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Roger Ebert finally reviewed GRINDHOUSE


#1

[quote]Quentin Tarantino’s “Death Proof” and Robert Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” play as if “Night of the Living Dead” and “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” were combined on a double bill under the parentage of the dark sperm of vengeance.



Together the two separate feature-length stories combine into “Grindhouse,” a deliberate attempt by the two directors to re-create the experience of a double feature in a sleazy B-house. Scratches and blemishes mar the prints, frames or even whole reels are purportedly missing, and the characters have the shallow simplicity of action figures entirely at the disposal of special effects. They are separated by a group of four trailers for still more B-minus pictures.



This evocation of a grindhouse may have existed somewhere, sometime, but my movie-going reaches back to before either director was born, and I have never witnessed a double bill and supporting program much like the one they have created. No, not even in half-forgotten Chicago theaters like the McVickers, Roosevelt, Shangri-La, Monroe, Loop or Parkway. Not even while trying specifically to find “Dog of the Week” candidates for Spot the Wonder Dog to bark at. And it must be said that when it comes to fabricating bad movies, Rodriguez and Tarantino have a failure of will. To paraphrase Manny Farber, you can catch them trying to shove art up into the crevices of dreck.



I can imagine the pitch meeting at which the two directors told Harvey and Bob Weinstein why they had to make this double-header. In that room were the most skilled conversational motormouths I’ve met, and I mean that as a compliment. If Tarantino tells you about the last time he ate an Italian beef sandwich, you want to film it in 70mm. But let’s face it. The fundamental reason young males went to schlock double features in the golden age was in the hope of seeing breasts, or, lacking that, stuff blowed up real good. Now that the mainstream is showing lots of breasts and real big explosions, there is no longer a market for bad movies showing the same thing.



I recall a luncheon at Cannes thrown by the beloved schlockmeister Sam Arkoff of American-International Pictures. “Sam!” said Rex Reed, after seeing Arkoff’s new film “Q,” about a Quetzlcoatl that swooped down on Wall Street to gobble up stockbrokers. “What a surprise! Right in the middle of all that schlock, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!” Arkoff blushed modestly. “The schlock was my idea,” he said.



So, OK, “Grindhouse” is an attempt to re-create a double feature that never existed for an audience that no longer exists. What’s the good news? Tarantino’s “Death Proof,” which I liked better, splits into two halves involving quartets of women, most of them lesbians, who are targeted by Stunt Man Mike (Kurt Russell) who uses his “death proof” car as a murder weapon. The movie ends with a skillful scene involving a deadly highway game and a duel between two cars. That and another highway massacre are punctuated by long, too long, passages of bar-room dialogue. The movie has two speeds --Pause and Overdrive.



Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” recycles the durable “Living Dead” formula: A band of the healthy fight off shuffling bands of zombies. I have written before about my weariness with zombies, who as characters are sadly limited. What distinguishes Rodriguez’s picture is the extraordinary skill of the makeup, showing us oozing wounds, exploding organs and biological horrors. The movie wants to be as repulsive and nauseating as possible. The plot, involving go-go dancers and an action-packed doctor, is a clothesline for gore, explosions, bodily mayhem and juicy innards on parade.



Both directors are eager to work in as many references as possible, verbal and visual, to their favorite movies; Russ Meyer seems quoted a lot. The backgrounds are papered with more vintage movie posters than you’d expect to find in a Texas saloon, except maybe in Austin. There are also various cultural references. For example, local disc jockey Jungle Julia’s listeners recite lines from “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” but you would be wrong to think that is a reference to a poem by Robert Frost. No, according to IMDb.com, it refers to Don Siegel’s thriller “Telefon” (1977), where the words were “used as a posthypnotic signal to activate Russian sleeper agents.”



“Grindhouse” is both impressive and disappointing. From a technical and craft point of view it is first-rate; from its standing in the canon of the two directors, it is minor. And I wonder what the point is when two of Tarantino’s women are obsessed with “Vanishing Point” (1971), a movie Tarantino obviously treasures. It explains the appearance in the movie of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, but is an explanation really necessary? Hell, I had a '57 Studebaker Golden Hawk, and it spoke for itself. We feel like the dialogue is movie-buff jargon overheard in a Park City saloon.



My own field of expertise in this genre is the cinema of Russ Meyer, and I was happy to see QT’s closing homage to the tough girls and the beaten stud in “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965), which John Waters has named as the greatest film of all time. One heroine even copies Tura Satana’s leather gloves, boots and ponytail. I may have spotted, indeed, the most obscure quotation from Meyer. In an opening montage of his “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” (1970), there is a brief, inexplicable shot of a boot crushing an egg. Rodriguez uses the same composition to show a boot crushing a testicle. So the Cinema marches on.



After failing in theaters as a double bill, “Grindhouse” was split by the Weinsteins into two shorter films. The Tarantino, then lengthened by the director, played at Cannes, where Harvey Weinstein admitted at a press conference that, for daring to release the combined films at a running time of three hours, he received a “public spanking.” Now that might have made a movie.[/quote]


He gives it two and a half star. What's interesting: I've never thought of the DEATH PROOF girls as lesbians. Ebert is a grumpy old man, and very ill. So eventually I liked his review.

#2

I think it’s a very good review. The “Pause and Overdrive” comment was spot on.


#3

"If Tarantino tells you about the last time he ate an Italian beef sandwich, you want to film it in 70mm"



ROTFL!!



Now the girls in DP are lesbians? WTF?! Cmon Rodge! Thats a bit off.



Abby has a ponytail in DP but Tura Satana doesnt have one in Faster Pussycat.



When does Mikes testicle get crushed? Does he mean that shot of Arlenes foot in his crotch during the lapdance?



Oh well. Rodge isnt well and hes trying.


#4

[quote=“PutneySwope”]
"If Tarantino tells you about the last time he ate an Italian beef sandwich, you want to film it in 70mm"



ROTFL!!



Now the girls in DP are lesbians? WTF?! Cmon Rodge! Thats a bit off.



Abby has a ponytail in DP but Tura Satana doesnt have one in Faster Pussycat.



When does Mikes testicle get crushed? Does he mean that shot of Arlenes foot in his crotch during the lapdance?



Oh well. Rodge isnt well and hes trying.


[/quote]

He’s not talking about Mike’s testicles in Death Proof. He’s talking about Planet Terror when Abby steps on the testicle on the ground.


#5

Oops, I mustve misread it.


#6

Note that he gave two and a half stars to Grindhouse not Death Proof, and he said he liked Death Proof more than Planet Terror. Meaning that as a stand alone movie, he probably would have given DP something like 3 stars.


#7

"After failing in theaters as a double bill, ‘Grindhouse’ was split by the Weinsteins into two shorter films."



Now while this is technically correct (timeline), this sentence again suggests that the split of Grindhouse is DUE TO the failure at the box office, which is WRONG. Contrary to popular belief, the split outside of the UK and US was decided long before the US release.



I disagree about the dialogue being too long, and the pacing (he calles it “Pause and Overdrive”) worked perfectly for me.


#8

can’t emphasize this enough, but watching it more than 5 times on one weekend, having helluva lot of fun, I don’t take people too serious who give it 2 and a half stars. what’s the criteria this is measured against? dr zhivago?



i’ll be watching death proof tomorrow evening and i’ll dedicate the evening to roger “two and a half testicles” ebert :wink:


#9

Oh come on guys. You know you were all sucking Ebert’s dick when he gave blazing reviews to Pulp, Jackie and Kill Bill. :wink: Now he’s suddenly a critic who has lost it?



I actually love reading Ebert’s reviews, even when I don’t agree with them. I find them fun and his arguments are for the most part well thought out.


#10

I give that review 1 and a half testicles hangin way down!


#11

This part: “Grindhouse” is both impressive and disappointing. From a technical and craft point of view it is first-rate; from its standing in the canon of the two directors, it is minor. And I wonder what the point is when two of Tarantino’s women are obsessed with “Vanishing Point” (1971), a movie Tarantino obviously treasures. It explains the appearance in the movie of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, but is an explanation really necessary? Hell, I had a '57 Studebaker Golden Hawk, and it spoke for itself. We feel like the dialogue is movie-buff jargon overheard in a Park City saloon."



…is a fucking rant. If that fuck knew anything he’d be making movies and not criticizing them. What skills do you really need to sit your fat-ass in a chair and watch a movie? The 1970 Challenger’s explanation was necessary as it was intended to separate it’s appearance from The Dukes of Hazzard or Meet Joe Dirt. In summary, I give it four testicles…the two connected to the large penis that is nailing his stupid ass and his shriveled up pair that have absolutely no purpose whatsoever.



go ahead Scarface…make my day.


#12

Lets not be too hard on Rodge. I like him for the most part, hes always been very good to QT actually.



Critics cant make movies, thats why they stay critics. Actually Roger wrote a few film scripts with Russ Meyer, so he has been part of that world too. Take the stuff he says with a grain of salt. No need to start pissing on his head for a few little negative pokes.



Also The Dukes of Hazzard was a Dodge Charger (like Mikes in the second half) not a Challenger. Not sure about the one in Joe Dirt. I never really bothered to watch it.



Vanishing Point is referenced twice really. The whole Jungle Julia DJ-radio show/Butterfly substory is QTs little spin on the Kowalski/Super Soul storyline from VP.


#13

charger, challenger…same mopar bullshit to me.


#14

I pretty much agree with Rogde. While I like the movie in some ways I was let down too. I guess I expected too much. When one makes a movie that mirrors bad movies you have to like bad movies to love DP. I like to watch these bad movies to laugh at them but I didnt want to laugh at how bad some parts of DP was/is. The Pick of Destiny had a better car chase and the second half had the worst dialogue Ive heard in a long time. I guess you have to be a fanboi to not be able to find any faults with this one. Fanbois


#15

[quote=“Kilgore Trout”]


go ahead Scarface…make my day.




[/quote]

I have better things to do.


#16

[quote=“Scarface”]
I have better things to do.
[/quote]
I was just installing some pickups in a guitar that are called “dirty harry”…I had that slogan in mind when I wrote that.


#17

[quote=“Scarface”]
Note that he gave two and a half stars to Grindhouse not Death Proof, and he said he liked Death Proof more than Planet Terror. Meaning that as a stand alone movie, he probably would have given DP something like 3 stars.
[/quote]

His official ratings are:



Grindhouse 2 1/2 stars (thumbs down)

Planet Terror 2 stars (thumbs down)

Death Proof 3 stars (thumbs up)


#18

[quote=“Knoxville Kingpin”]
The Pick of Destiny had a better car chase
[/quote]

Damn. You really think so? Man… alright. I guess you’re entitled to your opinion.


#19

[quote=“Bowl O Rice”]
Damn. You really think so? Man… alright. I guess you’re entitled to your opinion.
[/quote]

It was a pretty kick ass car chase man. The way they jump that ramp and the car flips through the air. And no one can bitch that it was CGI. In DP there was not hardly any car stunts in the last car chase. (See below for more details) It was simply one car following another. Thats not very exciting to me and I dont see why people say it was sooooooo awesome. Can anyone point out what made it special and far better than any other car chase? The ending was sick for sure. White Lightning has a way better car chase if you ask me. Seeing Burt standing there as the police car sails over his head is just the best and unexpected!



Sidenote: The Marine had a car chase that was much better with no CGI involved.



Im not saying either (POD or T Marine, WRESTLING!) was a better movie but to me there was nothing awesome about the car chase in DP. It had a girl on the hood instead of a guy. Nice twist I guess. TJ hooker rode a hood in every tv episode so I find it rather cliche and boring. The car drove through a movie sign too. On TJ Hooker it was always some boxes stacked up precariously on the sidewalk. Now thats how its done damn it! And where the hell were the moving guys, carrying something across the road ( like a pane of glass) for the cars to crash thru? Thats just fuckin standard in any car chase. QT simply got lazy! DP is like an Episode of TJ Hooker with a bit of blood thrown in and no Shatner, no pane of glass and no boxes! I think Shatner should sue QT for ripping off his show and doing a shitty job of it as well! Couldnt they afford to get Shatner to ride the hood? What a JIP!





Perhaps QT can go back latter and CGI in some boxes and some moving men and maybe even add a CGI Shatner. Kick ass!


#20

Knowxvill, shut up and go watch som Michael Gay movies