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Sunday, April 08, 2007


I caught "Grindhouse" last night with three friends. We attended a 10:50 p.m. screening. The ticket seller AND the ticket tearer both stressed that this screening would take us past 2 a.m. It was a dark, cold 2:20 when I walked to my car after the flick.

My verdict: "Grindhouse" rocks.

This movie nails the elusive vibe of exploitation movies of the past. It's as if Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and company mixed ingredients from "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry," "Eaten Alive," "Death Race 2000," "City of the Walking Dead," "Ilsa, She Wolf of the S.S.," "The Incredible Melting Man," "The Crazies," "The Toxic Avenger," "Reanimator" and others in a blender -- without the lid on.

The scatched film stock, the sometimes monophonic soundtrack, the missing frames (and "reels"), the deadpan dialogue, the cheezy FX, the car crashes, the leering shots of scantily clad actresses -- all of it added up to a dream movie for aficionados of low-budget exploitation movies.

Of course, thanks to those irresistable "Grindhouse" trailers, everyone was dying to see Rose McGowan with a machine gun for a leg. Rest assured, those scenes really pay off. Rose is luminous in her two "Grindhouse" roles; this should be her starmaker. Ageless Kurt Russell is so good, you'll forget all about "Tango & Cash" and "Captain Ron." Rosario Dawson (a doll as always), New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell (playing herself!) and Tracie Thoms are three girls you don't wanna be messin' with.

I think it's time for Quentin Tarantino to finally make HIS dream movie, "Playing Footsie," about a foot fetishist gone wild. After presenting loving closeups of the tootsies of Bridget Fonda (in "Jackie Brown") and Uma Thurman (in "Kill Bill: Vol. 1"), Tarantino has gone whole hog in "Grindhouse" with shot after shot after shot emphasizing the pretty peds of Sydney Tamiia Poitier. Get it out of your system already, Quentin.

My favorite of the fake trailers is "Machete." Man, that Danny Trejo is magic. He can do no wrong. WHAT A FACE. To Robert Rodriguez: Please, please, please finish making "Machete."

My biggest complaint about "Grindhouse": Tarantino's two onscreen roles. Rodriguez's casting of Tarantino, not to mention Tarantino's casting of himself, is far from objective or organic. You can't even call it "nepotism"; I'll call it "filmmaker masturbation." It stinks of indulgence.

Listen, some directors have acting chops -- Kevin Smith among them -- and have rightfully earned a place in front of the camera. Tarantino ain't one of those dudes. If Tarantino was to play a movie geek, that might work. But darned if he isn't always cast as a tough guy and/or a cool guy, SOMETHING HE IS INCAPABLE OF PULLING OFF.


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