Why have I not heard more about this movie? I know I work alone and at home, and am therefore a solid candidate for ‘last to know’ status when it comes to everything from the aliens landing to the iceman cometh, but I, you know, read. I read online, I read magazines, I read newspapers, I read books…and somehow Death Proof just passed me by. Was this movie even showing in Australian cinemas? Ever? How did I miss it?!
Luckily Llew brought it home the other night to watch on DVD. We have a projector, so we basically have a big screen at home, and as I have mentioned on this blog in the past, it is the business. I’ll admit that at first I crinkled my nose. Much as I enjoyed them overall, the nonstop graphic violence of Kill Bill I and II really palled my Tarantino enthusiasm, which up until then had always run super high (Pulp Fiction is quite possibly a perfect film, and I loved Jackie Brown). I had reached my violence limit and then some, so given Tarantino’s latest offering is called Death Proof, I thought I was in for another blood-letting extravaganza… Gore isn’t my thing. I don’t find it funny or clever or interesting. I find it troubling. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a TV, but I am fairly sensitive to violence on-screen. I look away, I cover my eyes and ears, and sometimes I even leave the room, never to return.
And there is one scene in Death Proof I’d immediately excise if it were my film. I don’t know why it wasn’t edited out, it’s completely unnecessary. Far from adding something, I think it actually detracts from the impact of what’s just happened. Aside from that thoroughly ghastly scene, I was forced to look away only once more. Two full body flinches in a Tarantino? That’s nothing! It’s nap time at the nursery!
He’s a funny, funny guy. As in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the dialogue alone makes this film great. Some past dialogue even makes a cameo appearance here. The opening scene of Death Proof is awesome, one of the best I’ve seen in way too long. And it’s great for some of Tarantino’s other trademarks: casting a star whose star has waned (in this case Kurt Russell the best I have ever seen him by a mile), a flawless ensemble, and a collection of strong female characters who utterly expose the dumb one dimensionality of Hollywood bellybutton lint like 27 Dresses. Praise be to Quentin, he the man.
Aside from being a hell of a movie, Death Proof scores extra kudos for having excellent extras. This is another thing I love about Tarantino: his boundless wonder and enthusiasm for his medium. He loves movies and everything they entail. It’s incredibly endearing watching him interviewed, and it’s obvious from the on-set footage that I’m not the only one who finds his limitless excitement infectious. He has an uncanny knack for casting, and an incredible ear for idiom, and both boil down, I think, to his genuine curiosity about people, their stories, and their filmic potential. He sees the world through that lens, and it shows in all the best ways. It is impossible not to like the guy, and I love his latest movie.