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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Grindhouse Comments

People who know me know that I am a fan of director Quentin Tarantino. We can argue about that later, if you like.

So it was almost a necessity that I go see the big Q's latest cinematic discharge: Grindhouse. I have strongly mixed feelings about this project, an ambitious double feature with Tarantino chum, fellow director, Robert Rodriguez.

Grindhouse is really two completely separate movies played back to back with a brief intermission filled with phony trailers. The first half of the double was Planet Terror, a zombie pic directed by R. Rodriguez. I hated it.

I don't mind horror or zombies in themselves. Some of my favorite movies are horror pictures and a couple of them feature zombies. But this one just took gross to a whole new level, a level I -for one- simply did not need. There was just nothing funny or cool about it to outweigh the yuck.

But the second half of the double feature was completely different, the one from Quentin. It was called Death Proof and is your basic pyscho-killer car caper. This movie was a blast of fun. Yes, it does have moments of profanity and titillation, but these are small and peripheral. There is also violence; one scene in particular was excruciating and literally knocked the breath out of me just to watch it. But mostly, it is a red-blooded car chase that sent my adrenaline to the moon. I have never spontaneously blurted, "WHOOAAA!!!!" out loud in a theater before. But I did this time.

I've tried to like Rodriguez films in the past, but have usually been unhappy. Desperado (1995) with Antonio Banderas was the only one of his projects I could bear to watch again. Sin City was OK, but the best parts of that were the story, dialog and visual style which came from Frank Miller. That and a killer cast. I'm not sure how much to credit Rodriguez since the credits list Tarantino as an assistant director. I'm inclined to think that what's good about Sin City came from Miller and the big Q.

Quentin (if you are reading this blog), re-release Death Proof as a single feature. Drop the Rodriguez disgrace. It's pulling you down. Like all of Tarantino's films, Death Proof needs to be watched over and over again (just like certain episodes of Sponge Bob). Everything Q does is a cult film. So if he won't cut himself free of the lousy zombie bomb, I'll have to buy my next Grindhouse ticket, go eat a burger and come back 90 minutes into it.

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1 comment:

Darrell said...

I've read that the studio is about to re-release both films on their own since they've done so poorly as a double feature. I think that's probably a good thing since they're such totally different films. Planet Terror celebrates all that's bad about drive-in movies and Death Proof is QT's attempt to actually make a good film in the drive-in tradition. I agree, Death Proof is the better of the two films by a mile, although after the hyperactive carnage of Planet Terror, it was hard to switch gears and sit and enjoy a dialogue-heavy movie. I'd have liked it better on it's own and look forward to the eventual, unavoidable "director's cut" on DVD. I have to say, though, that my favorite thing about Death Proof was that it seemed to be an expose on bullies: stand up to them and they turn into sniveling crybabies!

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