Saturday, November 24, 2007

Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino, 2007)

***
USA



Tarantino's Cannes-endorsed half of the quickly buried Grindhouse double-bill is technically set in the present day, while he works hard to convince you it was filmed in the early 1970s. He puts in plenty of blips and scratches, colour drop-outs, 'missing reels' and brazen, extended close-ups of comely women's asses wiggling in hot pants.

Tarantino piled on roughly 20 minutes worth of footage from the cutting room floor to transform his half-movie into a stand-alone feature. It's essentially two hardcore action sequences pitting a homicidal stunt driver against said comely women, padded out with about an hour's worth of a high-school-girl's conception of sassy Sex-and-the-City talk. Since there's no plot or character to speak of, it would appear that the talky segments were put in for purposes of tawdry atmosphere and iconic posturing - except that the dialogue is inane in a very flavourless way, and there is nothing iconic about the ladies dishing it out. Few of them muster up much screen presence and several of them - particularly stunt-woman-turned-bad-actress Zoe Bell - are plain grating. So once the long-awaited reel comes about where they fall into mortal danger, the movie's tension is compromised by the realisation that their death would mean their forever shutting up.

That said, none of them get to do much acting or speaking during the chases, joy rides, dismemberments and head-on collisions. These are thrilling in the best empty-visceral Tarantino fashion.

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