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07 October 2009

Death Proof

directed by Quentin Tarantino

If you have been living Unabomber style for the past decade and a half, or perhaps you’re one of those militantly anti everything “cool” types, then there is, I suppose, a remote chance that you didn’t catch the sensational double feature Grindhouse, directed by two of the most incredibly gifted and cinematically fluent directors of our generation, Robert Rodriguez and the master of the cult film as art, Quentin Tarantino. If you didn’t, then you need to get your priorities straight, friend, because you missed out on some of the raunchiest and jaw-droppingly entertaining pieces of cinema since Rodriguez’s masterpiece Sin City or Tarantino’s mesmerizing Kill Bill I and II. Like Sergio Leone, Tarantino is so fluent in film as to be considered a freak of the craft, but he, like Leone, embraces his fanaticism and wields it like a master swordsman. Blending genres, films, and even characters into a cohesive and tantalizing whole that is truly greater than the sum of its parts, he manages to bring the cult and pulp to the level of true art. In the case of Death Proof, Tarantino pulls from the vast well of exploitation, driving and horror films to deliver a film that’s almost not even a film, more of an essay on film technique. Dialogue (Tarantino’s forte), sound and color, including using mistakes in both areas as punctuation marks or brush strokes, and some of the most high octane driving sequences ever to be filmed. The plot revolves around Stuntman Mike (a Kurt Russell so perfect it should be illegal), a killer who can only gets his rocks off when he’s vehicularly penetrating his victims. But he picks on the wrong group of young ladies, unleashing a hellfire of scorn and fury. I said it before on my review of White Lightning, a film in which driving pro Buddy Joe Hooker proved his mettle by giving Joseph Sargent a veritable Detroit muscled money shot over the head of Burt Reynolds, that Hooker’s chops are too righteous! His talent behind the wheel is most prevalent in Death Proof, as is Kurt Russell’s ability to be just as awesome as he was in his Carpenter heyday. If there were to be a cult actor Hall of Fame, Russell would undoubtedly be the first inductee. Mr. R, will you come to my next birthday party?

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