Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10


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Monday, April 09, 2007

Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) and some thoughts on the box-office debacle




As I said in my Planet Terror review, I liked Death Proof less than PT, but that does not mean too much. Tarantino's trademarks are all over the movie: foot fetishes, Big Kahuna Burger, even a remarkably Reservoir Dogs-ian conversation around a diner table. It's a good thing, too, because all these things fit perfectly within the framework of an exploitation film. As a "grindhouse" movie, Death Proof is a better example, with its hot girls and fast cars. The movie is in two distinct parts, both starring Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike: the first, about Jungle Julia and her friends, and the second, starring Kill Bill stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself and featuring Rosario Dawson and two other ladies as her friends. Both groups of women are, obviously, remarkably foxy and verbose, and often pretty clever. Both are terrorized by Stuntman Mike, with varying results. The big difference in the two stories is between the passivity of the first group of women versus the aggression of the second, making the first half of the movie (up until the last 45 minutes, actually) kind of...boring.

For me, things didn't get going until Zoe and her friends decide to take the badass white car out for a test drive. Tarantino is brilliant in his decision to have them talk about playing "ship's mast" for almost 15-20 minutes before revealing what it actually was. What a buildup! What a payoff, as well. The last 20-30 minutes of Death Proof is what the phrase "edge of your seat" was made for, so incredibly tense and then gratifying. For those final few minutes, I can even forgive the drawn-out, aforementioned Reservoir Dogs throwback scene, even though Tarantino's expository dialogue sounds forced at times coming out of these women's mouths. Tarantino can't write women? Fair enough, but he sure can write a car chase. And that's really what mattered here.

8.5/10


My favorite part of the entire Grindhouse experience, however, was Eli Roth's faux trailer for "Thanksgiving," seen below.





Hilarious, disgusting, and utterly 80s. Roth hit the nail on the head with this one, and gave me the definite feeling that he should actually make Thanksgiving, as well as reinforcing my belief that Roth is one of the, if not the, best horror director working today. Totally whet my appetite for Hostel II, if it could have been any more.


But the biggest Grindhouse story is how it got trampled at the Easter weekend box office. Like many others, I was both surprised and disappointed, but I can't say that I was as surprised reading the rumor that the Weinsteins might break up the films and rerelease them, soon. Obviously the problem wasn't with the poor marketing, or the release on Easter weekend, but because you had to pay $8 for two movies. Sarcasm, of course, but that's a quick fix that only addresses part of the problem. Why would people go see an R-rated gore fest on the holiest of weekends? Sure, I did, but I doubt I'm the typical American moviegoer. This is definitely a niche picture, but I think a lot more could have been done, and a lot better, by the Weinstein Company in the marketing department. The movie was advertised on the strength of director names and the novelty of it all, when the plots should have been better featured. I'm planning on going to see Grindhouse again in the theater this week, but I'm not sure I would do the same thing for the single movies. It seems like pure greed on the Weinstein Co's part. Just take it on the chin, guys: you did a bad job marketing this and it was kind of a failure. That doesn't mean it's not a great movie, or not a great idea. Just not on Easter.

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Comments on "Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007) and some thoughts on the box-office debacle"

 

Blogger Adam said ... (5:29 PM) : 

Vanessa Ferlito is too fucking hot

 

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