Tarantino's Class Carries Plotless Flick
Sunday November 4, 2007
DEATH PROOFRated: MAStarring: Kurt Russell, Rosario Dawson, Zoe Bell, Sydney Tamiia Poitier.Critic's warning: Language, violence, sexual references.Critic's rating: 7/10ALTHOUGH writer-director Quentin Tarantino's approach is maybe growing a little too familiar, there is still no one in Hollywood who has the same exuberant and playful appreciation of words, bad movies and trashy American pop culture references.Tarantino earned a lifetime's kudos for maybe the shrewdest directing debut since Citizen Kane, and definitely the best use of a low budget, with his witty, inventive Reservoir Dogs.His last project, the two-volume Kill Bill, was self indulgent (and should have been one movie). So it is ironic that his latest, Death Proof, started life as one half of a lengthy double bill and homage to 1970s slasher movies and low-budget car flicks. Bad reviews have led to the other half, Robert Rodriguez's feature Planet Terror, being dropped from Australian release. We won't give away what little there is of Death Proof's plot. It's enough to say that four girls go out drinking at their local bar. They meet various eccentric characters, including Tarantino himself, in one of his notoriously wooden acting contributions. One customer, a scarred stranger called Stuntman Mike (Russell), has sinister intentions. Cue souped-up muscle cars, some hard-core gore and truly eye-catching chases and crashes (with spectacular use of real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell). These confirm what you always suspected: Tarantino is a great action director.While US cinemagoers justifiably sneer at the concept of spending millions to re-create flicks, Death Proof is much more than a remake - it's a reinvention. You never doubt this was made by a contemporary filmmaker; note the sly humour (especially in the deliberately dodgy editing and camera work) and the way that the scantily clad and foxy heroines are never patronised. Tarantino's characters all tend to speak the same and a lack of vulnerability means they are never truly real. But they are feisty and funny. You can feel Tarantino likes his characters, which gives his movies more warmth and emotional connection than maybe they deserve. Plus, his soundtrack, as always, is terrific.
© 2007 Sun Herald