Put your hands up if you like Quentin Tarantino, no seriously how many of you actually like his films, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction? they were classics, sharply written, well directed and very hip and smart, even Jackie Brown, Which was a mature sort of romantic comedy when you really watch it properly, so after three pretty amazing films, why has the director started to make stylish crap. Kill Bill which is an entertaining film, is when you think about it actually quite rubbish, The Dialogue seems forced and stilted, the action is actually handled very well but apart from David Carradine and Lucy Liu the acting isn't great but like i said it's an entertaining film, im not going to scrutinize Inglourious Basterds because i think it's his most accomplished film so far, but i will tackle his part of the whole Grindhouse experiment, 2007s DEATH PROOF.
For this review i've decided to write as though i was Tarantino writing a script...
//////////WARNING SPOILERS AFTER JUMP and some bad language\\\\\\\\\\\
Damn this film is annoying, it essentially has zero plot, and has a load of hot women talking absolute ass about pointless crap. But the film has something about it, something that makes it actually pretty cool, no it's not the cars or the chicks and it's definitely not the dialogue, i just can't put my finger on it.
The whole point of exploitation is to take something and exploit it, which QT does to degree, he's using pretty strong women (not as in they could lift a car strong) who are used as sex objects and also used as a catalyst for The Killer's crazed attacks, the strangest thing about DEATH PROOF is that it seems like two completely different films, the first is a scratchy fucked up looking 70s homage and the second loses the whole scratchy fucked up look and is shot as a normal film, there is absolutely no explanation for this, one theory is that it's supposed to show the reel change to a better print, which i reckon is bollocks. Below is the plot details for the first half and second half...
DEATH PROOF Part 1Austin texas, girls on a night out, drinking tequila's, smoking weed, hanging out in QT's bar and being chatted up by Eli Roth. Kurt Russell turns up, gets a lapdance, offers to drive Rose McGowen home in his Car, which is a 1970 Chevy Nova with a Skull and two lightening bolts. Russell Plays stuntman Mike and he has a huge scar on his face. As soon as McGowen gets in the car, she's dead, then he follows the girls from the bar and kills them too....45 minutes in we cut to....
DEATH PROOF Part 2
14 months later, a new group of girls, all movie bizz people are talking utter ass about utter ass, they include an airhead actress, a make up artist and two stunt women, one played buy real life stunt woman Zoe Bell, so after 15-20 mins of ass chat, Zoe Bell decides that as she is in America she wants to drive a Muscle Car and low and Behold, someone is selling a 1970 Dodge Challenger with a white paint job, the exact car from the film Vanishing Point. What a Co-incidence, it's also referenced about 100 billion times. So they Go and persuade some dude to let them take it for a test drive by them selves. On the road they decide to do a stunt, Ships Mast. Unbeknown to them Stuntman Mike has been tailing them and what follows is a 22 minute car chase ending with the girls beating the living shit out of Kurt Russell....
See basically no actual plot and the way it cuts from part uno to part deux is like finishing an episode of a TV show and going straight onto another, but only having the connection of stunt man mike to make the transition. It also seems as though the first half was directed for grind house then the second half was directed for something completely different.
One thing QT gets right every time is the casting, from Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink to Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine, and Death Proof is no exception, The cast is pretty fucking good.
Part 1 Cast...
Part 1 has a group of, well B actresses like Venessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd and Sydney Poitier, throw in Rose McGowen, Eli Roth and Omar Doom (inglourious Basterds) and QT himself, then get the ultra Coolness of motherfucking Snake Pliskin To enter the bar an you have a pretty solid cast for the first half. All are pretty good and seem to be having fun saying QT's ass speak.
Mid point of the film Cast.
The only part of the film to link Death Proof to Planet Terror has Michael Parks, his son James Parks and Marley Shelton as the characters they play in the companion piece film, except the Parks' have played the characters in Kill Bill and From Dusk Till Dawn.
Part 2 Cast...
The cast for part two has some more established actors in it, mainly Rosario Dawson and May-Elizabeth Winstead (Die Hard 4.0). They're Joined by Tracie Thoms and Zoe Bell. Bell was Uma Thurman's stunt Double in Kill Bill. Again They're Joined by mother fucking Snake Pliskin.
QT tries something different this time around, his first go at action directing was Kill Bill and he succeeded in that, this time he's followed in the footsteps of directors such as Peter Yates (Bullitt), George Miller (Mad Max) and Richard C. Sarafian (Vanishing Point '71) for the films climactic 20 minute car chase, and it's as though he's succeeded in making one of the greatest screen chases ever with a battle between the white 1970 Dodge Challenger and Stuntman Mike's second car of the film a 1969 Dodge Charger and my god what a fucking car chase it is, all done practical, no CGI and QT keeps the camera moving to get the effect of how fast the cars are traveling, there's also no choppy editing that most movies these days have where it's near impossible to actually see the chase.
One scene that is a pretty obvious reference to Reservoir Dogs is the breakfast scene between our part two girls, but where as the cast of Dogs had something good to listen to like Pink's explanation about like a virgin being a metaphor for a big dick, these girls talk about someone falling in a ditch, but the reference comes from the movement of the camera as it circles around the table in one continuous take very much like the breakfast scene from dogs.
On paper the script must have sounded like a winner, but to the casual viewer it's as though tarantino went into a coffee shop and secretly recorded some women talking and then transcribed it and thought it sounded good.....WRONG!!!!, it sounded stupid, there was no bite to it, and there was too much of it, even though we're used to his films containing alot of dialogue, it had something to do with the plot or a conversation is referenced later in the film such as Vincent and Jules Talking about Tony RockyHorror's foot massage which is brought up later when Vincent is out with Mia in Pulp Fiction, there is none of this in Death Proof, just random talk about uninteresting nonsense. Its like he sat down and went i want to do a car chase, then realized that he needed to make the film feature lenght and struggled to come up with a coherent story.
Kurt Russell is fucking off the Chain in this film, not since Big Trouble in Little china has Russell been this bad ass in a film and without him the film would have died an even worse death, Tarantino owes alot to Russell who elevates the film to a level of entertainment. with Mickey Rourke originally cast as mike, the film would have suffered, Rourke is a great actor but Russell is a better actor. He is what makes the film so cool, i have managed to my finger on it. He goes from being an evil asshole to being a sniveling pussy by the end when he takes on the wrong people. Death Proof would be nothing with out Russell and Tarantino knows this....
Even though ive pretty much called the film a steaming pile of shit, like i said in the opening statement it is strangely enjoyable, it's definately Tarantino's worst film but he then made Inglourious Basterds which i think is his best film so he's forgiven for Death Proof, same as Spielberg is forgiven for 1941 and Always, because he made Schindler's list, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan. I just hope he continues on the path he's on now and doesn't keep going back to his 'obsession' with grindhouse cinema and makes bigger even better pictures. Death Proof is not the best film ever made but it's definitely not Lars Von Trier's Antichrist, that is the worst film ever made...