Monday, June 3, 2013

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Death Proof


When you think about Quentin Tarantino's filmography, "Death Proof" is probably the last film that comes to mind. Even Tarantino himself has declared it his worst film to date. With all of this baggage, it's obvious that I came into the film with much apprehension. Indeed, I was initially ready to dismiss the film, but I eventually warmed up to it.
"Death Proof" is Tarantino at his most verbose, but unfortunately, he doesn't actually have anything meaningful to say in this instance. The plot here is simple - a madman is hellbent on using his "death proof" car to murder two groups of women. We aren't given any reasoning for this behaviour and its seems like these women are just random victims. As a result, the film does feel slightly gratuitous and off-putting, especially in the first half. The pair of attacks actually take up minimal screen time and in the interim we are subjected to mundane conversations between the unwitting women. These conversations have no bearing on the plot and it was a miracle that I managed to remain engaged. There's just something about Tarantino that produces interesting performances out of his actors, even when the dialogue is pointless.
As the first half comes to a violent close, my appreciation began to wane however. It started to feel like Tarantino was visualizing an undeveloped sick fantasy and forced it upon us. He does come cool things with the cinematography, but the plot left a lot to be desired. Thankfully, the film takes a surprising and interesting turn as we meet our second set of women. The setup is similar, but the payoff is quite different. Without going into details I'll simply say that it's one of the most cathartic, thrilling endings that I have ever seen. Based on this alone, I was willing to forgive any screenwriting shortcomings that preceded it.
In the end, it was certainly far from Tarantino's best but I found it to be worthwhile viewing. If this is Tarantino's worst film then it's obvious that this man is a great filmmaker.

9 comments:

  1. I saw this in the theater when it released as a double feature with Planet Terror, and the fake trailers which eventually spawned actual movies (Machete, Hobo with a Shotgun, etc.). Taken all together I remember really enjoying it, but I believe each film was edited a bit to run together in a shorter amount of time. I really should watch both movies and see if they hold up on their own.

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    1. I actually haven't seen Planet Terror, maybe I should check it out. Thanks for the comment! :)

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  2. I'm pretty much with you on Death Proof, especially the last act. I remember coming out of the theater and being thrilled and then really feeling the length at the start when I watched it again. Even so, I still think it's a good movie. It is his least successful movie (if you ignore Four Rooms), but it's still enjoyable by the end. It also has a good soundtrack.

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    1. It's enjoyable indeed. The ending really saved it.

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  3. Listen, this film is awesome. I was thorougly entertained. Underrated if you ask me! Nice review.

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    1. Definitely an underrated film. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. In the context of the movie Grindhouse. I enjoyed this a lot more then the full length version. Some of the deleted moments were ok, but
    I could have done without them. Agree with you 100 % about Taratino being a great filmmaker.

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  5. Your kicker pretty much says it all. I'd probably consider Death Proof QT's weakest film as well, but I still absolutely love it. Man knows how to craft a flick.

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