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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Movie Reviews

I didn't have time to post my Grindhouse review, but it seems fitting that I review it with Hot Fuzz. Both are something of a post-modern homage, but as you will see, one is more successful than the other. I'm going to review both films separately from Grindhouse.

R-had this been a small indie-film you'd be looking at NC-17.
The Films:
Planet Terror
* 1/2
I just realized that I haven't liked anything Rodriguez has ever done. El Mariachi was cool, but I've pretty much disliked everything sense, including falling asleep during the vastly overrated Sin City. This falls into the Snakes on a Plane category of films that aren't awful enough to be fun, and not decent enough to be good. The film sets up a pretty cool atmosphere at the start, but the plot actually seems to get in the way. The use of a missing reel, which BTW hardly ever happened in Grind House cinemas, is used as a deus ex machina here, sparing us the entire 2nd act, but the film still goes way too long. Someone could write a pretty good essay on Rodriguez and male genitalia. Sin City had several castration scenes, and this has even more, making me wonder about him on a few psychological levels. 2/3 of the way in this goes from a variation, a sort of homage to the alien-horror/action films of the 80's more than anything else, to something more along the lines of the Scary Movie franchise. The failure to decide how much of the film is homage, and how much is parody is what shoots Planet Terror in the foot. And btw, you have seen all the cool parts in the trailer.

Speaking of the trailers, the trailers were a bit of a let down. Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS had an Udo Kier cameo, which gives it some extra props, and Edgar Wright's was great, but Eli Roth goes way overboard with his Thanksgiving. How this didn't get the film an NC-17 is beyond me.

Death Proof
* * *
In a strange way this could be one of the most original things Tarantino has ever done. This isn't so much a parody, or an homage, but a jazz like variation on the slasher, and car chase sub-genres. There are some great moments in this film, but like some of Tarantino's pictures, it suffocates in its own self-indulgence, though it never feels like it gets out of control. Kurt Russell is really good as a rather complicated sociopath, and there are some cool things done with some of the characters, and some great Tarantino dialogue.

Hot Fuzz
* * * 1/2
R for a few grisly death scenes
Shaun of the Dead was one of the most consistently entertaining films I've ever seen. A high-octane hybrid of various genres, texts, all with original, 3-Dimensional characters. Hot Fuzz proves Shaun was no fluke. What is the difference between director Edgar Wright and directors like Rodriguez or to some extentTarrantino? He develops and loves his characters. Hot Fuzz starts off a little slow, but unlike Planet Terror, which gets slow because it gets too carried away in it's own desire to keep Greg Nicoterro coming up with new make-up gags, Fuzz spends a lot of time giving us a sense of who these characters are, and where they are. The quirky villagers are more than skewed Miss Marple meets Straw Dogs extras ( a great running joke in the film that I guess no one else got but me, but that's ok) these are Twin Peaks like villagers, who give it color, but also are rather endearing. In fact, after one character reveal, a guy from the audience yelled: "Oh, Come on, not him!" As a filmmaker, those are the results you love to see. The film isn't as consistently funny as Shaun, and isn't as heavy on film references either, though it has its share. While it isn't as crazy throughout, it takes its time setting up a series of set pieces, and running gags, which pay off brilliantly in the final 20 minutes, which are as insane, hilarious, and inspired as you'd expect.

1 comment:

Spencer said...

Interesting thoughts. I haven't seen Hot Fuzz yet, but here's my thoughts on Grindhouse:

Planet Terror
Action, violence, gore, sex, etc... but fun. I felt like it wasn't taking itself seriously, it knew this and was okay with this. It was mindlessly fun. Nothing more. Oh, and I hated Tarantino as the rapist. When Tarantino acts he should play only one character, and that is himself.

Talking, and buildup with a few minutes of action. I didn't like how long it built things up only to have the action last for a few seconds. Everything dragged on for me. Why couldn't the movie start with him killing the three girls? Why do we need to know that they were these interesting characters if the real meat of the story is about a different set of girls. It's the first Tarantino film that I've been disappointed in. I liked it, but I was disappointed.

Side note on Rodriguez and penises... I thought the same thing with Sin City, but that is what happens in the graphic novels. He didn't come up with it, Frank Miller did. I liked Desperado, but most his other stuff has been pretty crappy. I did however think that Sin City had it's moments of brilliance. Oh, and I have a soft spot for From Dusk Till Dawn.