Death Proof

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Can the fifth film by Tarantino be his first real flop? Cinema admissions need a kick start but Tarantino the director is still firing on all cylinders.

The mistake made with this film is that some have forgotten that the movies Tarantino loves were initially flops themselves. Cult films are so called because they have a loyal following of fans who normally caught a film after its initial run, at the Grindhouse’s Tarantino and Rodriguez initially paid homage to. Another major mistake was splitting the initial Grindhouse programme into two separate entities.

These films may not have worked in America but the UK and France are markets who see the true worth of films that their American cousins may not have appreciated, which perhaps explains why Jerry Lewis’s NUTTY PROFESSOR is so revered by the art house crowd in Paris – a film seen as a self indulgent folly by its director in the US in the same way as the current Tarantino offering.

If you were to ask the everyman on the street to name their favourite directors, the names Hitchcock, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lucas and Kubrick will be mentioned, but accompanying these illustrious names will be Tarantino, one of the few directors as famous as the films he makes. We need look no further than the release of Hitchcock’s favourite film VERTIGO to see a comparison (although many of his illustrious companions films could have been included) between that and the current standing of DEATH PROOF. VERTIGO, now seen as a masterpiece, was a failure at the time which deeply upset Hitchcock as it was a very personal piece. Perhaps the same can be said about Tarantino at the moment. The idea of Grindhouse was no folly – it was a wonderful idea (double bills and trailers were all part of the “experience”) it’s just a shame that the markets that would have supported this vision were left with parts of a jigsaw rather than a whole piece. Still, only time will tell if this film becomes as recognized as some of its illustrious predecessors that initially played to less than full houses. The real marketplace for this film may well lie in the home entertainment marketplace. This is where films like THE BLUES BROTHERS gained a following and made money and have been part of the late night shows (an upmarket version of the Grindhouse) ever since.

For those who don’t know the plot, DEATH PROOF revolves around two separate pairs of voluptuous women who are stalked by a scarred stuntman who uses his “death proof” cars to execute his, literally, murderous plans. The character of Stuntman Mike is one of the great Kurt Russell characters- it’s up there with Snake Plissken. The stunts are first rate and it’s so refreshing to see real stunts performed by real people. The crowd at the preview I attended were on the edge of their seats for that reason. With typical references to great 70’s road films and the obligatory Tarantino foot fetish, this will be a movie that will gain in stature and be bigger than the sum of its two parts. Go and see it on the big screen then fall in love with it via its DVD release.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: A road movie that really does take you on a trip to remember.

4 out of 6 stars

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