Posts Tagged ‘Quentin Tarantino

21
May
08

Death Proof (Grindhouse: Death Proof)

 Death Proof [2007]

Death Proof is Quentin Tarantino’s 5th major movie and is also a part of the Grindhouse collaboration.

Kurt Russell plays ‘Stuntman Mike McKay’, an ex-stuntman that now, for whatever reason, roams the streets in search of young ladies to  murder.  His weapon of choice is some Detroit muscle.

But not just any car will do. Before he puts the pedal to the metal, he must “death proof” his car. This is a old stuntman tradition, done by heavily reinforcing the fame and placing an intricate web of roll bars into the car. When he is strapped into his seat harness, he is in an almost magical way, invincible. With this in place, he can now prey on helpless women around the highways with no fear of getting injured himself.

The movie can very easily be described in halves. Most people who have seen this movie know that there is the first set of girls and the second. Each set takes up a little under an hour to wrap up and tell their part of the story.

OK, this is gonna be a long one, so you want me to start with bads or goods first? Fine, lets get it out of the way.

The bads are quite a list to say the least. WOW. Where to begin. First of all, boring. Boring, boring, boring, boring. The first 45 min of the movie is hard for ANYONE to watch and be 100% engaged into the film. Why is that? Well, because the story, for the most part, follows around 4 of the most uninteresting young women you could ever hope to not meet.

These would be girls you see that work at Mervyns and are always outside on a smoke break. The girl that gave you a quick ride home last year. Remember? When you got in her car, it smelled SO bad and was completely trashed from top to bottom. She thought after High School, she would meet a doctor and run away. But he never showed up, so they continue their vain attempt to find a decent guy using booze and cheap perfume to lure him. For some odd reason, she has multiple PETCO P.A.L.S. cards in her purse. You get the picture. I already know too much about these girls based on their lifestyle and appearance. Why would I want to know more? Well too bad. You get novels of dialogue between them. Back and forth. Talking about weed, humping guys, bars, liquor, laziness, and…………………………. under ground, rare, impossible to find, old, soul music?

Wait… what?????

My main problem with the dialogue in this movie, is that it is obviously writen by a guy. These girls talk like guys. And not just any guy. They all talk like Quentin Tarantino himself. Its shown with their quirky taste in everything from t-shirts, poems, music, and yes, movies too. You ever wonder why Big Bank Hank from the Shugarhill Gang sounds like Grand Master Caz? CAUSE GMC WROTE HIS RHYMES! The same goes for this. Its TOTALLY obvious. The first 45 minutes is almost completely unbearable and I always find myself fast-forwarding through parts.

The first half also has the ‘Grindhouse’ feel with the cheap horror music, bad editing, and damaged film. This look is one of the better parts of the first half… but for some reason… its gone in the 2nd half? Totally doesn’t fit or make sense.

Another thing about this movie is that is almost a collage of references. As if it was the art project where you cut up magazines and make a big ugly poster of all the things you like. Its no secret Tarantino is a fan of the old road movies, so you may call it a “tribute”, but it borders on the line of straight unoriginal. Its everywhere. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Convoy, Vanishing Point, Gone in 60 Seconds, Smokey and the Bandit, Gator… the list goes on! Every time I see a road movie, I see something that Tarantio took! There are so many ‘nods’ in this movie, it may as well be a giant bobble head!

Sounds pretty abysmal doesn’t it? Well, he’s not the great “QT” for nothing. He can work wonders at times… It seems he needs a big knock out to recover from this brutal beating. Can he pull it off?

Well, there is many great things about this flick as well. The 2nd half of girls have much better lines and its way easier to care and follow whats going on. Although its still obvious a geeky film buff wrote this script, based on their very niche interests. The acting is better, the lines are better, and the pace is better.

Tarantino is not of big fan of CGI (nor am I for that matter!). And this is clear as he set out to make a car movie with no computer animated driving or stunts. THANK YOU QT! Because of this film, he put plenty of old stuntmen to work. Hollywood now a days doesn’t want real action. It costs too much and takes too much time. They would rather pay some gord in his parents basement to computer animate a sequence because its faster and cheaper. The chase scenes are some of THE BEST in history in my opinion. Gets me excited every time. Hats off to QT and the stuntmen who worked very hard on this film!

Also, Kurt Russell does a great job of the “Cowardly Lion” like killer. He plays a washed up has-been stuntman that thinks hes still slick. Even though no one has heard of the TV shows or movies he as worked on. He really thinks he is impressing these girls with his credentials and his John Wayne impression! That may work on girls in the 70’s, but not now! What a great out of touch creep he plays. It was said by Kurt that the character was actually based on a stuntman he grew up around.

Every car is hand picked to be a killer! You get a Nova, a Charger, a Mustang, and a Challenger. Great picks and nice variety. The abrupt ending is fantastic, and very ‘Grindhouse’ / B-movie feel. I couldn’t have ended it better!

Well, when its all said and done, this movie drains the life out of you, then pumps it back in. It would easily gain a 5 star rating if they had just been more careful what they put in. But instead you get a 0 star that works its way back up to 3 star.

So, if I confused you, 3 star. You will love and appreciate the best stunt driving in history. The story may make you laugh in the end. And Kurt Russells performance is perfect. But the first half of the movie will drain and drag you down, leaving you to fast forward the first parts over and over.

03
May
08

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown [1997]

Pam Grier stars as ‘Jackie Brown’ in Quentin Tarantino’s film adaptation of the now famous novel ‘Rum Punch’.

The film has an all-star cast including not only Pam Grier, but Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, and Bridget Fonda as well.

Jackie works as a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline. However, the pay is minimal, so she is involved in bringing illegal money into the country for a ruthless, low-life weapons dealer, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). As the police begin to crack down on Ordell, they take various people into custody, including Jackie Brown. Fearing his employees may snitch, Ordell begins to find ways to ‘silence’ them.

Max Cherry (Robert Forster) a bail bondsmen, comes to Jackie’s rescue and begins to fall deeply for her. Together the two plan an elaborate scheme to get Ordell’s cash money, ditch the cops, and leave their dead end lives behind. This proves difficult as the police are watching their every move. Not only that, but Ordell has his own movers and shakers including Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) to put the squeeze on them.

I find this movie to be one of the most solid movies available. The script is tight, the acting is the best around, and the story telling is fantastic! They really found a diamond in the rough with Pam Grier. Other than her skin color, you would never guess she got her start in Blaxploitation films. She carries herself with such a presence, you would swear she studied at Juilliard. Not only that, she look amazing for 48 (at the time of the films release). Another star that shines perhaps more than it was intended to, was Robert Forster as Max. Forster does a terrific job as a gentle, reliable, and tough when necessary aging man. His performance is defiantly reminiscent of the leading roles in classic western movies. And when this old ‘square’ white guy falls in love with a slick sista, he preforms it innocently and makes it more than realistic.

On the villain side, Samuel L. Jackson does a terrific job in what I think is one of his best roles ever. He perfectly walks the fine line between too cool for school and paranoid. If you had your own personal Samuel L. Jackson, you could throw out your microwave, because his stone cold gazes would heat your food up in a jiffy. As usual, you can count on Bobby De Niro to bring his A game. People thinking acting dumb is easy. I find it to be one of the most challenging roles an actor can take on. Like Sylvester Stallone in Cop Land, Robert De Niro plays it second nature. Trust me, its much harder than it looks. Both together seem harmless, but the danger is real when you cross them.

The story is awesome, and much like Scorsese’s Casino or Goodfellas, you are taken for a ride by the seat of your pants, with every factor explained to you in detail. The only thing I could find wrong with this movie, was Jackie gets off the hook a little too easy, and Ordell’s last scene has no real satisfaction.

But overall, it was so well done, it effortlessly deserves 4 stars. Its very close to a 5 star, but I just don’t see it as a movie you would love to show off to all your friends when they come over. It being over 2 and 1/2 hours makes it hard to pop in over and over.




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