07 April 2007

At its best, Grindhouse is insanely wonderful, and even when it doesn't work, it has more good ideas than all of last summer's movies combined. Since it's a double feature, most viewers will come down on the side of one movie or the other, but the energy that they generate together exceeds what either could produce by itself. Planet Terror is the more fully realized of the two, and the presence of Rose McGowan (along with my discovery of Jessica Biel in The Illusionist) makes me realize that I should have spent more time watching the WB. It's my favorite of the recent run of zombie movies, even if Rodriguez's innocent appetite for gore is beginning to wear thin.

Death Proof, by contrast, doesn't feel like a whole movie, and it wouldn't play as well on its own, but the two-for-one format allows Tarantino to tell a long shaggy dog story, the cinematic equivalent of one of the extended, shapeless monologues from his other films. (He did something similar in Four Rooms.) This may not sound promising, but in its rambling abruptness, it does things structurally and emotionally that would be impossible in a more well-rounded movie. It also has the best fucking car chase I've seen in years, and its closing freeze frame, which I applauded, stands as a rebuke to the denouement of every horror movie ever made.

Oh, and please don't Netflix this one. It begs to be seen in a darkened theater, on its opening weekend, with a thousand rowdy strangers.

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