The House Next Door provides this fascinating reading of the Kill Bill movies as a Zen allegory by Michael K. Crowley. I rewatched the films yesterday, and his theory holds up pretty well, and makes me appreciate Vol. 2 more than I ever have before. I’ve always defended these films on pure love of cinema grounds, arguing that Tarantino’s movies are as pure an expression of cinephilia as anything in film. But it’s nice to think that there might be some larger purpose to them as well.
The one question I’d have, is that Crowley leaves out the one scene that has always bothered me in Vol. 2, Beatrix’s meeting with the aged pimp Esteban. It doesn’t appear to have anything to do with her Zen quest, though it might play a part in a feminist reading of the film, as another example of an evil male/father figure for The Bride to defeat along with Bill, Buck and arguably Pai Mei (Hattori Hanzo being the only unambiguously positive male figure in the films). But Beatrix doesn’t actually do anything to stop Esteban’s cruelty to women. Either way, the scene really kills the film’s momentum leading up to the final confrontation with Bill. I really don’t know what purpose it’s supposed to serve.