measure your movie value by time spent watching, then Grindhouse
is certainly the best bang for your buck. Clocking in at just
over three hours, this "double-feature" hearkens back to the
days when crap movies were still considered crap and we liked
'em anyway. It's a labor of love, and when it's content to
be just that, Grindhouse provides a lot of fun.
involved seems to be having fun, and in a way that doesn't
shut out the audience. From the first pulse-pounding trailer
for the disappointingly non-existent Machete, Grindhouse
has us. Robert Rodriguez directs this as well as the first
feature, Planet Terror, and both pieces weave in and
out of his little Rodriguez-verse, referencing other works
from Troublemaker Studios (Danny Trejo played Machete in the
three Spy Kids movies, too, though as a much more endearing
character than the trailer indicates here).
also does the best job of capturing the spirit of the project,
filling Planet Terror with weird low-budget touches
and letting the film look heavily stressed, burned and scratched.
Partner Quentin Tarantino starts Death Proof that way,
but loves his imagery too much to keep that beat-up look long.
a zombie film, Planet Terror features over the top
performances, weird weaponry and hot women in peril. It also
makes little expositional sense, coasting on flair and strangeness.
Ironically, this makes for one of Rodriguez' more focused
efforts. Relieved of the need to tell a tight story by the
conceit of the project, his script binds all the subplots
together neatly anyway; he even throws in awkward political
commentary, and it fits.
both directors may confuse audiences is in that modern commentary.
Both features (and the trailers) all look from the seventies,
but constantly reference today's culture. It may be that Texans
look and feel thirty years behind Californians, but somehow
that seems doubtful.
acknowledges the time gap a bit with his villainous Stuntman
Mike (Kurt Russell). Once a top double in television (or at
least claiming to have been), Mike brags to people who are
too young to remember his work in shows like Vegas
and High Chapparal. (Man, what Tarantino could have
done for Bob Urich if he were still alive...) Still oozing
charm, Mike inexplicably likes to kill young women In car
unpleasant plot worthy of a dollar house, Death Proof
has trouble rolling because Tarantino likes the sound of his
dialogue way too much. For the screenwriter, it's all about
the rap, and to be fair, he does write snappy dialogue. But
he also has directed his actresses, including Rosario Dawson
and Sydney Poitier (Sidney's daughter) to be a bit stiff,
as if they were C-list actors barely off the streets. The
end results in boring conversations about the requisite nothing
really important anyway.
Tarantino gives things over to his plot, they do really hop,
though he also counts on not having to explain very much -
or at least being not willing to explain. He, too, borrows
characters and actors from Planet Terror, which is
a little disconcerting, especially as they create a subplot
he never gets around to resolving. Then again, perhaps a lot
of real grindhouse movies have that sloppy a structure.
takes a risk in casting top stuntwoman Zoe Bell as herself.
She's a decent actress and a hell of a risk taker, and it's
obvious why Tarantino likes her. But it's strange to see her
just being herself surrounded by overtly fictional characters.
It's hard to know what level of reality to apply.
when the rules are clear, you can just sit back and enjoy.
The trailers in between are hilarious, with Eli Roth's disgusting
Thanksgiving come-on hitting home well. To quote Lon
Lopez, "He did not just go there, did he?"
the exception of Machete, the trailers don't seem like
something we'd want to see turned into full-length films,
but the jokes work. There's really nowhere to go with She
Wolves of the S.S. anyway. To Rob Zombie's credit, though,
he does manage to draw more than one joke out of the concept.
may not be the true heir to a lost time; the direct to video
market has been feeding the junk film junkies for years. But
this collaboration does show respect for all of its parts,
and makes a pretty good distraction. The two ten-year-olds
who snuck in and sat nearby claim to have loved it.