides-like gay-pedophile panic tossed in. Give me Mystic Pizza anytime.
The next night, the party moved to the Waldorf when the fest celebrated a screening of the new DVD version of The Kids Are Alright, the seminal documentary about the Who (whose rock opera Tommy knew how to make pedophilia sing out with creepiness). Over a concert pianist playing old Who tunes as if they were scales, Roger Daltrey said that the Who were once banned at that very hotel because of some Kill Bill-worthy antics. "We put a cherry bomb down the toilet," he explained, "which I think blew an old lady off the toilet on another floor. We ended up in Central Park saying 'Fuck you, America.' " (So did the old lady.) But Daltrey loves us now, as does Kids director Jeff Stein, who said the Times once called the flick "willfully uninformative," but more recently gushed that it's "an exhilarating pastiche." Twenty-four years from now they'll probably like it as much as Mystic River.
Proving that the kids are alright, new music star Cazwell lured me into appearing in his "Do You Wanna Break Up?" video by writing, "I used to be half of the fag/dyke duo Morplay. I was the fag." (And no, I wasn't the dyke.) When I got to the set, the video's scenario had Cazwell breaking up with lovely transsexual Candis Cayne and ending up at a strip club filled with other luscious trannies. Wait, was the fag playing straight? "Sort of," said the director, "but we're not lying that much." I was deeply confused, but still found it an exhilarating pastiche.
Do you wanna break up laughing? Well, not only is it the biggest fag/dyke theater season since ancient Greece, but it's also the most puppety. Next up, Paula Vogel includes puppets in The Long Christmas Ride Home, the author feeling that during times of crisis, hand-operated figures are the receptacles for many of our fears. For me, it's toilet bowls with explosives.
Puppets are big on the tube these days, too. I know it's not exactly news that "reality TV" is the biggest oxymoron since "fair politics," but some scenes on that Jessica Simpson-Nick Lachey MTV show seem so staged, the two are practically reading off cue cards. ( "I'm not a . . . line. . . brat!") At least Saturday Night Live seems to have embraced some spontaneity, welcoming its first unabashed Mr. Thang (at least to my eyes) since the guy who did Nancy Reagan impressions. I love the name aloneFinesse Mitchell!
One name on invitations latelyMonoculturesounds like a sexually transmitted bacterium, but it actually refers to Lee Chappell's Sundays at Dorsia, which features a lit-up, elevated runway that's irresistible to drunks and extroverts. In between working that saucy strip recently, designer Richie Rich poignantly ran around the club with a Siegfried & Roy headline, wondering, "How does Siegfried & Richie sound?" (By the way, the manner in which the horrific incident is being spunas if the cat wasn't annoyed, he was just somehow trying to protect Roymay be the duo's greatest stunt of all.)
Another tragic heroine in the news, Maria Shriver, is starting to resemble a Georgia O'Keeffe cow skull, and I say that with deep concern. Has marriage to such an exacting Terminazi (who survived all the last-minute slimings mainly because they made Gray Davis look even worse) caused her to starve, not only for attention but for actual food? Would she not kick serious ass if empowered by some samurai swordsand Ginsu knives? (Interesting side note: Though his homeland of Austria now supports Arnold as a pol, it's had precious little regard for him as an entertainment icon for years, way preferring David Hasselhoff. I wonder how they feel about Jerry Lewis.)
Maybe Alps dwellers will like Pieces of April, but I found the Thanksgiving fantasy so precious and insubstantial it evaporated as I watched it. (Every bitch I said was in the script.) Writer-director Peter Hedges did make an interesting scene at the premiere, though. Before the movie, Hedges introduced the parents of all the stars ("If all you people hadn't had sex, we wouldn't have this film"), broke down sobbing when contemplating how generous his kids were "for letting me go make this movie and welcoming me home," and left us by cracking, "Whoever I forgot, you're my favorite person in the world." My pleasurenow let's split, Uma. I can't take this anymore!