Friday, April 06, 2007

Movie Review: Grindhouse

It's been only 2 hours since I emerged from the first Grindhouse matinee of the day. Only a few minutes ago, someone said to me they heard Bruce Willis and Kurt Russell were in a movie so bad it was good. At least, that's what the local newspaper review led them to believe. Apparently the reviewer was out of the loop because this work is so good, it's incredible.

If you don't know, Grindhouse is Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez's homage to the B-movie, drive-in double-feature of the 70's. This includes Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Tarantino's Death Proof. Adding to the authenticity, they were nice enough to scratch the film, lose some scenes, and even break the projector here and there. That wasn't enough, though. They took it a step further and gave us throwback commercials, fake trailers, and even some blurry credits. The entire package is designed with one goal in mind...entertainment. And to that end, it delivers.

First up at the Grindhouse, the fake trailer for Machete. Rodriguez staples Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin deliver the best looking trailer of the bunch. Trejo walks some familiar territory as Rodriguez filmed one scene almost straight from Desperado. The end result is so good I wanted to see the movie, and based on some of the comments around the web, that just might happen.

After some antique ratings and feature presentation banners, we get the first full-length movie, Planet Terror. Rodriguez hauled out the fake blood and body parts by the truckloads, and with tongue fixed squarely in cheek gives us lines like "I never miss," in a classic zombie romp. The missing reel was timed so beautifully that the audience groaned audibly in disappointment, but it wasn't long before Cherry (Rose McGowan) had a machine gun for a leg replacing disappointment with laughter. If you took Planet Terror seriously, you would think it was absurd, but knowing the intent, it's genius.

At intermission, Grindhouse gave us some fake food commercial along with 3 more trailers. Unfortunately, the facilities beckoned so I really only saw the fake trailer Werewolf Women of the SS. The cameo (can you call an appearance in a fake trailer a cameo???) toward the end is the payoff and had the audience in stitches. Eli Roth and Edgar Wright deliver the other two trailers which I'll leave alone since I didn't see them in context.

Moving on...we finally get Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Make no mistake...this is a Quentin Tarantino movie even if it's also paying tribute to a genre. What does that mean? It means the movie might seem to be moving slow because he's building characters through dialog. But make no mistake, there will be a payoff in the end.

Death Proof is about Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) and his "death proof" stunt car. To say more might spoil it for you so I'll leave it at that. You can infer more from the trailer, but it would be great to go into this one knowing nothing about it. Again, we get hit with a missing reel at a key moment eleciting another set of groans from the mostly male audience. One can only hope they find all of them for the DVD release...

The real focus, though, is the car chase. Tarantino wanted to make a great car chase without CGI, and he did just that. Casting a real stuntwoman (Zoe Bell) as herself in the movie was genius, and lets Tarantino get away with whatever camera work he wanted during the car chase as he's not trying to hide anyone's face. The chase was so good, the entire audience applauded...something I haven't seen here in a theater for years.

My recommendation is get out and see Grindhouse. It's quite an experience. You can watch the trailer below:



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