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2009.04.15

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Tom Russell

I have a beyond-bizarre mental block with regards to "Death Proof". In talking with friends and wife alike about the work of Tarantino, I'll say something like "he's never made a bad film", only to be reminded of the existence of "Death Proof" (and, for that matter, "Four Rooms").

While I can get away with dismissing/giving him a pass for "Four Rooms" (though, really, there's no reason why I should; what is it about omnibus films that make them so easy to declare non-canonical?), I can't do the same for "Death Proof"-- it's presence on a double-bill aside, it is obviously the man's fifth feature-film. And it stinks.

Curiously enough: I hate Rodriguez's work-- hated The Faculty, hated the El Mariachi trilogy, hated the Spy Kids trilogy, hated the From Dusk to Dawn trilogy (though, of course, he's only responsible for the first one). Rhythmically, stylistically, acting-wise, "fun"-wise: all of them lacking.

All that being said: I thought "Planet Terror" was wonderful. It worked as an action picture, it worked as a goof on that genre and our own time period (loved the bit with Bruce Willis and his discovery of bin Ladin), it worked as a collection of grindhouse grotesqueries (for example, Tarantino's melting doohickey). It was the first time I saw a Rodriguez picture and felt satisfied.

If someone had told me before watching the two films that I would love the Rodriguez and loathe the Tarantino, I would have thought them a bit meshugganah. But it's absolutely true.

I wonder if the drop-off in quality in Tarantino's half of "Grindhouse", like with "Four Rooms", has something to do with the omnibus nature of both projects-- a feeling that they're not as important as the "official" ouvere, that they don't require another rewrite. In the post you linked to above, you proposed that the two directors be given a very limited budget/crew and tight shooting schedule. While the end result might be more "grindhousey", I don't think it'd be better for Tarantino in particular; I think that he needs more time (the three years between "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown", the six between "Brown" and "Kill Bill") in order to rewrite his scripts, reign in his fetishes, transform his influences, and create quality work.

Noel Vera

I have the opposite opinion; I think Dusk Till Dawn is the only decent thing both Tarantino and Rodriguez ever did (I'm chalking up Jackie Brown's charms to Elmore Leonard, or at least Tarantino channeling Leonard), mainly because Tarantino's usual jokey script gets a jolt from Rodriguez's energetic (if undisciplined) camerawork and storytelling.

Death Proof is another high mark for Tarantino, I think. Doesn't mean I like it or think it's actually good, just think it's one of the best things he ever did (the way it expertly borrows from Sarafian, Hough, etc., etc.).

Noel Vera

I might add that one reason I'm so unimpressed with Tarantino's latest masterwork is because the grindhouse experience is still possible in Manila, and so much dingier, and stickier. Fermented duck eggs are a legitimate theater snack, sold at the concession stand, and once in a while I hear a cat meowing in the aisles. Sometimes he catches things, I'm not too interested in finding out what.

And our filmmakers do legitimate grindhouse fare--I'm not just talking Gerardo de Leon or Eddie Romero (who Tarantino might be first to admit are his superiors), but recent stuff by Elwood Perez, Celso Ad. Castillo, Erik Matti, Yam Laranas. Death Proof? Planet Terror? Tame, tame, tame.

Fernando

I have to agree with Filmbrain on Death Proof. I've lately found that I really don't enjoy Tarantino movies as much I did when I was fourteen or fifteen (except Jackie Brown) but DP was just about unbearable. I can't think of another film shot in Austin (or, at least partially) that is so joyless, although I am no expert on the subject, just a proud native Texan.

Also, in response to Noel Vera, add 'see a movie in Manila' to my list of things I need to do before I die. That sounds amazing.

MovieMan0283

Well, I guessed True Romance (which I haven't seen) rather than Death Proof (which I also haven't seen), so I do I get an extra bonus half-point or something for the Tarantino connection?

Also, for some reason, I though Death Proof was in black-and-white. Go figure.

geroyche

i know this isn't a dead serious competition... but did you realize the mpaa cert. number is legible in this frame, and that gave it away to anyone who cared enough ;)

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