Tuesday, September 13, 2005

So nearly 4 months after it aired, I finally got around to watching a tape of last season's finale of CSI directed by Quentin Tarantino, "Grave Dangers." (He was nominated for an Emmy, but didn't win.) It was my first--and most likely last--time watching the show. I found it interesting the way the double-episode (story credited to Tarantino, though not the script, written by three CSI writers) played like a variation on Tarantino's Kill Bill. Both stories feature a hero being buried alive in a coffin with the means to commit suicide (as in Kill Bill V.2). Here, the twist is that there's a web camera in the coffin, and the hero's fellow CS investigators are made to watch him suffer, live, while they try to crack the mystery and rescue him. Very different from Uma Thurman's/The Bride's self-reliance!

There were other interesting similarities in the episode. There was a scene, obviously written by the CSI staff, that played as an homage to Tarantino's pop culture obsession (like the famous French Big Mac dialogue from Pulp Fiction): two investigators sit playing a Dukes of Hazard board game. Quite lame dialogue, really. More interestingly, and more likely a directorial choice, an intensely gruesome yet comic sequence, in which the hero dreams he is one of CSI's cadavers being autopsied, is shot in black and white, removing the red color from the torrents of blood, just as Tarantino famously did for a sequence in the U.S. release of Kill Bill V.2.

Most interesting to me was the character of the female prisoner, daughter of the killer, who refused to help the cops because they'd caught her and now she was suffering rape in prison. She couldn't sympathize. In the most mature gesture of the story, the hero, finally rescued (of course!) after enduring hell, visits her to absolve her of the guilt she showed no signs of feeling. In tears, he advises her to leave "it" behind when she finishes her sentence. One survivor of trauma to another.

Tarantino isn't exactly what you want to call a mature filmmaker, but I've been of the opinion that it wasn't until Jackie Brown and Kill Bill--and their female characters--that he found his soul. This episode, to which Tarantino has downplayed his creative contributions in interviews, gives more evidence of that theme in his work.

The director has also mentioned a desire to do more t.v. work.

Song: "Jumpers" by Sleater-Kinney


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