Saturday, April 14, 2007

Grindhouse Good!!

I haven't gotten this excited about a movie since "Borat". As anyone who knows me, I am HIGHLY critical of most movies made these days. That's because I have seen so many movies in my life at this point: silents, action, drama, comedy, foreign, shorts, cartoons, documentaries, you name it, that I have become jaded that something's been done before ad nauseum. I cannot believe reviewers like Roger Ebert can consistently give films a "thumbs up" after the amount of films he's viewed, or it may be the fact that Ebert doesn't have any more discretionary taste or perhaps is even paid to give a more positive review for a bunch of so-so films.

I am not saying that "Grindhouse" is the best film ever made and even the concept is not original. Heck, they made "Movie/Movie" way back in 1978 where it was a double-feature genre parody/tribute. It just doesn't done with exploitation films.

The Robert Rodriguez movie ("planet Terror") in itself is reminiscent of Rodriguez and Tarantino's earlier "From Dusk Till Dawn" (also a great film). It's a typical zombie film but with the added elements of extreme gratuitous gore (but not as much as "Saw" or "Hostel") and strong elements of humor (like "Return of the Living Dead" or "Shaun of the Dead") My favorite scene *SPOILER* is where the owner of the BBQ is laying on the ground with his guts supposedly hanging out and it turns out that he just passed out with a bunch of sausage links with sauce on himself. *END OF SPOILER* For those disappointed with "Spy Kids 3-D", "Sharkboy and Lavagirl" and even "Sin City" will be happy with this superior feature, and if you like any of those, you'll love this even more!!

The trailers at the beginning and center of the two films are priceless and I won't spoil them here. I will say that one of them is directed by Rob Zombie, who is in a similar class to Rodriquez and Tarantino for this type of film. DON'T go to the bathroom during these trailers!! Really...DON'T! (There's a joke there, son.)

If you have to go, go during the opening credits of "Death Proof", Quentin Tarantino's film. There are no jokes here and you won't miss anything for about two minutes. There is an ironic punchline to this towards the end of the credits which *SPOILER* shows a girl walking along holding her groin area in a little bit of pain looking for a toilet. I laughed hysterically at this. It is similar to the scene in "Lawrence of Arabia" where Lawrence is crawling through the desert and ends up at an oasis right before Intermission! *END OF SPOILER*

Tarantino's film starts off slower and seems interminable compared to Rodriguez's film, but give it a chance, it really grows on you and show's you how GOOD a filmmaker Tarantino really is. He's not much of an actor (he appears briefly in both films), but his directing and song-selection is always top-notch. And, if you haven't seen "Pulp Fiction", "Kill Bill", Jackie Brown", and "Reservoir Dogs" by now, stop reading this and rent them all. It's basically a grisly car-chase film confidently attributed to "Vanishing Point" and starring the always excellent Kurt Russell and Rosario Dawson and others.

The main reason I think this movie is not doing so well is three-fold: 1) Unlike "Movie/Movie" this is truly a double feature complete with bogus trailers and no "true" intermission, so it clocks in at 191 minutes, which is a long time to sit if you want to digest every morsel of footage (which I HIGHLY recommend) and 2) I don't think most people "get it". Younger kids tend to go to the movies and most of them raised in this age of digital clarity and uncut features in first run movie houses don't remember the days of scratchy films with missing scenes and even having the film break or burn through! (someone even complained about these elements on IMDB!) And 3) exploitation films tend to not be made these days. There's not really a Roger Corman, Russ Meyer or William Castle-type out there. EVERYTHING is an A-picture from the biggest epic to the lowliest comedy. A Will Farrell film like "Blades of Glory" in traditional times would have been a B-picture, but not anymore...too bad...we need more movies like "Grindhouse", not made on big budgets, just plain fun...

PS There is also a book of the film filled with pictures and the original script and Rodriguez/Tarantino continued the quality by making it look like a well-read used book!! A must read!! Tell Lee to buy one for you!!

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