Quentin Tarantino loves these ‘in between movies’. I suspect that when he is picking, or should I say writing, a project he starts with the record collection then opens a can of self-heating sake and lets his mind tumble out onto the page.
For that we should all be eternally glad.
Deathproof is another movie from QT that speaks of his private obsessions. Sure the obvious things like cars and violence, any reviewer can spot those, but also deeper things that are really apart of his psyche. This man has a fucking amazing DVD collection; that’s all I am saying. If the sum of a man’s ideas and inspirations are to be found on those golden shelves, QT’s shelf is fucking vast. Anyway, actually I am talking of something a little deeper.
I am talking women.
To watch this movie I made the standard QT arrangements. Firstly, I drank the best part of a bottle of wine. Good wine, but nothing that you would serve to your granny. Second, I turned the volume way up and the lights way low. Like Jesus said, “Play it loud”.
Many people read immense volumes into QT’s work. even the post modernist idiots got hold of Pulp Fiction and spent ages chopping its concepts into finer and finer chunks until they, as usual, lost themselves somewhere on the road. You know what, I think pretty much everything QT has done since has been a reaction to that shit. Although the riffs are still there as like other QT films there are angles, tracing shots, scenes and dialogue that are copies, I mean homages, from other films. This is his trademark. In Kill Bill he riffed the Sonny Chiba films, Bruce Lee, Kung Fu movies of the 70’s and manga, amongst many others.
In this movie he is assured enough that for the first 30 minutes he is mainly riffing himself. The ring tone from kill Bill (my brother has that tone), the juke box solo moments, the two Texas cops (also from Kill Bill – great come backs guys) and especially the women. But I will come back to them.
Also mentioned in the mainstream media is the film grain, the rough cuts, the damage to the movie stock. This is all over the place until the moment happens. I don’t want to give it away, but that moment left my jaw on the fucking floor. A shock the like I haven’t seen in years.
Well done sir! Well done.
After that the film clears up. Maybe he ran out of old stock, maybe the reason is simple, but I would like to think it is on purpose. If for nothing else to get clear shots on some of the most amazing women in cinema.
Ah, the women: QT’s true obsession and one all men share. The casting of the ladies in this film is inspired. QT is a big fan of ‘real women’ because ‘real women’ are strong and beautiful, playful, curvaceous, sensual and amazing. It is the true and abiding love of women that drives this film. I could not fail to notice the amazing curves of Vanessa Ferlito (who I last saw being shot in Jack Bauer’s arms in 24) were cast for a very real reason. My mind was taken back to the speech in Pulp Fiction, where the very attractive Maria de Medeiros spoke of what is sexy in a women; the pot belly. This was all there in the way Vanessa dressed, this was all women.
That, of course, added to the shock. It is all the more shocking to get to know someone and then see what happens to them directly after.
Watching QT’s previous movies it was clear that he was in love with his star; Uma. Maybe platonically, but love none the less. Here he gives us a smorgasbord of what he thinks is the ideal women. in the second act, we have the very cute and sassy Tracie Thoms, together with one of the most beautiful women to grace Hollywood in many years; Rosario Dawson and he even tops the delights of her facial acting by casting the brilliant Zoe Bell as herself. Zoe was the stunt double for Uma in Kill Bill and here her blue eyes sparkle most brilliantly as she is, finally, in the cameras eye rather than under a wig. He role, character and performance owes much to her own personality and is all the better for it.
Stunt women are sexy. Any women with that amount of physical confidence is sexy.
With that overloaded amount of ‘girl power’ on screen he had to cast a man’s man as contrast. Kurt Russell is a man’s man’s man.
His roles and career have been some of the highlights of my life’s film-watching. Here he is let loose large on screen as Stuntman Mike. The enjoyment of seeing Mr Russell play a baddy is second to none and his larger than life character balances the strength of the girls. He is a stone cold killer, getting-off on murder, the hunt and the kill. However, being this is QT, he is also bloody cool. Vincent Vega cool.
So much for the casting, what about the story? What story? The story is very simple; a killer stalks girls for some unknown reason. He has a fantastically stupidly over the top US muscle car. He stalks a group, but then picks on some stunt women by mistake who kick the shit out him.
To say that I give nothing away in that synopses shows that this films story is entirely irrelevant as was the point of the Grind House homage:
Exploitation film is a type of film that eschews the expense of quality productions in favour of making films inexpensively, attracting viewers by exciting their more prurient interests. Exploitation films rely heavily on the lurid advertising of their content rather than the intrinsic quality of the film.
Exploitation films may feature forbidden sex, wanton violence, drug use, nudity, freaks, gore, monsters, destruction, rebellion and mayhem. Such films have existed since the earliest days of moviemaking, but they were popularised in the 1960s with the general relaxing of cinematic taboos in the U.S. and Europe. Since the 1990s, this genre has also received attention from academic circles, where it is sometimes called paracinema.
What QT was doing was trying to make a GrindHouse film with an insiders edge to it. One that we would get. One that would add a layer to the otherwise straightforward’s chaos of the story.
He made it. But, It is a fan boy movie sure enough and while I would hold my hand up at at that label : I am much more of a movie fan in general and not limited to violence.
QT is lost on those who aren’t.
I was very worried before I saw this movie. Sure I liked all his other films, but I missed 90% of Grind House cinema (I’m too young at 30) and so I was thinking that finally he had made a movie that I wouldn’t ‘get’. Not a bit of it. I loved Death Proof and recommend it to anyone who loves spotting the riffs in QT’s movies; as well as anyone who loved Pulp Fiction.
8 out of 10 and a good 8 at that. Warning: one scene of unimaginable shock and horror.