Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Death Proof

I thought Tarantino could write, but now I'm not so sure. 'Death Proof' the 'Fifth Movie by QuentinTarantino' (as the poster proudly proclaims) is a movie of two halves, both of them dull.
Stuntman Mike, a grizzled veteran of Old Hollywood, gets his sadistic kicks from running beautiful young women (of which there seem to be carloads in this otherwise deserted part of America) off the road. The first half shows him successful, the second has him meet his match. Despite good talent on show (and in skimpy skirts and shorts, the victims are on show), there is little story here, and the dialogue that usually is Tarantino's strength, lets him down here. Maybe it's because he's writing for so many women, or rather his version of women. It is ironic that the first movie in years to feature meaty roles for a multitude of women, treats them as so much meat. The only entertainment supplied is a violent climactic car chase. Even here the violence feels vindictive rather than an expression of some sort of justice. The girls who give chase to the murderous stuntman do not know of his earlier activities, chasing for the attempt he has made on them. Rather than turn to the cops (sure why would they do that?) they opt after only a moment's reflection to 'kill the bastard'. Again and again Michael Reeves' wise words about cinematic violence came back to me; to celebrate violence in film is immoral. This isn't the Road Runner here. The initial car killing replays not once but three times so the audience can glory in each girl's realistically gory death. This is not something I get a kick out of, and presumably anyone who would would get on pretty well with Stuntman Mike.
In case you're out there sneering at lily-livered O'Leary and his allergy to gore, let me remind you that I am no stranger to and no enemy of onscreen violence. I've watched my 'Evil Dead', the 'Living Dead, the 'Undead Dead'. I've laughed at a baby in a liquidiser scene in 'Braindead' (the evil mutant offspring of a zombie priest and nun). These were Road Runner movies, or where more serious had a serious intent to their nastiness. 'Death Proof' for all its faux 70s look, is situated in a recognisable world with recognisable people. This isn't a cartoon. Yet there is no serious intent; all is superficial. Instead what we have is a shallow, misogynistic piece of cinematic vomit.
It is a shame that this movie was separated from the double-feature, 'Grindhouse' format it originally shared with Robert Rodriguez's 'Planet Terror'. Judging from the trailer for that other movie, shown before this, it looked a lot more fun. Also 'Death Proof' was a lot shorter as part of that package, while this incarnation is badly in need of a shearing. One way or the other it is the nadir of Tarantino's relatively short career. He's going to have to grow up a lot more before garnering again the acclaim he once commanded so easily.

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At 8:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the movie yet. Your review is probably the last I will read from a long line of reviews all complaining about similar things: What's the point? Where's all the sophistication of previous movies gone? Where's the cool? What's with the violence? etc etc ... I have no interest in this movie and an ever growing disinterest in Tarantino.

At 8:30 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Niall, last comment was by me! Phil.

At 5:24 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

niall get a photo of yourself up on myspace pronto you are making both mine and philip's look shoddy, nig


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