Friday, April 06, 2007

Review: Grindhouse

A Dimension films release 2007

Directed by
Robert Rodriguez (segment "Planet Terror") (fake trailer segment "Machete")
Eli Roth (fake trailer segment "Thanksgiving")
Quentin Tarantino (segment "Death Proof")
Edgar Wright (fake trailer segment "Don't Scream")
Rob Zombie (fake trailer segment "Werewolf Women of the S.S.")

Writing credits:
Robert Rodriguez (segment "Planet Terror")
Quentin Tarantino (segment "Death Proof")

Two full length feature horror movies written by Quentin Tarantino & Robert Rodriguez put together as a two film feature. Including fake movie trailers in between both movies.

For a film that's billed as having "uncensored sexuality and untamed thrills", Grindhouse is pretty tame. Sure, the violence is splatter-ific and the girls are scantily clad, but outside that the films offer little in terms of sex or violence. In fact, the visual grain and 'missing reel' effects - added to make the films appear more like one of their 70s counterparts - always kick in strongest when the violence and sex seems to get too overt.

So what's the point? Grindhouse is more tongue-in-cheek homage than actual grind, and plays exactly like what it is - a big budget pretend to be bad movie. Evenly split between Rodriguez's 'Planet Terror' and Tarantino's 'Death Proof', it thankfully doesn't suffer from a lack of consistent tone (a la Four Rooms). However both directors styles are clear in their approach the the grind film, with Rodriguez going for balls-out action and gore and Tarantino taking the slow route. Neither film is perfect, but I definitely preferred Rodriguez's (against most popular critical reception). Mostly because it's at least fun. Rodriguez is the perfect director for these kind of movies; content to tinker with special effects and concocting crazy death sequences, he leaves just enough room for the story be almost convincing (albiet incredibly silly).

Tarantino, on the other hand, bogs down 'Death Proof' with enough bad dialogue to kill everything fun about it. While it's refreshing to hear women speak frankly and with cuss words, one can't help but feel Tarantino's hand magically placing each syllable into his actors mouths. The dialogue is so forced and utterly meaningless that it degrades Kurt Russell's stellar performance and Tarantino's steady camera work, which is actually quite impressive.

It all brings me back to the most frustrating point of Tarantino's work - the man is talented, and could be making great films, if he would just quit wasting his time on this trash. The Rodriguezs and the Eli Roths have it covered, QT, let them handle it. We all know you can write dialogue out your ass, but make it mean something next time.

Grindhouse isn't the worst way to spend three hours - it's bloody and fun, for the most part. But it isn't a step forward for either filmmaker; in fact, it's a step back. It doesn't push the boundaries of good taste, either; you can't find anything in the film that your average videogame doesn't feature.

So, what's the point?

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