Thursday, April 26, 2007

Movie Review: Grindhouse

So last night Doctor Octagon and I went out to see Grindhouse. He is one of the few friends I have with whom I could indulge my morbid curiosity without any embarassment. We went to a big screen Regal theater, paid student price, bought popcorn and sodas and candy, and sat ourselves down.

The beginning of the movie runs some fake rating information and a fake preview for a splatter film about a mexican immigrant hitman called "Machete" if I remember right. The scratchy film, the graphics and typeface, the colorization and the music were all spot-on. It sounds like it wouldn't be that big a deal, but I found the intro and intermission cuts really fantastic, the styling and presentation were novel, and the effects of scratchy old 70's film just rocked. I was encouraged.

The Rodriguez presentation, Planet Terror, is a zombie movie. It starts with a strip club, and gets into the action in no time flat. The pacing of the movie, the mix of action and "characterization" (what there was of it), and even the film reel melting at one point and going into a quick technical intermission were all well timed and enjoyable. The movie, of course, is utterly ridiculous -- and great. It's plenty over the top and schlocky, without an even vague attempt at artiness or highbrow anything -- just blood and guts and guns and booty.

I ended this movie glad I had shown up. This redeems Rodriguez for me from his (in my opinion) complete flop Once Upon a Time in Mexico -- a movie that didn't go far enough into schlocky, didn't pile it on high enough, and just ended up seeming ridiculous and a waste of time despite having two of my favorite actors in it (Depp and Dafoe).

Then came Tarantino's presentation, Death Proof. To cut to the chase, I'll say that the parts of it that were good, were just dandy. Really nice retro car-chase genre craziness. He even was able to take it up a notch and introduce new stunts and such that were great, I'll give him that. But then we come to the other -- oh, 45 minutes of this movie. Although most of this footage was of pretty women in skimpy retro clothing running around and gossiping -- it was completely and utterly bland and uninteresting. It was like a high-budget, long-ass Gap commercial. It's unfortunate that some of the best stuff in this movie is at the end, because I have to suggest to folks who have any interest just to stick it out so you can see a good, over-the-top, and satisfying ending. But I can sympathize with the people I saw walking out of the theater midway through.

An aside about me and Tarantino. As ridiculous as it is, through many 2nd- and 3rd- and 4th-hand accounts of him in public (including a story by Henry Rollins in his DVD Shock and Awe), I've decided Tarantino is a self-centered, ego-maniacal prig. This doesn't help my opinion of his movie. I developed a theory as I was watched a bone-crushingly overlong scene of 4 girls talking in a diner, where the camera slowly pans back and forth and back and forth in about a 270-degree pan behind the heads and into the faces of the ladies eating breakfast and talking about nothing in particular. Tarantino thinks we give a shit. He thinks everyone else's taste is exactly like his -- that whatever stylistic movie reference he was making with that scene was as gripping for all of us as it is for him. Sorry buddy, I don't give a shit and you should know better. I have decided that he's sucked up so far into his own head (and possibly an opposing orifice) that he has lost touch with his audience completely and is performing some kind of elaborate self-gratfication at our expense.

Ok that was a little harsh, but it was fun to write.

So -- if you like splatter films, or retro films, or even action movies, see Grindhouse; especially if you can catch it at a Beer Theater where don't have to pay full price, you can get a little tipsey on fantastic micro-brewed beer, and throw popcorn and insults at the screen with impunity. It will be a good time. If you miss that option, rent the dvd and fast-forward through much of Tarantino's film.

Almost forgot -- be warned that this sucker really is a double-feature and after previews etc. you will be in the theatre over 3 1/2 hours. It's a marathon.


Shocho said...

Glad you went! I'm such a Rodriguez fanboy I liked OUATIM too, so I loved Planet Terror. I've been trying to buy a T-shirt.

I think Death Proof suffered from having a hard act to follow. Critics really loved it. I liked it, but not a great deal.

Bpaul said...

I don't think I'm enough of a movie-phile to get all his references in the movie. I know folks who did get them and loved it.

I hold to my assertions though, when it was good it was good, when it was a Gap commercial it was a Gap commercial LOL.

Trappin' Pat said...

Of course I loved the movie...

You forgot to mention that the movie burned up just as the sex scene was getting HOT!

Next time I'll call you before I go to a good monster/trash movie.

Sounds like you forgot a flask; the movie just keeps getting better and better (till you need go to the can).

Bpaul said...

"flask; the movie just keeps getting better and better (till you need go to the can)."

LOL! And yet another confirmation of your identity.