Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Hot Rod Apocalypse 4

A cheap copy of Inglorious Basterds came my way and having watched it I'm scratching the old noggin why people said it was all that. I used to really like Quentin Tarantino movies but this my friends was a stinker, not bad per se but messy and unentertaining. And when Tarantino isn't entertaining he's dull, there's no way around it, like he gets trapped in a room by himself writing scenes of dialogue and can't stop talking about whatever crosses his mind like that begrizzled, bathrobe lunatic in the hotel lobby making toothpick castles and arguing with herself about yes goldurn it Bill Maher does wear pinstripes when stucco ceilings peel. Look at Kill Bill vol 2. Was anybody truly entertained by those scenes of rambling dialogue? As Truman Capote said, "That isn't writing at all, it's typing."

Okay, big breath. I just had to get my feelings on the table.

I hated Death Proof when I saw it, so maybe that means with time I'll come to appreciate Inglorious Basterds for the masterpiece it truly is.

Doubt it, though.

Death Proof falls into the Toothpick Castles category of film making, but with a twist: the first hour moves briskly and is go-go-gorgeous. My man Kurt Russell is cooler than he's been in awhile -Dark Blue wasn't awful but came out ages ago. His Stuntman Mike character is straight out of the Tarantino love zone, namely 70's cinema, and I'm right there with him. Please let me grow old to look like Kurt Russell in this movie.

The setting is Austin, TX, during a gulf storm and follows some hot chicks into a hot bar where the jukebox sounds like the Pulp Fiction soundtrack and they serve Chartreuse ("The only liqueur so good they named a color after it!") in shotglasses. This is the first half of the film I'm referring to, as you'll recall, and isn't to be confused with later developments with another group of hot chicks in Somewheres, Tennessee. When the story leaves Texas, my advice is to turn off the dvd or risk getting a feeling in your guts like alcohol poisoning as the dialogue goes on and on to Nowheres, Tennessee, and you wish they'd taken a left turn at Sweet Home Alabama.

When I originally saw Death Proof it was half of a collaboration between Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez called Grindhouse. They must not have gotten the memo I sent about Four Rooms. Don't remember that one? Neither does anyone else. Bringing these guys together is not a recipe for good times. What it is a recipe for is two hours of your life gone because of indulgent moviemaking that probably plays great at one of Mr Rodriguez's famous house parties but for the rest of us is an in-joke with no punchline. Granted, Grindhouse has highlights. I couldn't recognize them at the time, but when a cheapo dvd of Death Proof became available I said to myself why not give it another try.

Self: Why not give it another try?

Self: You think I should.

Self: I know you should, mofo honky.

Self: I'm a honky mofo now?

Self: No.

Self: No?

Self: You didn't listen. I said you're a mofo honky, not a honky mofo. There's a difference.

Self: Stop trying to sound like Samuel L Jackson. It hurts my ears.

So with scotch in hand -liquor so good they named a country after it -I sat down with the flick about hot chicks and Kurt Russell and... I liked it. Sharp dialogue, great music, gorgeous photography, and "bad" editing played for laughs: for a fan of 70's cinema, it's a lot of fun. The premise isn't too complicated. Stuntman Mike is a survivor of the seventies. He's got a Mustang funny car built for stunts, a death proof car, and he has a thing for showing hot chicks that they are not like his car, not death proof. I didn't say the movie isn't educational.

You can see where this is going. One gruesome smash-up later and you've got a lot of dead hot chicks and Stuntman Mike ready for the second half of the movie. Bet you can't even guess what happens next. More hot chicks. More Stuntman Mike. Pass Go and collect your death proof ducats and reach up and switch off the tube and save sixty minutes of your life.

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