Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Death Proof

Death Proof; Drama/ Action, USA, 2007; D: Quentin Tarantino, S: Vanessa Ferlito, Jordan Ladd, Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Rosario Dawson, Tracie Thoms, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Zoƫ Bell, Kurt Russell

Texas. Three girls - Arlene, Shanna and DJ Jungle Julia - are driving a car and heading towards a lake. They stop for a drink at a Bar and meet up with some of the boys. They also meet Stuntman Mike, a scarred, middle-aged stunt double, who takes the blond Pam for a trip home - and kills her. He then goes on to smash directly with his "death proof" car into the car with Arlene, Shanna and Julia. The girls die, but he survives. 14 months later, Mike is spying on four other girls: Lee, Abernathy, Kim and stunt girl Zoe. As the last three girls were test driving a car they planned to buy, Mike crashes several times into them, but they survive and shoot and wound him. Then they go on to hunt him, killing him.

"Death Proof", the second of the unusual double feature "Grindhouse" films, is a good little art- trash film that was praised to the heavens by some just because it's was directed by Quentin Tarantino. For one, if it weren't for one little scene where the character Kim shoots at Stuntman Mike, this would have been the first Tarantino film entirely without guns: in an refreshing departure from his usual themes and elements, the story presents a murderer who kills his victims without guns or knives, just with his car, which is rather creative. Also, it seems the story presented a "feminist Tarantino" since 8 out of the 9 leading characters are girls, while just one is a man, which is even more refreshing. 90 % of the film is shot as a straight forward girl-talk story, while only 10 % are actually containing action thriller elements, mostly in the finale of the two stories, and the way Tarantino has a secret sense for woman's mentality is cute (for instance, in one sequence Jungle Julia, Arlene and Shanna are driving a car and loudly cheering when ever they pass by a giant poster of Jungle Julia by the road).

And the humor is rather amusing (in one scene, the girls are frightened by Stuntman Mike's scary car, and he replies: "Yeah, sorry about that...it's my mom's car"). The finale of the first story ends with Mike crashing deliberately with the car of the four girls, killing them in a brutal, exploitative sequence that was repeated four times to show the death of each girl. Ironically, the second story works almost as an inversion, a version of the old saying "what goes around comes around" since there Mike meets another four girls, but this time they become the hunters, and he the victim. It's a cheap revenge story that ends so abruptly that one feels a little bit stupid, the famous Tarantino dialogues have been watered down and lost their spark, while the much praised "best car chase sequence of all time" is just OK, just a child's play compared to the brilliant one in "The Blues Brothers". "Death Proof" is interesting, but it's not "Flaw proof".


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