“If there’s one place I like to go to see my movies, [the Magic Johnson Theater is] the place. A lot of people are into the ArcLight, but I don’t like the rules. I don’t like the fact that you have to sit in assigned seating. That’s the European approach, and I despise that stuff. They’re trying to turn movies into opera. That’s garbage. And you can’t come in late? Hey, my audience is 15 minutes late for everything.”
-Quentin Tarantino in the L.A. Times
I’ve seen The Mack several times, and I knew that The Chinese Mack included footage of a real, vicious dogfight, so I decided to wait for the second double feature of Quentin’s grindhouse festival. I was planning on going out there Wednesday and calling in sick Thursday, but my dog ended up having surgery Wednesday, and I didn’t want to leave her alone that night. She kept me awake most of the night with some kind of wheezy cough (probably a reaction to anaesthesia), so I ended up calling in sick anyway, slept most of the day, then got a Sworkuccino and headed out to The New Beverly, arriving ridiculously early. The 7:30 program didn’t start until almost 8, so if you’re planning on heading out there, be prepared for a long night. I finally ducked out around a quarter to midnight, and it was still going strong. (I might as well have stayed, since I couldn’t sleep for shit on the caffeine I had ingested. I’m pretty exhausted right now.)
Quentin wasn’t there (he had apparantly been there the night before. He may be more available for the April screenings, after he’s done editing Grindhouse), but he sent along some notes for The Guy to read before the show (which eventually resulted in someone in the crowd yelling out “Just show the fucking movie!”). Then the show started with trailers for upcoming events. The Van looks like just about the quintessential 70’s teen comedy. Chinese Hercules does indeed star that huge guy from Enter the Dragon and Big Trouble in Little China, and looks pretty hilarious. There were also trailers for both of Sunday’s features, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Rolling Thunder (really well-done trailer: just shows all the build-up, none of the climactic slaughter). Then, the first half of the Italian Crime Double Feature: Machine Gun McCain.
It’s a pretty cool gangster movie set mostly in Vegas and Frisco. John Cassavettes plays a total badass, which is kind of a weird bit of casting, but he’s pretty convincing. It’s so great to see a movie with a big crowd that’s really into it. You end up laughing and applauding at things that, if you were at home, you would just say “that’s a good line,” or maybe not even notice at all. Nice funky Morricone score–at one point, it sounded a lot like Miles Davis’ "Spanish Key."
Another round of trailers before the second feature, including Italian crime flicks, Las Vegas heist movies, and a few that didn’t seem to be either. It started out with Johnny Cool, which was a pretty insane trailer. Produced by Peter Lawford, featuring Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. (with eyepatch), starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery. There was also some kind of Buddy Crime Comedy with Roger Moore and Stacy Keach (!). I know there was one more that really impressed me, but I can’t remember what.
The second feature, Wipeout! (with the exclamation point), is fucking insane. Just out of it’s god damn mind. Henry Silva is a mob hitman who goes around killing people with a grenade launcher. Like, shooting people in the head with it. There’s some absolutely offensive shit revolving around the kidnapped nymphomaniac daughter of a mafioso. There’s the Italian penchant for making big gestures with your hands taken to EXTREMES. The crowd was just howling over this whole thing. You really had no idea what was going to happen next, because what had happened already was so ridiculous to begin with! God only knows how it may have ended–hopefully, I’ll be able to find out some day. Another great score, too. Lots of distorted guitar and such.
The L.A. Times article is kinda neat, because it focuses a lot on Quentin’s love of L.A., but it just annoys me that they make it out to be some kind of “bad movie festival.” The title is “Tarantino’s Grindhouse Festival celebrates cinematic cheese.” First of all, I wouldn’t use the word “cheesy” to describe these kinds of films, although maybe that’s just my personal definition. But I don’t even think describing them as “deliriously bad films” is correct. OK, some of them are bad, but I we don’t like them because they’re “so bad they’re good.” They’re just fun, often crazy, movies. But whatever, it’s the L.A. Times. Be sure and check the slideshow sidebar where Quentin talks about his favorite places in L.A. That’s where the above quote about the Magic Johnson theater can be found. And also this note about his favorite pancake house: “The best breakfast places are in the beachside towns, and you know it’s a good place if they close after lunch. A great breakfast place is closed before dinner. Uncle Bill’s is a great place. In the script for ‘Reservoir Dogs,’ the first scene takes place there. We didn’t shoot there, though; it was small inside. But that’s where the script said they were.” Interestingly, the place where it was actually shot–Pat and Lorraines, about 2 blocks from my house–is also closed by dinner time. I was pretty annoyed when I moved here by all the places that looked like great all-night coffeeshops (especially Cindy’s on Colorado) that are closed by 8pm!