Monday, April 16, 2007

Grindhouse: Bringing It

I finally saw "Grindhouse" last night.

Two things:
  1. It's too long to have no intermission.
  2. If the studio goes along with it's plans to re-release it as two separate films, they'll ruin the whole experience.
There is some criticism that it tries to be over-the-top in a movie culture where so much of what we see is over-the-top and, thus, "Grindhouse" is merely more of the same. I disagree with this. I don't think that "Grindhouse" is out to shock anyone; it only wants to bring back the look and feel of the exploitation films that its directors loved so much. Those movies didn't have the budgets for big stars, so they just brought out the cars, guns, babes and zombies. And they brought them big time.

Tarantino and Rodriguez did a great job, not necessarily in making two great films, but in showing us their love of a certain film era. Complete with deep scratches and lines across the screen and a hilariously (or frustratingly) timed "Missing reel" here and there, we are seeing antiquated cinema.

Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" falters (in my opinion) in being so true to that tribute that why we love him as a director today doesn't really shine through. It really could simply be a movie made a generation or two before the likes of "Desperado" or "Spy Kids." You could almost picture the infamous MST3K silhouettes at the foot of the screen. It's gory and scary enough, but once the action got underway, I found myself getting a bit bored. And I had a whole other movie to make my way through after this one. I was getting skeptical. In the end, "Planet Terror" was fun and cool, and I'm wondering if anyone else thought that its ending mirrored the ending to "True Romance" or if it was just me.

The faux trailers between the features? Almost worth the price of admission alone. Everyone's talking about Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women of the S.S.," but the trailers for "Thanksgiving" and "Don't" were the extreme guilty pleasures of the evening.

The second in the "Grindhouse" double feature was Tarantino's "Death Proof." Classic Tarantino, at least the first half or so. The opening shot is of a young, hot beauty walking from her car to her house. She's hurrying along and holding herself as she does. This girl really has to pee. In a subsequent scene with her girlfriends, someone wonders who among them has some pot. "Who's holding?," she asks. It didn't occur to me until a few hours later that this is probably Tarantino messing with an audience as they enter into the second half of a three hour movie experience, likely with a big cup of soda at their sides. Sure enough, I had my own personal struggle to make it the last ten minutes or so without running to the bathroom.

Anyway, the Tarantino style is all over this. Long, loving shots of legs and feet, and the beautiful rhythm to the dialogue among these females is the art itself. The girls sit at a round table talking shit and the camera slowly moves around behind them, studying them as they speak, ala "Reservoir Dogs." Music is huge here. Someone enters a coin into a jukebox and we watch the whole process of the record being selected by the machine's arm; we see the 45 placed onto the turntable and we follow that Stax/Volt label as it spins, trying to read the title as the needle hits its mark. And it sounds loud and cool.

Back to the rhythm of the dialogue: I close my eyes and I can hear Uma Thurman in almost every scene. The flow the words and that mellifluous voice speaking them puts me into the clouds.

"Death Proof" is that classic tough-broads-in-cars movie from the '70s. Homicidal maniac and movie stunt-man (Kurt Russell) makes mince meat of girls with his "death proof" car. Then has the rotten luck to mess with the wrong damn girls. And the action is on. Still not much of a movie on its own, but it really sings and moves. Check out its soundtrack. I've been grooving on it all morning. "Staggolee" baby!


Muffy said...

THe double feature aspect of Grindhouse is what was appealing.

Planet Terror was just scary as hell but I loved it. Rose McGowan is just BEAUTIFUL.

I'm not very familiar with Robert Rodrigeuz's style but watching the 2nd feature really took me back to Reservoir Dogs and it made me smile.

The ending made me smile even more. Those are the kinds of characters I'd love to play if I were an actor - badass, smart-alecy gearhead girls.

I can't believe (or can I) people are kicking up a fuss for being too stupid to realize they had to stay for another movie after the first one ended.

chez béz said...

Muffy: People were pissed to discover that it was a double feature? I had no idea. How does someone not know that going in? It definitely stressed my bladder a bit, but I was psyched about the "event" aspect of it all.

I'm with ya on Rose. So beautiful. Not much sex in their films, but a whole lotta sexy.