Monday, September 24, 2007

Death Proof: Outside the house

Ok, I did watch the uncut and unrated DVD of Death Proof by Quentin Tarantino.

In my Grindhouse review, I noted that while I loved the overall experience of it, I found Death Proof a bit more problematic. So this expansion was a chance to either fix it or make it even more problematic.

Oddly, it does a bit of both.

Overall, I'd say I like it a little less.

Mostly, outside Grindhouse, with it's double feature format with the wonderful fake trailers and evening at the "grindhouse" format, the scratchy film and purposely awkward editing doesn't have a context to breathe in.

Back before the Weinsteins chickened out on the concept, after failing to be able to market it, there was talk of a DVD release of the whole package that would be followed by Criterion style separate releases that would fully restore the movies with missing reels back and the film cleaned up, etc. Frankly, it was a funny idea and potentially one of the most clever double dip ideas I've heard.

This movie would especially have benefited from that treatment. In fact, I agree with Chris Barry in this post, they should have gone so far as to "restore" the on-screen "original" title of "Quentin Tarantino's Thunder Bolt" as well. It oddly plays into the game for those of us who enjoyed it, but also could even further separate it from that for people who didn't like or get the original marketing.

As to how the longer cut plays, well, I don't know what to say.

The first, and always weaker, half, plays even worse here. What can you say about spending even more time with people who never were very likable and oddly even less interesting. I had complained about the lack of the lap dance before, but seeing it played out only makes it obvious why it was cut. It's really dull. Yes, a really dull lap dance! I still think cutting it down to thirty seconds and not repeating the missing reel gag that was done much, much better earlier would have been smarter.

The second segment begins with a longer sequence that makes clearer that Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike character is stalking the second group as well, and hasn't just happened upon them as he seems to in the shorter version. Aside from that, the other additions don't add anything, but work better because that group of characters is much more likable and entertaining to watch.

And, yes, it all still comes down to the final chase sequence with Zoë Bell playing herself and doing her own stunts and that still totally rocks.

I'm hopeful that Planet Terror will be as good or better, since I felt it was the better segment in the first place.

Unfortunately, it seems neither have the fake trailers. I would have at least liked to be able to quickly cobble together the experience of the movie. In fact, I'd like to be able to turn it around completely. Grindhouse did originally play a bit like going to see a concert with AC/DC opening for Tony Bennett, no matter how logical the order might sound based on their relative prominence, the first sets up an adrenaline level in the audience that the second can't quite manage to match, and as the metaphorical AC/DC was having a particularly awesome night and the metaphorical Tony Bennett was having a generally off night... or at least a strange one, blowing his hits but nailing some unexpected choices... it only made the juxtaposition more noteworthy.

That said, in any order, I still love Grindhouse as a whole unit. Death Proof on its own is just my least favorite Tarantino movie.


Ed Hardy, Jr. said...

Yeah, I always wondered why they didn't put DEATHPROOF first on the double bill--maybe they were afraid people would walk out after the Tarantino half? It is, certainly, my least favorite Tarantino movie, but it's one I'm really glad he made.

You didn't think the lapdance gave us a nice character moment for Stuntman Mike?

Neil Sarver said...

I assume that they were perceiving Tarantino as the "name" artist and that people would go to see Death Proof as much or more than the event, but I suspect that wasn't especially true. I agree that it's good to exist, although moreso as a part of Grindhouse, which frankly still needs a DVD release.

Unfortunately, I didn't much think the lapdance offered anything needed for either character. Mind you, the unplanned and tacked on repeating of the missing reel gag at that point was the worst moment of Grindhouse, and I'd even support it being removed from a DVD, but I wouldn't include more than 30 seconds of the scene.

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