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Apr 30, 2007

Fletch's Film Review: Grindhouse

If you're thinking...about seeing...Grindhouse...DON'T!

That's not my actually recommendation, that's just a reference to the film that those who have seen it ought to appreciate. In fact, I highly recommend the film (to a certain group of people). Let me explain...

Actually, first I have some business to attend to. A few months ago, I harped on both Grindhouse and Black Snake Moan for their seeming lack of purpose. Well, I have yet to see Moan (and still don't have much of a desire to), but I owe an apology to Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, for I could not have been much more wrong about Planet Terror or Death Proof.

The directors have not set out to re-create the blaxploitation genre necessarily, nor are they attempting to exploit anything in this film. This is a trip back in time to the 70s, a trip to their teenage years and the films they grew up on. And regardless of whether or not you grew up watching or loving those movies, Grindhouse is made for the 13-year old boy inside everyone.

And there is the crux, the deciding factor as to whether or not Tarantino and Rodriguez have made a film (or films, rather) for you.

In case you haven't heard, here's a recap: right off the bat, you are introduced to the fact that these aren't just movies that you've come to see, but a cinematic experience, complete with "Coming Attractions" of films that will never see the light of day* and rating messages, all done with a 70s kitsch and tongue planted firmly in cheek. (*The first preview, for a revenge pic titled Machete, starring Rodriguez vet Danny Trejo, looks like it will be made after all, and should be either in theaters or straight-to-DVD sometime in 2008. I can't wait.)

After the Machete preview is Rodriguez's Planet Terror, an adrenaline-soaked, testosterone-filled zombie flick, with enough severed limbs and spurting blood to rival 300 (perhaps). The diminutive Freddy Rodriguez stars as "El Wray," a mysterious sort who has some sort of military training and a chip on his shoulder. But the plot is really besides the point. Rodriguez (Robert, that is) wants to throttle you over the head, and he achieves that in often-hilarious ways.

The "intermission" brings three more previews: the Rob Zombie-directed Werewolf Women of the S.S. (which needs almost no explanation, though I must mention that it features a pretty-funny Nic Cage cameo. Kudos to you, Ghost Rider.), the Eli Roth-directed Thanksgiving (an alternate take on the holiday-themed slashed pic), and the Edgar Wright-directed Don't (a haunted house gone demented). All have their moments, and all are raunchier (and funnier) than just about any preview you've ever seen.

And now time for something completely different...

Tarantino's Death Proof closes out the experience, all style and mood, with a frame of a plot thrown around it. But the plot is immaterial as well. Taking a 180 from Planet Terror, Death Proof hits you with dialogue, some groovy music, some more dialogue, and then some shocking violence. Rinse, lather, repeat. And though that might not sound like much, this is Tarantino's strength (unlike his acting, which pops up its dirty little head in both features, though less egregiously in Death Proof) - he sets a mood, gets you comfortable, gets you a bit anxious for what's next, then blows you away with what follows (a la the razor scene in Reservoir Dogs or the unfortunate shooting of Marvin in Pulp Fiction).

So, if you're looking for a thrilling, visceral, over-the-top cinematic experience, complete with gratuitous sexual themes and violence, Grindhouse is most definitely for you. However, judging by the box office receipts, I'm guessing it's not.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"It's in the hole!"

3 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Grindhouse"

Anonymous said...

These films sucked.
You suck.

Fletch said...

Anonymous said...

These films sucked.
You suck.

I greatly appreciate your feedback. Constructive criticism like this is the only way I'll ever get better. I only wish I knew how to thank you. I will have to scour the world looking for people with your name - in time, I will happen upon you. I patiently wait for this day to come.

Dave Becker said...

I was a fan of GRINDHOUSE, and I especially liked the trailers. I'm glad they've finally released the original version on DVD and Blu-Ray, trailers and all.