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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

September 24, 2007
RATING: 7/10
Grindhouse, the joint effort released earlier this year from B-movie auteurs Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, didn't appeal to audiences upon its release nearly as much as Weinstein Company head-honchos Bob and Harvey had hoped. The double-feature (read Imran Siddiquee's LAS feature on the film) was supposed to evoke the Roger Corman halcyon days of exploitation and drive-in fare, and it did, but despite a generally positive critical reception, in terms of ticket sales Grindhouse failed to deliver at the box office. Perhaps , as many claim, the film's underwhelming financial haul was due to Rodriguez's contribution, the crazed zombie-ridden Planet Terror. Sure, the gore and intentionally cheesy lines were good for a few laughs, but few consider Rodriguez's script enough to sustain an audience's attention for 90 minutes. As a result Tarantino's Death Proof no doubt suffered by running after Planet Terror. Tarantino's is indeed the better film of the two, although not the semi-high art that some have touted it to be. The film was shown on its own at Cannes Film Festival, eliciting both cheers and hissing from the tastemakers in attendance, and that uncut, unrated version is now available on DVD.



First, a bit about the plot, for those unfamiliar: two groups of girls are terrorized by Stuntman Mike (played by Kurt Russell), whose car is both an instrument of titillating pleasure and a lethal weapon. And that about sums it up. For those who are familiar, there are really only two scenes on the DVD which did not make the big screen cut, and neither makes or breaks the established atmosphere or plot. In the first half, a sexy lap dance administered by actress Vanessa Ferlito, noticeably omitted in the original theatrical version, is restored. In the second half, a black-and-white scene outside a convenience store in which Russell tickles Rosario Dawson's feet is included.

Just as it did in the theatrical release, Tarantino's trademark banter sounds slightly forced coming from the mouths of the actresses cast, but Death Proof doesn't hinge on dialogue as much as Tarantino's early work. Like Kill Bill before it, Death Proof is about the action, which is cleverly withheld until key moments in both sections of the film. The first half's denouement showcases a shocking demise for the four young ladies at the hands of Stuntman Mike, who does them in by crashing his car head-on into their vehicle. Tarantino gets all Rashomon here, showing the gruesome results on each woman in succession, but he does it stylishly, tightly, and quickly. Those gory details aside, it is the second half's action that is the real meat, a 20-minute car chase, full of enjoyably nail-biting schlock and some truly amazing stunt work, that closes the film.



If Tarantino's uncut version isn't enough, a second disc of bonus material provides some behind-the-scenes looks at the film's creation and construction. A featurerette called "Stunts on Wheels" is the best of the bunch, showing the work of the stuntmen and women who helped create Death Proof's "French Connection-style" action - no computer generated imagery, just real stunt driving and elaborately planned crashes. The rest of the bonus material focuses on the actresses and actors of the film, along with a brief piece about editor Sally Menke.

Death Proof isn't among Tarantino's best work, for sure, but it stands stronger on its own than when paired with Planet Terror in Grindhouse. Having proven less than amazing, perhaps it would be best to consider Death Proof as a really good TV movie B-picture, lovingly directed by a man who knows his source material forwards and backwards.

SEE ALSO: www.grindhousemovie.net
SEE ALSO: www.deathproof.net

--
Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.

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