Ok, well I was recently reading up on articles regarding Death Proof, and came upon this one which I thought was interesting.
My question is, do you agree? Post your comments.
"QT and his entry Death Proof, on the other hand, failed dramatically in his part of the exercise. In a way, his encyclopoedic knowledge of these films and the set formulas of their respective genres seemed to force his hand, painting his way into a corner, and there a few major problems here. First, it is obvious that he has such a puritanical view of those old films’ production that he sacrifices his good sense and natural instincts as a director, instead becoming subservient to his nostalgic recreation of the worst parts of these films( i.e. long dialogue sequences, meandering plot). I understand that the “real” grindhouse movies didn’t have much action because there was so little money for special effects. However, when someone like Tarantino has already committed himself to a making a movie which is going to be largely dependent on its script, it would seem prudent for him to take that opportunity to really bring us his highest caliber work in the writing department. If he’s decided that we the audience are going to be treated to a strict reconstruction of his favorite style, wouldn’t it make more sense to use it as on opportunity to at least use his natural gifts of stylized dialogue in this setting to elevate to something of more substantive quality?
One would think so, which is why it was quite shocking to see the audience subjected to all of the lame car talk, table talk, and porch talk that was foisted upon us. The diner scene was particularly awful; there is a difference between capturing the conversational nuances in human interaction, and then there is spinning the camera around while people have an insipid girly gabfest in which Quentin lifts everything wholesale from the opening sequence of Reservoir Dogs, only this time squeezing all of the fun and humor out the banter. A suggestion: if you’re going to rip yourself off from one of your earliest movies, it would be best to make sure the dialogue is fresher and more urgent at the risk of your young QT making older QT look like he’s lost that touch.
Also, the two act structure, while an interesting experiment, was an utter catastrophe. It is understandable that he would hate having to pick between two of his favorite old time styles of horror subgenres, the traditional slasher film and the female revenge film(I’m picturing copies of I Dismember Mama and Ms. 45 floating around QT’s disembodied head while the tune, ‘Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind’ plays cheerily in the background). Sadly, he could have had his carnage and eaten it, too. While he might not have been able to plausibly do both in their entirity, he could have somehow done a far better job building a narrative bridge between the two scenarios he loosely and absurdly posits. The problem with the structure as it stands, is that the two tones of these halves are so markedly different, that there is no way for the viewer to feel a satisfactory sense of cohesiveness between them, despite the obvious link of Kurt Russell’s Stuntman Mike character, and frankly, that’s a rather tenuous link at best.
The Mike of the first half is a mean spirited, downright scary mystery man, while the second Mike we see is only a sadist until he begins losing, instead turning into a whimpering sad sack, quivering and cowering in what was originally designed to be a menacing weapon. It is reasonable to a degree that this is an aspect of the plot that probably needs to be played up in an homage to women’s revenge films, as the turning tides of feminist rage are meant to show how deeply flawed and inherently fake and flimsy this masculine guise really is when the misogynist killer begins to get a taste of his own medicine. What I cannot understand, however, is the choice to show him at polar extremes. The logic is flawed if the director believed that the audience would feel a greater catharsis seeing such a man at his most sinister and brutal turning into such a whiny, spineless manchild. Rather than taking that much more joy in the comeuppance, there was a greater sense that the audience felt that it was patently ridiculous to see the pendulum swing so far to the other direction.
Part of the inherent frustration here is that most slasher films contain, from a formulaic standpoint, a bit of the empowering female revenge aspect anyway. With a bit of better storytelling, or structuring, Death Proof would have been better off keeping with the dark, rugged pulp of the first half and leaving one of the original girls to live and seek vengeance for her dead friends; at least in that scenario there would have been an emotional component that would have made sense if the revenge aspect was truly that important. The idea of a slasher film done in this non-conventional manner was an exciting concept, as murdering a string of victims with a car instead of claws or a machete was a fun spin on the traditional concepts that Death Proof is trying to bow to, and for someone who is as intent on adhering this strictly to the tenets of genre movies, QT had to know that he could have covered the female empowerment angle when the ubiquitous “survivor girl” would have dispatched Mike anyway. In fact, this would have been an excellent place to really delve deeply into some of the gender discussions about horror movies that have been increasing so much in recent years, especially considering that many scholars almost uniformly agree that slasher films are extremely Freudian, with the killer’s weapon being representative of the penis. How easy and fun would it have been to see that line of reasoning brought into a slightly subverted slasher film in which the weapon itself(the car) is already a phallic symbol?
This isn’t to say that there weren’t glimmers of hope within this entry; as usual Tarantino’s approach to scoring the film was masterful, and the actual chase scenes in the second act are quite thrilling. The problem is that we don’t get enough of any of the elements(bloody kills/sex/fatal comeuppance) that slasher/revenge fantasy fans have likely come to see, and when coupled with an abrupt and less than savage ending that will amuse some and infuriate others, the audience just doesn’t have enough to get worked up into a bloodthirsty lather over, which is a key factor in the success of these kinds of films."