Here we have the second half of 'Grindhouse', directed by Quentin Tarantino. I saw it once before, have since generally considered it Tarantino's poorest work since then. The catch is, there's supposed to be a "badness" to 'Grindhouse', so in some respects, I get it. But cards on the table, I just thought it dragged - that is until that climactic car chase, which I will definitely give to the movie for keeping me on the edge of my seat for those last 20 minutes or so.
Up until that point, our plot (which I'm poorly going to explain now due to my boredom) basically involves a stuntman by the name of Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) who meets a handful of women in a bar, Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito), Shanna (Jordan Ladd), radio DJ "Jungle" Julia Lucai (Sydney Tamiia Poitier), Lanna (Monica Staggs) and the innocent Pam (Rose McGowan). Eventually, Mike carries out his serial killer tactics on them with his 1970 Chevy Nova that happens to be, as the title suggests, "Death Proof" to the driver - not so death proof to whoever happens to be a passenger. Do these ladies survive? I'll never tell.
Months later, however, a new handful of women enter Mike's territory; hair and makeup artist Abernathy (Rosario Dawson), stuntwoman Kim (Tracie Thoms), Lee, the actress (Mary Elizabeth-Winstead) and eventually, real-life stuntwoman as herself, Zoë Bell. Long story short, Mike may very well meet his match with these ladies, and their stunt driving situation is by far the better half of this movie. The first half I find is still just talk and more talk that doesn't seem to really go anywhere. In a movie like this, although the action is great when it is on screen, I hardly feel like there's enough of it. I guess I hoped for more balls to the wall action as opposed to a lot of conversation.
Having said that, I'm not fool. Tarantino absolutely has a gift for dialogue. If you're into his directorial style mainly because he's so good at writing dialogue, you might feel better about this movie than I do. Personally, my Tarantino fandom comes a little more from his dark sense of humour. Whatever it is he works on, he hasn't lost his fondness for the fun of movie-making, and he's one of the only directors out there who can have a massive cult following while being Oscar bait at the same time. 'Death Proof' most definitely lands more in his cult category though, and I think you just have to be the right kind of fan to really like this one.
Personally speaking, for me, the best part of this involved the preceding trailers. I got such a good laugh from all of them, and really wish they could become real movies as well. Among them are Rob Zombie's 'Werewolf Women of the SS', Edgar Wright's 'Don't' and Eli Roth's 'Thanksgiving'. This adds a whole level of fun to everything, as they are each just fun fake trailers these guys made up to contribute to the 'Grindhouse' project. So while I don't hate 'Death Proof' and consider certain elements that save it (namely the trailers and the climax), I still think Tarantino just has much better films out there to choose from.
Again, it's all a matter of taste. This could be considered a favourite by many just because it highlights Tarantino by showing off things like dialogue skills, action, style, his cameo and a whole bunch of bare feet. I can certainly give this a solid pass based on certain aspects of it, and maybe it's simply not so much for me but for the hardcore fans. I'm fairly basic when it comes to Tarantino as my fave will always and forever be 'Pulp Fiction', and to me, this doesn't really come close in quality. But for all I know, this could very well be the best choice for highlighting his skill set. One thing I can at least admit to here is that, despite still considering it as Tarantino's weakest film, I did manage to get more out of it the second time around. Who knows, with time, maybe it can grow on me.
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