Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Grindhouse Report (in which I'm too lazy to italicize anything)

I couldn't care less about many of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's obsessions (e.g. the careers of B-movie veterans like Michael Biehn, Jeff Fahey and Danny Trejo), and until now I've flat-out hated every Rodriguez movie I've seen, with the exception of certain aspects of Sin City (and a case can be made that major credit for that lies elsewhere). However, I found the bulk of Grindhouse to be entertaining anyway, and Planet Terror's (Rodriguez's section) over-the-top, over-the-moon onslaught can probably be appreciated either as genre parody or tribute. Not so with Tarantino's film, Death Proof; I think they released this at Easter because Tarantino inflicts Christ-like suffering on bored audiences waiting for the payoff.

Give Rodriguez credit for making a film that turns his weaknesses (storytelling, trashiness, allegedly breaking up his marriage to bang Rose McGowan) into strengths. There probably wasn't any need for ANOTHER zombie movie, but the combination of McGowan eye candy, "missing reels," ridiculous violence/explosions and Texas freakiness made me laugh out loud probably more than I did at Shaun of the Dead. So if that's what you're looking for, it delivers.

But I wouldn't have bothered w/ Planet Terror at all if it weren't for the Tarantino double feature. I don't know if there's anyone whose movies I have enjoyed, or at least found interesting, against greater odds. About 70% of Death Proof is SO! FUCKING! BORING though! Dear GOD! If you thought listening to David Carradine in Kill Bill was tedious, get ready! Most of this film consists of a bunch of "tough chicks" sitting around bullshitting while we wait for Kurt Russell (good here, especially at the end) to do something. Now I for one would be a happy moviegoer if more films ditched their usual routine plot machinations to focus on fascinating conversations and odd tangents; Plus, making a second film as over the top as Planet Terror would've been just as tedious. But Tarantino seems to be locked in a contest with Kevin Smith to see who can write the most interminable, artificial dialogue imaginable. I found Uma Thurman and Maria de Medeiros engaging to listen to in Pulp Fiction, and I liked Pam Grier in Jackie Brown, but the women in this film don't resemble anyone you or I know (women, I'm... uh, looking at you here). They reek of the seedy confines of Tarantino's head and come solely adorned with his obsessions. Yuck. Plus, there's more of his awkward, allegedly good-natured racial banter on display. In a way Death Proof IS an interesting oddity; it could never stand on its own as a feature release but it contains one well-executed middle sequence; a crazy, extended car chase ending; and one of the best "The End" title cards I've ever seen. None of that redeems the preceeding tedium though.

Finally, the fake trailers at the beginning and "intermission" are easily the highlight of this thing; similar to how the amusing trailers to those old exploitation films are usually more entertaining than the features themselves. Maybe 2-3 minutes is the ideal length for these kinds of films.


BayonneMike said...

Damn you, Chris, you've made "Death Proof" sound so bad, that as an official Tarantino-hater I will now be forced to see it! Also, have you caught any of his recent talk show appearances? Is it just me, or is something weird going on with his face? He appears more waxlike to me.

Chris said...

Yeah, he's not looking too good. Wait 'til you see him "acting" in both films. I think he especially needs to stay out of Austin, where Death Proof is set. He did an episode of "Iconoclasts" there w/ Fiona Apple on the Sundance Channel and they both looked sweaty and gross the entire time.

The only other good thing about Death Proof is the soundtrack. The jukebox playing throughout the first 30 minutes basically steals the movie.

I love you in the face said...

I'm not even going to bother seeing it. Seriously after Kill Bill 2's lovesnore to Uma Thurman, I have decided to never again deal with Quentin's word vomit. I know it's unpopular to not think of him as a a cultural hero/ film director (Fiona's little "Yay Quentin!" commentary had me wondering if they were both coming down off a particularly uncomfortable cocaine, jolt cola and cybersex high - it was totally the sweaty-face factor) and I have enjoyed some of his films. However, I resent him and his supposed greatness. He's a video store nerd who happened to make it big. How long am I supposed to ride that wave of 'kinda' cool when his movies are now an ode to his own sex drive. It's dull, comic book nerddom that has been done and done better.