Posted to Movies at 10:21 AM on Oct 14, 2007
2007. Directed by Quentin Tarantino. Starring Kurt Russell, Sydney Poitier, Rosario Dawson and Vanessa Ferlito.
I once read a review of this film in which somebody suggested that this film would most likely lose its magic on DVD. I couldn't even imagine what the reviewer could possibly have meant by that absurd thought at the time, but it's, sadly, true. There's really not much compelling about Death Proof on the small screen.
Maybe it was kind of a mistake to put this film on DVD at all. It was, after all, part of a double feature. It was realeased back around Easter as the second act of a film called Grindhouse. Grindhouse failed to live up to box office expectations and Death Proof was released on DVD by itself last month, sans funny fake trailers that originally ran between it and the other part of the feature, Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I loved Death Proof when I saw it on opening night in the theater. I loved the worn, abused look of the film, I loved the over-the-top performances of the actors, and I was certain that between the two films, Death Proof was vastly superior in the way it captured an era and a style without ever venturing into parody. I loved the way the plot unfolded in an ambiguous fashion. Most of all, I loved the missing reels.
Approximately thirty minutes of the DVD cut weren't there in the theatrical version. It was a deliberate gimmick, but it worked. What was put back into the DVD is not bad, but it's unnecessary. One of the restored scenes is a mirror of the first twenty minutes of the film. The scene adds no context and it doesn't move the plot forward. It's just...there. And a caption added around halfway through the film almost ruins the whole thing.
Tarantino is known for his dialog and for his ear for the way people really talk to each other, but this film is not exactly the best example of his skill. Poitier's Jungle Julia is like a cartoon character. I've never met a woman who talks like that. I think someone who actually talked like Jungle Julia would be considered either a total weirdo or the owner of an out-of-control ego. Kind of like Q.T. himself. It really struck not only how much of himself it seems he puts into his characters, but also how he might be in real life.
Kurt Russell has always given me the creeps. Always. In any movie I've ever seen with him in it, I've walked away feeling icky. Tarantino really uses Russell's creepiness to its maximum advantage. In the final few minutes, when Russell's character has to face the consequences of a really bad decision, he is enraged, terrified, and kind of brilliant.
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