Monday, April 9, 2007

Grindhouse - A Review

From the reports I've read, Grindhouse, the Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino double feature is to be split into two movies and released (outside of the US) separately, two months apart. The stupid reason QT gives is that, people who live outside the US wouldn't know or relate to the idea of Grindhouse and hence wouldn't get the point of the movie. Well, I believe today's middle and upper middle class American youth wouldn't know much about Grindhouse either without a little Googling or Wikipedia-ing. So there really is no intention other than satisfying the greed of the Weinstein company (the same people that recommended Kill Bill to be made in two parts. Although how a single, long Kill Bill might have worked is beyond me). All one needs to do before going for the movie is to look up Wikipedia and read up what Grindhouse cinema really is. Not much rocket science here, really. Thankfully, I (who had no idea of the concept of Grindhouse, not many months ago) had the chance to watch it as a double feature. Those who still wonder what Grindhouse really is, might first want to look it up here and get back to the review.

Grindhouse is a back-to-back double feature that shows two movies which are the directors' homage to the Grindhouse movies of the '70's. The movies also feature fake trailers directed by Eli Roth, Robert Rodriguez, Rob Zombie. The first movie is Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror followed by Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.

Planet Terror is RR's homage to the zombie movies, very predictable in plotline, with people infected by some chemical turning them into zombies and spreading terror all around them. The movie features the kind of gore that after a few shocks turns comedic with its mostly over-the-top execution that makes the audience laugh and cringe. Clearly, you can feel the fun that RR must have had while making the movie. A stripper played by the very tasty Rose McGowan loses her leg in an accident and her knight in shining armor, Wray (Freddy Rodriguez) who is surprisingly good with knives and guns
gets her an automatic gun to attach to her leg! Which, by the way, is the signature moment of the whole movie. Planet Terror with all it's so-bad-that-it's-so-brilliant-that-it's-art grips you from the very outset and takes you on a juicy blood-splattered ride, complete with people's eyeballs (as well as balls) popping out and heads splitting into gross squishy lumps of mass that slowly turns out to be far from revolting to watch, after a while. They also recreate the 'reel missing' part during the movie where an entire 20 minute segment may have been lost, to give us a feel of how movies played out
in the dilapidated and neglegient Grindhouse theatres of yore. At the end, you feel that RR gets it spot on, right through the movie, and you look forward to the next movie with heightened expectations of his much fancied friend.

After the more than entertaining fake trailers that come between the two movies, Death Proof begins, complete with QT's fetish for shots of well endowed bottoms and bare feet women. After the gripping fast paced action that was Planet Terror, things mellow down to long portions of banal dialogue. Death Proof stars Kurt Russel, alongwith an assorted selection of women. The first part of the movie serves as segments for QT's indulgences. All the usual suspects, that we have learned to expect watching his movies come to the fore, with his mandatory playlist of eclectic music that he's grown up listening to, the long winding but sharp dialogue when all background music gets muted, and his references to his own invented brands of cigarettes, booze and burgers. But the movie kicks up a gear when Kurt Russel who plays the character of a Stuntman (Stuntman Mike) takes an unsuspecting girl (a blonde Rose McGowan) in his supposedly 'Death Proof' car and kills her off by crashing it in every possible way. He goes on to kill the other women later on. The movie then shifts to another scene where it shifts to another group of women that Stuntman Mike tries to target. This is the part where things screech to a halt; where conversations, although much more entertaining than the first half - with all the expletive-filled sex talk and wit that QT revels in, makes one start to look at the watch and wonder if the director has really lost his way somewhere along. While RR's Planet Terror had all the elements of a zombie exploitation flick with all the intentionally greased and burnt out print, Tarantino's print looks more like a conventional movie, letting us know that his version of a tribute aims to be more sincere. But until the great car chase at the end of the movie, it's all mostly about girls chattering away lines written by the crazily witty mind of QT. But isn't all this already familiar? If this was to be a Grindhouse movie, how could an average ghetto dweller sit through 15-20 minutes of pure aimless conversation? It does get entertaining at times, but it also gets a tad too long, given we already sat through a period of dopey conversation in the earlier half of the movie. Anyhow, the car chase scene at the end makes up for the torpor that the movie had briefly descended into. The movie features Zoe Bell, whom hardcore Kill Bill fans would recognize as the stuntwoman for Uma Thurman. She plays herself and goes about doing some stunts of her own during the car chase scene that leads to the end of the movie. Kurt Russel is truly marvellous doing a great job being flirty, being evil and being funny when in pain and thus takes the cake.

It must be mentioned that the faux trailers are hilarious and are as important to the experience of the double feature as the movies themselves. In conclusion, it's a must watch, for the whole uniqueness of the experience and I advise people outside of the States to wait for the DVD release (or torrents or whatever) Do not go for your local theatrical release, because the double-bill is the whole essence of the experience. For those in the US and with plenty of time to kill, Grindhouse is worth every bit of the time that you subject to gory deaths and every bit worth the dollar you spend. Hey! It's two movies for the price of one! You don't see that everyday.

And yes, if it hadn't already occurred to you during the course of reading this review, the movie *IS* EXTREMELY GORY. Even if most of it turned out to be funny, the random shock element pops up once a while, so definitely not for the faint hearted.
blog comments powered by Disqus