Wednesday, September 19, 2007

It's official: In Grindhouse duel, Tarantino wins big

Though it was a bit of a visual overload watching Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" and then Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof" as one movie in "Grindhouse," I loved just about every minute of it.

I also thought at the time, however, that for all his talk about the "grindhouse" aesthetic (which I must admit is still a little murky to me), Tarantino cheated at the game and left Rodriguez more than a little shorthanded.

Don't get me wrong: I thoroughly enjoyed "Planet Terror," even if I could have done without seeing QT's testicles melt. But it was pure schlock, and unapologetically so.

With "Death Proof," however, Tarantino simply started with the premise of making a '70s car movie but then made it completely his own. I realize many people found the dialogue of Jungle Julia (Sydney Tamiia Poiter), Zoe Bell and their two sets of gal-pals to be more than a bit contrived, but it worked for me, and the ending car-chase is worth the price of admission alone.

And now, with "Death Proof" getting a snazzy, extended, stand-alone release on DVD this week, I have to wonder if these guys are even talking any more. Granted, "Planet Terror" will gets own chance, appropriately enough, closer to "Halloween," but it definitely looks like - to put it as crudely as possible - sloppy seconds.

If you spring for the "Death Proof" set (which I'm about 70 percent or so sure I will), here are some of the extras you'll get:

The so-called "missing reel," containing Vanessa Ferlito's unseen lap-dance for Killer Mike, plus the following featurettes: "Finding Quentin's Gals," "The Guys of Death Proof," "Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike," "Introducing Zoe Bell" and "Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke."

I suppose for purity's sake we should hold out for the full "Grindhouse" flick on DVD (and in case anyone was wondering, none of the fake trailers are set to appear on this release, or on "Planet Terror"), but I'm still just a sucker for QT. What do you think?

Jesse Eisenberg a big star?

The most interesting thing I could find in this morning's rather yawnworthy trades was buried under the news that Ryan Reynolds had joined the cast of Greg Mottola's "Adventureland." Since he's never seemed to be anything but dim to me, especially in the thoroughly annoying "Smokin' Aces," that just said meh.

But reading behind the lines, to find something I had apparently missed, made it much better news. Though Reynolds will indeed get a big part in the 2009 summer flick, the lead will be none other than Jesse Eisenberg, aka Walt Berkman. That's at least how I'll always know him, as Noah Baumbach's alter-ego in one of my favorite flicks of the past five years or so, "The Squid and the Whale."

I haven't seen him in anything since, so this is welcome news. Mottola, a card-holding member of the Apatow mob, directed this summer's funniest movie, "Superbad," so the semi-autobiographical "Adventureland" should be a lot of fun.

Set in 1987, it stars Eisenberg as a recent college graduate who has to cancel his plans to tour Europe and instead take a job at the titular (New Jersey, I think) theme park. Reynolds will play (and this is definitely more fitting to his rather annoying persona) an aspiring rock star and the icon of cool to all the kids working at the park. Kristen Stewart, who's grown up more than a bit since being menaced with Jodie Foster in "Panic Room," will play the romantic lead, a tomboy who also works at the park.

That's a lot of words about a movie not coming out for almost two years, I concede, but I really like Jesse Eisenberg, so I wanted to pass that along to anyone else who might have missed it. Peace out.


* (asterisk) said...

QT was on Jonathan Ross's talk show here in the UK last week, promoting Death Proof, which gets released alone here. But he did talk about how the Grindhouse experiment didn't work well in the US, and he also wore his QT/RR T-shirt -- y'know, the one in the AC/DC styling. Here's a clip, but not of any of the good bits, sadly: Clicky please!

Bob said...

Count me as one who was not a fan of the dialogue or characters in "Death Proof." But I'm with you on the last half hour. Just amazing. All in all though I prefer "Planet Terror" because it's just more fun. I'm not buying anything though until they release the trailers. "Don't" and "Thanksgiving" were the best part of the movie for me. And "Werewolf Women of the SS" may be the greatest title of all-time. Other than "Pootie Tang" that is :)

Reel Fanatic said...

I thought the phony trailers were pretty fun too, Bob, but my favorite would have to be for a more that Rodriguez is at least still threatening to make for real, "Machete" with the very bad Danny Trejo

Fletch said...

That's highway robbery if neither of the individually packaged (yet still deluxe edition) DVDs don't have the trailers on them. What a crock. Though I could give or take Planet Terror, I'll have to wait for the grouped DVD to get the full experience.

Though Terror had its moments, I thought Death Proof was the far superior film. Though, as much fun as the last half hour was, I was practically screaming at the screen for some of the stupid moments during it ("Now's your time to let go of the car!! Shoot him!!", etc).

Mercurie said...

Personally, I preferred Planet Terror to Death Proof myself. My problem with Death Proof is that I thought Tarentino was just a bit too talky. I still enjoyed it, but I would have appreciated more action and less talk.

Of course, what I really want to see a Grindhouse DVD, with both movies together as they were in the theatre!

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm beginning to hesitate about buying this now that I think more about it, Mercurie .. I loved "Death Proof," but can there really be any way they're not gonna eventually release the whole mess together? I suspect it will come by Christmas, so maybe I should just hold out until then

* (asterisk) said...

RF: I've been holding out on buying the Kill Bill films by the same token, but it's proving a looooong wait. But I refuse to buy vanilla releases, having been stung so many times in the past. I'm waiting on Zodiac, too, since Fincher always does such good DVD sets after a few months or so!

Nell Minow said...

Eisenberg is excellent in "The Hunting Party" with Richard Gere and Terrence Howard. It opens here this weekend, so you should be getting it soon.

Reel Fanatic said...

Thanks for the tip, Nell ... I've heard rumblings about that one for some time now, so I hope you're right and it plays wide enough to reach me