Saturday, April 7, 2007


I probably don't need to advertize this movie to anyone who's likely to be interested in it, but the new Rodriguez/Tarantino, Grindhouse, is awesome. Go see it.

A few thoughts occurred to me when I saw this movie.

The first movie of the double feature is Planet Terror, Rodriguez's zombie flick. What I found interesting about this half, from a movie geek point of view, is how much story the audience can pick out from just a few cues. In addition to the main, stereotypical zombie movie, it's dripping with dozen of B plots all of which are immediately comprehensible despite a great lack of detail. It's like those psychology experiments where you can recognize a face even when it's been pixellated to an amazingly low resolution.

Death Proof, Tarantino's half, has a completely different tone. It is a full-on Tarantino movie and not just a Tarantino pastiche of exploitation movies. Some critics seem to find this objectionable, as if Tarantino were guilty of indulging himself. But let's face it: Tarantino's made a career of this kind of thing, and I'd expect him to do more than mere homage.

Tarantino's cinematography features a lot of macro closeups; nearly impressionistic studies of characters' faces, fingers, artifacts, etc, that give a finely detailed view, though an incomplete one. His writing and plotting resemble these shots - he goes into great depths in some scenes, so that we have a strong impression of the characters without having to have the whole story.

That the two halves are so different is a good thing: 3-1/2 hours of either style would be exhausting. So, the two halves work, and work together.

Of course every one loves the trailers before and in the middle of the movie. What's interesting are the real trailers you'll see with the movie: most of them are just as bad as the parodies. Hollywood these days might consider the "exploitation" movie obsolete, but perhaps a better word would be redundant. Movies today are every bit as exploitive, whatever big budget, A-list pretensions they might have; it's too bad most of them can't seem to have as much fun as Rodriguez and Tarantino obviously did. To cement the irony, one of the "real" trailers shown with Grindhouse was for a remake of Halloween, directed by Rob Zombie, who made a fake trailer for Werewold Women of the SS.

Anyway, short version: Grindhouse good, go see.

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