(2007) dir. Quentin Tarantino
viewed: 04/11/07 at CinéArts @ Empire Theater, SF, CA
The second half of the Grindhouse double feature is Quentin Tarantino’s homage to car race road movies, which is actually a pretty obscure subgenre. Whereas Robert Rodriguez seemed to totally manage to capture the spirit and the style of the genre, Tarantino likes to insert a great deal of himself into the film, modernizing and post-modernizing the film. Which is fine. In concept.
Tarantino’s worst qualities come out in Death Proof and his qualities are clear, but highly limited within the context of the obnoxious dialogue and cultural references. The soundtrack is typically totally excellent, capturing all kinds of great music, but also drawing so much attention to it. The bar that the first group of girls hangs out in features a magical jukebox that plays 45’s of all sorts of cool old music that everyone seems intimately familiar with, but are not necessarily all that well-known to the general public, I would bet. The taqueria that they hang out in is postered with lots of cool old movie posters. Everyone has great knowledge of trivial, hip things and they all talk exactly alike.
The music is great though.
And some of the action sequences are pretty hot.
But the bulk of the film is banter and dialogue between two groups of four young, attractive women. They all could switch dialogue roles and essentially be the same people. You could swap out group one for group two and they would be the same. That is except for Zoe Bell, a stunt-woman who plays a stunt-woman, but is able to do her own stunts, which makes for some nice action filming. But that said, her biggest stunt is totally stupid and is so put on that it doesn’t have any tension. And she’s unsurprisingly not much of an actress.
The only actor who gets his due is Kurt Russell, who plays the psychotic menace of Stuntman Mike. He actually has the best lines, the most believable character motivation, and the only one who actually seems like he’s in a real movie.
This is easily the worst film that Tarantino has made. The pretension of his self-conscious, highly cultural referencing dialogue, and the fact that he has to “act” in both of these films just underscores the largest criticisms of the man, the writer, director, actor, fool. His acting is actually worse than everything else that he does. He is obnoxiousness personified and is a terrible character actor. He is totally out-shined by Rodriguez in this double feature presentation. Maybe he should just run a movie theater, showing all the cool movies he knows about and DJ somehow to continue to compile the music that he has good appreciation for.
Or maybe he’ll get his groove back. He certainly needs to.