Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?

photo 12 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
Would-be fiction writers reading texts on learning how to write are often confronted by flat vs. round characters. Flat characters are the folk of genre: the brave hero, the dastardly villain, the salty cook, the whore with a heart of gold. Round characters are the ones with an inner life, Raskolnikov, Becky Sharp. Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino could not have set out to make a better illustration of this duality than GRINDHOUSE, their double feature tribute to the exploitation films of the 60s and 70s. One is loud and gruesome, a non-stop cartoon that starts at 11 and never slackens the brain-blasting pace. The other is all pacing and timing, introducing its characters with lengthy set pieces that are actionless and near-tedious, and yet so endearing that when some of these characters meet a brutal fate and others are jeopardized, it creates heart-pounding anxiety. Anyone with any knowledge of the filmmakers involved can figure out which is which, but to find out more, you’ll have to go to the spoiler filled jump. WARNING: I mean it. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen GRINDHOUSE.

photo 09 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
In Rodriguez’ PLANET TERROR we are indeed in a world of terror, pus splattering tongue lesions, melting penises, machine-gun-limbed amputees and shambling, bubbling zombie horrors. The question is not will a needle be plunged into someone’s eye but just how many times it will be threatened before we get to the payoff.

The heroine is Rose McGowan’s Cherry Darling, a lissome go-go dancer who quits her night job to find her fortune as a stand up comic. Considering she ends up with only one leg to stand on you can see the joke coming.

Along the way we see Naveen Andrews as a biochemist who collects testicle, an uncredited Bruce Willis as a tough Army guy who killed bin Laden when he wasn’t supposed to, Michael Biehn as a steely sheriff, Jeff Fahey as a cook with a top secret barbecue recipe, Marley Shelton and Josh Brolin as two doctors with a rocky marriage and Freddy Rodriguez as Wray, a tough guy with a mysterious past.

photo 18 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
The story such as it is, involves a cannister of nerve gas that turns people into zombies, some trucks and a lot of ordnance. You can kind of figure the rest out. Explosions, severed limbs, severed digits, fireballs and so on.

Rodriguez is an energetic director, to say the least–he acts as cinematographer, composer and screenwriter. But it’s just possible that seeing to all those duties (which he is more than cabaple of) may just be distracting him from really digging into the fine print. By now to expect much in the way of real storytelling from him is beside the point. Part of the GRINDHOUSE gag is that both films have missing reals — in PLANET TERROR’s case it’s the one with all the dialogue-ridden exposition, and no one will feel that they’re missing out on on much.

PLANET TERROR is very imaginative — go-go dancers with machine guns for legs! — and profoundly dumb–the only true pleasure I found in it was the sight of Fergie with her brains sucked out, a wonderful metaphor for our times. Some could also see it as profoundly dumb fun, and I won’t gainsay those who enjoyed it. I would probably have enjoyed it more if Rodriguez had an ironic bone in his body — the kind of occasional sly nod shown to the source material that Police Squad and Garth Marenghi’s DarkPlace (and even Tarantino in a spot or two) used would have been welcome relief here.

After an intermission composed of faux trailers directed by Rob Zombie, Edgar Wright and Eli Roth — a Nazi women in prison movie, horror thriller DON’T and a Thanksgiving slasher film respetively–the Tarantino episode, DEATH PROOF, begins. And right away the pace slows…to molasses. And here is where we separate the men from the boys.

photo 13 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
We open on Jungle Julia (Syndey Tamilia Portier) a saucy DJ in Austin who is out for a night with the girls, including her out of town pal Arlene (Vanessa Ferlito). In patented Tarantino fashion, we meet them via an endless stream of dialogue, played out in various settings — a moving car, a bar. We know Tarantino loves his dialogue set pieces, but this seems excessive even for him. The ladies show up at a bar where they meet Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) a has-been stuntman whose career involves such high points as The Virginian and High Chaparrel. He’s trying to get a little attention from these sassy ladies and who can blame him? He offers to give another girl named Pam (Rose McGowan in a dual role) a ride home in his tricked out stunt car, and suddenly the pitiable has-been becomes a raving psychopath on the road. The first group of women are killed in a gruesome, shocking car crash scene shown four times. It’s horrible and reinforces for many Tarantino’s track record of brutality to women.

photo 07 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
And then, we meet a NEW quartet of women — Abernathy, Zoe, Kim and Lee, played by Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Tracie Thoms and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Unlike the ordinary woman, these ladies are already part of Stuntman Mike’s world — they’re in town for a B-movie shoot and have a weekend off. Once again, an almost unbearly long set piece introduces them, especially a supposedly one-shot brunch scene in which the camera wheels around all four as they eat toast, eggs, and hash browns, adding ketchup at the necessary moments. It’s a freaking brunch documentary. It turns out Zoe — who is playing herself, a New Zealand stuntwoman who doubloed for Uma Thurman in Kill Bill — has discovered a vintage car she’s always dreamed of driving on sale nearby: a white 1970 Dodge Challenger, the same one used in VANISHING POINT, a 70s road race film. Zoe and Kim know all about it — they’re in “the business” — while Lee and Abby are skeptical. Abby talks the hillbilly selling the car into letting them take an unsupervised spin in the wheels — leaving Lee, in her cheerleader costume behind as bait, collateral or perhaps a sacrifice.

Once they hit the road, Zoe starts a death defying stunt just for kicks — unaware that Stuntman Mike is waiting for them down the highway.

photo 05 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
What follows is a car chase shot, as Stuntman Mike says, the old way, for real — or should I say for reel. Bell plays herself, clinging to the hood of the car through hairpin turns and crashes. It’s virtuoso, it’s nailbiting and the payoff is everything it should be.

I’m nearly shocked that several reviewers like PLANET TERROR better or say it is a better film. But DEATH PROOF is almost unbearably talky, it’s true. In this Cinematical roundtable four guys talk about the movie, including the boring talking parts of DEATH PROOF. Guys will be as bored by the women’s chatter in the film as they are by women’s chatter in real life. For me, it was like listening to my girlfriend’s talk; occasionally tedious when they don’t want to listen to me go on about VANISHING POINT (or in my case, ZULU) but a typical night out.

photo 14 Grindhouse: Who Needs Chris Masterson?
GRINDHOUSE’s two parts are the juxtaposition of old school filmmaking and the video-game cgi era. Many of today’s movie viewers genuinely prefer the laughing gas, non-stop thrills of PLANET TERROR. That’s not me, but I understand I am coming from a different, perhaps atavistic place. In DEATH PROOF, Tarantino uses the minimalism of the limited budget — there is only so much cash for so many action scenes, but when they come, they need to matter, and when they show up, they do matter. Brian Wood does a good job giving the opposite viewpoint, when he is repelled by the unneccesary brutality of the car crash scene.

Tarantino had this to say in USA Today, which may not be much defense:

Tarantino says his violence is no joke, but draws out an ugly side of human nature, even in the audience. “It’s made to be pretty horrible and there ain’t nothing funny about it, to me,” he says. “Part of what’s going on in there is you want the crash to happen. As the cars are heading toward each other, if at the last moment they swerved and missed, you’d feel cheated, you want that impact. And then when you get it, it’s 15 times worse you didn’t want that. “But too bad; you’re already complicit. You wanted it to happen for the exact reason he wanted it to happen for a cheap thrill.” Tarantino adds, laughing: “It doesn’t mean you’re not guilty about it afterward.”

The horrific scene is horrific because we knew these women — it matters more than all the slaughter in PLANET TERROR — a holocaust that destroys the entire United States, it’s implied. Tarantino’s women approach rounded — Jungle Julia is a bitchy, manipulating diva to her friends, but she’s putty in the hands of Chris Masterson, some guy she’s keep texting who just isn’t that into her and doesn’t even bother to show up to claim his booty–leaving Julia at the mercy of Stuntman Mike.

At the screening I was at, anyway, the audience mirrored my own reaction. The hipster opening night crowd giggled and clapped in shock at PLANET TERROR, but in the second half of DEATH PROOF, they were clapping and cheering constantly as the women fight back. They fight back not out of terror, but out of strength. The lengthy dialogue set-ups are to show why these women make and the first bunch doesn’t: they’re from Stuntman Mike’s world, and in that world, they’re his equals.

This message is discomforting to some. I would never hold a message board discussion on the IMDb forums as resembling anything like intelligence, but some viewers are clearly fed up with Tarantino’s last three (or four depending on how you count Kill Bill) women-centric films:

How come Tarrantino is obsessed with having female hero’s in his movies recently? Jackie Brown, Kill Bill movies, and now Death Proof. Does he not have balls anymore?

And another thing… I know that Tarrantino is known for his great dialogue scenes, but the dialogue scenes in Death Proof were pretty bad.. and I think it had to do with the fact that the big dialogue scenes were between females. Females just aren’t as funny as guys. It’s a fact. All that the women were talking about was blowjobs and *beep* Boring.

Then:

It’s a movie about a guy that terrorizes women, then he moves onto the next set. The fact that these girls didn’t play by the rules (fighting back) is what makes them so different than the first set. Some women are weak, some are not. How is that feminist?

But egalitarianism is not dead.

CableGuy:

Yeah, you seem threatened by women.

And then to the prick below (above me) who got his panties in a twist about QT being described as a feminist:

“Feminist” just means believing in the equal rights of dicks and chicks. Like the civil rights thing.

I gave up reading there, but I can see why these viewers couldn’t relate to these women: they were far too real. While Rodriguez is known for making his women look flawless and hot, Tarantino isn’t so worried about lighting — cellulite is clearly visible in several of the short short butt shots, and to a world raised on airbrushing, that might just come as a shock. Tarantino’s daring mixture of a chick flick and a slasher film is too hardcore for many.

Some hold the opposite view of Tarantino: that he’s really no better than Stuntman Mike, buttering up to women by pretending to listen before slaughtering them in fetishistic glee. (Rasario Dawson offers some corroboration here.) You can see both sides of this in a junket interview with Poitier (Jungle Julia) and Winstead, who plays Lee, the girly-girl.:

Sydney Poitier I think he has a real reverence and respect for women. I think his characters are so fully developed that the sexuality, like she said, was just innate in them. They really own their sexuality. They own their femininity. They re strong, they re confident. They have no issues about their bodies or who they are. I think he has a real appreciation for that and he really treated it really respectfully. One of the first things he said to me when I got the part was he s like, I m going to be doing a lot of leg shots and a lot of butt shots. The camera s going to lovingly caress your body but know that I m a gentleman. And he really, really is, and so you never felt uncomfortable.

You ve gone from low budget Grindhouse to big budget Live Free or Die Hard. How was your experience on that?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead It was great but definitely different from this. On this we were working non-stop. [snip]

Q: Are you in the dangerous scenes or do they CGI you into it?

Mary Elizabeth Winstead Oh well I m not actually in a lot of that danger. I kind of used those examples. I get to throw some punches and I shoot a gun every now and then, but I m not around when most of the big action stuff is going on.

Of course she’s not around — she’s a girl. But in Tarantino’s world, that is no refuge. In an industry where most of the women’s roles are filled by a parade of perky but easily discarded aerobicized and lipo-suctioned cookie cutters, Tarantino has made an action film where women are allowed to be women. Cellulite and all. Unlike the airbrushed, silicon-injected glamazons of the Maxim/WWE era, these women are sexy because they are real — like Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. Winstead’s Lee stands in for the 00’s view of woman, the actress in the bunch, sexually infantized in a cheerleader costume — brains are not her strong point, and she doesn’t get to go on the adventure because she hasn’t paid her dues. Zoe, Kim and Abernathy are the real deal, with real blood, real hopes and real dreams — some of which don’t even involve boys. And that may just be the most terrifying thing of all about DEATH PROOF.

Comments

  1. MBunge says:

    Do you realize how much of your review of DEATH PROOF is about the things you’re bringing to the experience as a viewer, instead of about the actual film? DEATH PROOF is well-made crap. It’s barely even a movie, for pete’s sake. It’s like someone took an episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT and then decided to add a 4th and 5th act on to it.

    Before you award Tarantino some sort of feminist medal, you might want to mediate on the obvious theme of DEATH PROOF. Namely, that while femininity may be something to be appreciated and desired, it is ultimately useless and self-endangering. Feminine = victim. Meanwhile, being macho to the point of stupidity is empowering and admirable. Masculine = hero.

    And don’t even get me started on how Stuntman Mike morphs from being a psycho killer into the pussy cousin of Bo and Luke Duke.

    Now, because Tarantino’s a genius (unlike Rodriquez, who’s just good), you can still find some stuff to enjoy in crap like DEATH PROOF. But taken as a whole, it’s a failure both as a normal film and as what it was trying to be.

    And enough with the feet, Quentin. Whatever you’re into in your personal life is your business. But if you keep this up, you’re going to be to feet what Russ Meyer was to breasts.

    Mike

  2. I never even heard of this movie until today, and now I want to see it, even if only because that’s the Texas Chili Parlor in that fourth picture, there. That and loving Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino; the movie itself sounds fascinating. Go Austin!!! ^o^/ It’s nice to see our film industry becoming more and more recognized; there are a lot of amazing directors, producers, screen writers, cinematographers, etc, who live here, and Austin itself is a fun, laid-back setting for those movies. :)

  3. “Feminine = victim. Meanwhile, being macho to the point of stupidity is empowering and admirable. Masculine = hero.”

    What?

    You are the one assigning those gender roles, not Quentin. On this point you are very wrong.

    The power these women exude comes from their femininity. That includes heroics, courage, and their sexuality.

    None of those qualities are mutually exclusive nor innately masculine or feminine.

    I agree with you on the feet thing, though. Yeesh.

    And Death Proof was not only overly-talky, but the pacing was waaay off.

    But the feminist thing? …That was also present in Rodriguez’s film too, BTW was super-cool.

    Ms.Go

  4. These movies both pose the philosophical question: If you set out to mimic bad movies, and do it really really well, it the result a bad movie? Based on the number of times I checked my watch, wondering how much longer each segment was going to last, I’d say the answer is “yes”. Death Proof was less boring to me, mostly because of the talky parts, but I’m glad I paid matinee price for the both of them.

  5. not for a minute did I find the girls dialogue boring…and not for a minute was I bored with any of the three hours of fun madness.

    Its called grindhouse and I got what iI expected all the way.

    TOTALLY disagree wih brian wood all the way …can see what he is saying and totally would understand if this scene was in another movie…brian, you know both film makers…you knew the title…you might have even seen the origianal films from the past…so what were you expecting?

    this one delivers madness and bad lighting and tarentino once again shows other filmmakers how to keep it all rolling.

    I grew up watching the original fliks in drive ins and this is dead on.

    all the people in these movies are extremes of every character ever written and thats what this is about. extremes. no pretentions anywhere…mutants, car crashes, severed limbs, ect.

    was the car accident over the top? hell yes baby…so were every other single scene of men mutating and exploding and so on. its what was advertised.

    again, this is a movie and not a statment on life…its a story that is about exploitation and it delivers.

    what the hell does anyone expect from these two guys and a movie called grindhouse?

    you expected ” the notebook” here?

    good…then stop acting like that is what you expected. I cant believe anyone would have a problem with anything in this movie so stop all the crying. hate the violence against women? well…they counter balance it with girl power each and every time.

    this was smart, silly, overblown , over the top fun/

    JIMMY PALMIOTTI

  6. Ya, Ace, we helped the Grindhouse production team when they worked on the flick recently up here on the Central Coast. They wrecked one of the trucks they rented from my friend’s dad’s garden and feed store, so they bought him a new truck.

    The movie was filmed pretty quickly and got a theatrical release equally quickly. I guess they literally did just “grind it out.”

    (BTW, best of luck on The Beat’s different online location.)

  7. Anonymous says:

    I must say there was some irony in Planet Terror. Naveen Andrews’ double take during the Bruce “I-killed-Osama” monologue was great. The kid shooting himself in the car was inspired. It also had some good one-liners (and plenty of wonderfully horrible ones). I just love the line where the mom tells the son to shoot anyone coming, “especially if it’s your father.”

    But definitely Deathproof was better, for all the reasons Heidi mentioned. Also, with Tarantino’s film I literally had no idea what would happen next. I haven’t been truly scared for characters in a horror movie in as long as I can remember.

  8. Steve says:

    Oops, didn’t mean for the above to be anonymous.

  9. Rasselas says:

    I found the conversations in Death Proof tedious even as I felt the sympathy that they were intended to elicit. Perhaps I’m too old before my time to find going-lazily-nowhere-but-having-a-good-time table (and car) talk all that excellent — if somebody’s breakfast is going to be circled three or four times, then I would prefer that somebody get punched across the table.

  10. It’s always interesting to read your thoughts on stuff, Heidi. And, I agree, 100%, with Jimmy Palmioti on GRINDHOUSE. It’s corny, ’70s inspired, B-movie shlock. Like half the movies you’ll find in my ever expanding DVD collection.

    I enjoyed the entire 3-hour experience. The Wienstein’s should franchise GRINDHOUSE. Yes, DEATH PROOF was glacial but I needed to chill after Rodriguez’ awesome, PLANET TERROR, and Tarantino brought the action when it was time to dispense with pleasantries. Curiously, I found Rose McGowan to be outrageously charming. Actually, all the women in the movie were great. My only crit is I feel KILL BILL was more “grindhouse” than DEATH PROOF, but, whatever.

  11. Brian Wood says:

    Nice one calling me out, Jimmy.

    No, I didn’t expect “The Notebook and I’m not “crying” over anything. I know what grindhouse is and I liked all of the first film and parts of the second. My beef is with how Tarantino executes most of his films, especially how he depicts women, and to what degree he takes it. I think my posts were clear on that and I stand by my comments.

    I will say that Tarantino probably set off to deliver a grindhouse experience but was thoroughly contemporary with his lighting and camera work, pacing and dialogue. This wasn’t a throwback like Rodriguez’, but just another Tarantino films. That was just as disappointing to me as the misogyny… give me Planet Terror twice in a row, I say.

    That’s all. My two blog posts and comments are up there and I stand by them. I don’t think I need to repeat it all for the benefit of people who were too lazy to read it correctly the first time.

    b

  12. I just have to agree with Dino and jimmy.

    I thought that both RR and QT know what they were doing, and what kind of reactions they would get from this double feature, that without a doubt nails what they were triying to do.. i mean, if it is about B-moves, Z-movies and Explotations movies, what could be then expected from grindhouse?….

    -A

  13. brian…all love and respect as always for you here my friend, just disagree is all. conversation… if we were in the same room, this would be fun, but since its written, it came off angry, which i wasnt at all.

    and yes…reading my post again, its a bit harsh. for that I totally apoligize…I was also reacting to another friends remarks…not so much aimed at you…but again, reading it again, its too harsh and seems totally aimed at you and that was wrong of me.

    that said…and me humbled as i should be, I think tarentino did ” his ” version of groundhouse and it differered from the first movie. I agree with you there. no scratches in the film and what not…and the only real over the top think in it was the actual crash.but i think thats his experience brought to his film.

    still…i actually expected more madness but enjoyed each film like a different flavor of the same type of cake.

    we agree to disagree

    all good and healthy to take different experiences from the same film.
    JIMMY

  14. If I’m reading this viewpoint wrong, I’d love if someone who holds it could correct me, but the arguments for Tarantino being a misoginist all seem to center around the fact that the female characters in his films, while stong and brave, seem to go through alot of shit. And so people think because he films women overcoming bad shit, he must like it when bad shit happens to women, therefore he’s a misogynist. (Am I reading this all wrong? I don’t want to make a strew man of people’s views by misrepresenting them.)

    Anyhow, I don’t quite get this line of reasoning. When I think of a misogyinist, I think of someone who thinks of women either as a: weak, or b: devious. Good women are faithful to your cock alone; women with strength can’t be trusted. Tarantino’s women compete with men on men’s terms, and are never saved by, nor do they need, men. Furthermore, Tarantino’s female characters show great, superhuman strength overcoming the hardships they face, and I can’t picture anyone having the need to qualify their struggles with “Oh gee, I guess she’s doing pretty good, for a woman.” I find it really hard to imagine that a director who hated women would go to such great lengths to test and confirm his heroine’s strength.

    You might say that the sheer severity of the tirals he puts his women through proves that he somehow delights in showing women being hurt. I don’t buy that- I think Tarantino is a violent guy in general, and I think he also likes strong women, and I think he shows women respect by not treating them like delicate little flowers. Tarantino trusts his women characters- he KNOWS they won’t wilt if he puts pressure on them. (Like a real misogynist’s characters would.) This quailing about the women getting hurt- it sounds to me very old fashioned. “It’s dangerous out here, little lady. Why don’t you let the men handle the getting shot and stabbed, and why don’t you go show your strength by doing something safe indoors, like reporgramming a computer?” Can you not show women actually getting hurt in any way without it being hateful to women? Even in battle? Isn’t THAT a pretty sexist attitude?

    “Oh good God, he punched a GIRL!” Yeah, and she got back up and flattened the guy. Isn’t that what feminism is about?

  15. Death Proof was the stronger of the two films. Too often in slasher films the bad guy is a genius or superhuman and the women are there to be killed and we take a thrill from that. But this was a slasher who was weak. Who hurt and killed women because they can’t fight back. And then having them fight back? Awesome.
    The audience expects a typical serial killer with a gimmick flick with only one woman maybe surviving at the end and a “is he still alive?” ending. But they work together as a team and show him up for the weak piece of crap he is and it’s such a satisfying ride for the audience to come along with. The long dialogue scene needed to be there to make them rise above slasher flick stereotypes. It really worked for the audience I was with. “I’m okay!”.
    Also the Edgar Wright “Don’t” trailer was great.

  16. I loved every second of Grindhouse. No complaints what-so-ever. And I didn’t see either story as being bad towards women either.

    And Rivkah, a lot of the movie was shot at Luling, Texas. The Texas Resturant was the Zedler Mill.

    http://millpictures.com/mills/details.cfm?millid=668

    The mill is pretty run down now but the movie folks donated money for a restoration project.

  17. Is it wrong that I’m more excited about the preview for “Hobo with a Shotgun” than I am for both movies? Some guys from my wife’s hometown made that for the SBSW contest Rodreguez held and won the right to get some limited release as one of the previews between the double feature.

  18. Nice wrap up, Heidi!
    But wasn’t it “Chris Simonton,” or “Simonson?” I think there was a joke about them calling him “Christan Science,” or something. Masterson is that actor from “That 70’s Show,” starring the Kutch and future Eddie Brock Topher Grace. Still, as I said, nice wrap up!

  19. I enjoyed all of Grindhouse also, but Death Proof got a stronger reaction out of me and this will be a movie that sticks with me for a long time. When I walked out of the theater I felt like I’d been on some kind of crazy rollercoaster. And I wasn’t bored by the talky stuff in Death Proof because like others have said they make what happens later in the film have more impact (no pun intended).

  20. I think Death Proof is a good movie and definitely the better film although not as much fun as Robert’s. It makes some interesting comments on the genre, has incredible car and stunt work, and a good ending. But the reality is that the first half of the film is punch-yourself-in-the-face boring. So does the good stuff justify the boring stuff? Yes. But barely. The arguments that I’ve heard for the large amount of not-as-clever-as-it-thinks-it-is dialogue are that they make the characters round and make us care about the victims before they are slaughtered. Well, there’s some merit to that but people have been making films for years with rounded characters that we care about without making the audience sit through forty five minutes of blowjob and pot smoking pseudo realistic Austin name dropping girl talk bullshit. I found the film to be good but definitely not great and ultimately pretty disappointing considering what the man’s capable of. The film is extraordinarily indulgent and unfortunately his aesthetic doesn’t work as well here as it does in, say, Kill Bill, which was pushing it in the first place.
    It’s a strange thing because the “fuck everybody else” artist in me applauds Quentin’s apathy for his fan base’s perceptions but that doesn’t change the fact that the talky parts did reach the point of being unbearable for me personally.

    But again the good parts are very good. The stunt work and car crash/chase sequences are amazing and girl power flip of the genre is well executed.

    I also was fortunate enough to have worked on the production which was probably the most fun job I’ll ever have so I have to thank Robert and Quentin for that.

    And thanks to Heidi as well : )

  21. I think that Death Proof was better. Not that I hated Planet Terror or anything, I liked it too, just that I thought DP was better. I agree with Jimmy that the dialogue of the women’s scene were not boring. For me, it was a way with the first set to make them less of nameless victims and make them in characters you care about and in the second setting up some exposition to go with the characterization (IE. that Kim had a gun, that Zoe was, in essence, Death Proof herself.)

    As for the “Tarantino as a feminist argument”. I think the missing reel from his film adds fodder to that. He spends most of the movie up to that point selling the lap dance, doing a hard sell right before it. When it comes to delivering it, “missing reel” (at least in the version I saw). It was similar, yet opposite, to what he intended with the crash. You want to see the crash? I’ll give you the crash, worse than you can imagine. Want to see the hot girl give a sultry lap dance? Well, you’re not going to get it. Think about your wanting to see both those things afterward.

    On a personal note, I love the scene with the shots of Chartruese. Chartruese is a shot my friends and I use as a badge of honor. If you drink it with us, you’re part of the group. And it is horribly foul. Think Aqua Velva with some black pepper mixed in. It’s great.

  22. Actually, scratch that. Chris Masterson is the brother of Danny Masterson from “That 70’s Show.” Chris is the older brother from “Malcolm in the Middle.” Silly me.

  23. Brian Spence says:

    My brother and I saw it this weekend. It was fun, but definitely not one of the best entries in either filmmaker’s library. They wanted it to look like a crappy 70’s flick, and it worked. It looked crappy.

    My bro and I also noted that they never resolved what happened with that girl who was left behind (I don’t think it’s fair to call it a “rape” scene. Nobody knows what happened).

    I don’t know about Tarantino’s “track record of brutality to women.” I just don’t think that Tarantino differentiates women from men in his movies. They’re all on equal footing, and therefore will get treated the same. Who ISN’T brutalized in a QT movie? Overall, I don’t think Quentin makes his women the “poor defenseless” types.

  24. MBunge says:

    DCMovieGirl – “(quoting me)“Feminine = victim. Meanwhile, being macho to the point of stupidity is empowering and admirable. Masculine = hero.”

    What?

    You are the one assigning those gender roles, not Quentin. On this point you are very wrong.

    The power these women exude comes from their femininity. That includes heroics, courage, and their sexuality.

    None of those qualities are mutually exclusive nor innately masculine or feminine.”

    What’s the difference between the first group of girls who get killed and the group that lives, particularly the two who actually battle Stuntman Mike in the car chase? Since when did femininity include hanging by a couple of belts on the hood of a car while it careens down the road at high speed? Or how about chasing after a guy who almost killed you, like you’re living in a video game? That’s feminine? The fact that Tarantino specifically leaves out the most sterotypically feminine character from the big chase only underscores the point he’s trying to make.

    Tarantino proved he could give us a real and powerful woman in JACKIE BROWN. In DEATH PROOF (and KILL BILL), he gave us “powerful” women who’s power was defined in masculine, macho terms. Just like the biological determinism of KILL BILL, DEATH PROOF only looks like there’s any feminism at its heart.

    Mike

  25. Thems who calls it “macho and masculine” are assigning gender roles where others may see none. Jackie Brown showed one kind of powerful woman, sure, but to say that’s the only template for a powerful woman to be is quite limiting. Aggression and a capacity for violence just aren’t male-only traits, and it’s detrimental to believe otherwise.

    This just in: chicks like to punch things too!

  26. “…Since when did femininity include hanging by a couple of belts on the hood of a car while it careens down the road at high speed?”

    Since Zoe Bell, a woman, does that for a living why don’t you ask her? :-)

    As for the first group of girls, we are meant to get to know them and care for them, in all their beauty and flaws.

    We are supposed to want to crash to happen only to feel regret/disgust for it (that’s paraphrasing Mr. Tarentino, himself).

    It’s not pointless interchangeable women, mutilated and murdered for our entertainment. It’s supposed to be provocative.

    That it wasn’t for some, I think is more a failure of Tarentino’s dialogue-writing skills, in this instance.

    Th second group do leave behind the “Hollywood airhead”, symbolically the simplistic character we used to seeing get used, raped, mutilated, and killed in these types of movies.

    Instead we get three women who are despite their differences, strong and feminine in their own ways. They are the ones who do the (metaphorical) raping, beating, and killing.

    And I must add, they were very likable to boot.

  27. Randall Kirby says:

    The grindhouse preview on Spike TV showed clips from lap dance scene in Death Proof, and Stuntman Mike having a fascination with Jungle Julia’s feet.

    So expect those missing reels to be found by the time the DVD is released.

  28. Jamie: Wasn’t part of it shot at The Omelettry, too? I actually live right up the street from there and remember going by once and seeing these HUGE lights all set up in the middle of the night, half the road blocked off, and tons of people milling around . . . and it all being completely silent. It was creepy.

    http://www.texasnationalpress.com/texlog/article.php?story=20070329160725817

  29. Rivkah: It could have been. I doubt the inside of Zedler mill was used for the restaurant. Inside the mill is probably a bunch of wood working tools all strung together so they could run via the river dam. I doubt there was room to set up a bar and tables. Especially the part where Cherry is sitting at a table by the window. That part may have been filmed at The Omelettry, it looked pretty modern.

  30. Rafael Kayanan says:

    …DON’T…

  31. It was filmed at the Omelettery.

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