What Really Grinds My Gears…

The ManGrindhouse PosterStuntman Mike in Grindhouse

Having seen, or more appropriately, experienced, Quentin Tarantino’s new film, Grindhouse, this evening, I feel compelled to express some of my reactions.  As is the case with all of Tarantino’s pictures, this one is incredibly and impressively original and highly memorable.  It was also shockingly graphic, disturbing and a film that should do very well both at the box-office as well as in the movie-goer’s “classic” collection so long as it doesn’t get reviewed as too niche. 

To begin, a grindhouse film is a flic that is, or perhaps historically was, developed in a low budget manner for low-budget cinemas and for low-budget people.  I can only assume Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez nailed the style of the particular “genre” and, thus, it’s also about gore, extravagent action and horror and is generally meant to shock, appeal and “move” its audience in a sensationalized manner.  Wikipedia describes it as a sensationalistic and exploitational type film–clearly a hallmark of Tarantino’s flics on repeat occasions. 

In fairness, the disturbing factor of this piece was largely provided  by Robert Rodriguez’s first film in the double feature, Planet Terror.  I can not recall feeling quite so, awe-struck, for lack of a better term, by a film as I was that piece.  It was appalingly gorey, totally shocking and an extravagent piece that will almost certainly imbed itself in my conscious for a long while.  I hadn’t heard of Rodriguez before this piece, but now realizing that he’s attributed as a director, editor and producer to flics including Sin City and From Dusk Till Dawn, I’ll certainly be paying more attention to him and his works in the future. 

The interlude to the two features included a couple of rather appaling trailers that I’ve been told are capable of being considered for films unto themselves.  I’m frankly just surprised that they didn’t more squarely press the issue of the entire Grindhouse film netting an NC-17 rating if Planet Terror didn’t warrant such consideration on its own. 

While Rose McGowan, Freddie Rodriguez (who I used to love in Six Feet Under on HBO), cameos by Fergie and Bruce Willis and the whole feel of Planet Terror, were all fantastic, I personally preferred Tarantino’s direct contribution, Death Proof.  This particular piece, which included some classic Tarantino dialogue especially courtesy of Sidney Poitier’s gorgeous daughter, Sydney, and Kurt Russell, was highly entertainting and equally “edge of the seat” worthy without nearly the gore.  The car-chase action sequence is both cool and classicly Tarantino although, if I had one complaint about the piece, it would be the length of the scene.  The dialogue around the breakfast table also dragged a bit and could have likely been dropped by a few minutes or so. 

I’m not sure if it will be this way for everyone but I should also mention that I enjoyed the interactive nature of the viewing experience with this film.  I can’t remember being in a theater where the crowd was so lively–it laughed continuously, gaged and gooed at the frequent outlandish scenes and applauded in a variety of scenes.

In sum, I found Grindhouse to be generally brilliant and highly memorable.  I can  comfortably say it’s one of the most unique pieces I’ve ever seen and, as most Tarantino flics successfully accomplish, leaves an indelible mark in one’s mind for its intelligence and creativity.  I can also feel good in saying that I’ll only be recommending it to those people I know who can comfortably handle a ton of gore, suspense and general shockingness–this film is not for younger people or those with weak stomachs.   

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