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C.J. Hollywood's ALMOST-NON-SPOILER review of Grindhouse

Hey folks, Harry here... I personally expect reviews to be all over the place for GRINDHOUSE - the genre that Tarantino and Rodriguez are playing with - well, it's something that many filmgoers haven't really experienced - and most film critics that are writing today, have intentionally avoided. GRINDHOUSE is going to be a film that kicks the ass of those whose asses it'll kick. Like C.J. Hollywood here... he ate it up with all the condiments. I see it next Wednesday... how appropriate is that?

I attended a critics screening of Grindhouse last night at the Mann's 6 in Hollywood. As I waited in line Quentin Tarantino and Kurt Russell came out of a previous screening. I was jazzed. Cut to the chase: is Grindhouse the movie we're all hoping for? Oh my God! To some degree I expected not to love Planet Terror and Death Proof as stand-alones. I suspected that the directors might dumb these flicks down a bit compared to their normal fare, much like the second-half of From Dusk 'til Dawn. That is NOT the case here ladies and gents. We get Tarantino and Rodriguez in top form. Let's break it on down in these brief reviews... OPENING: We get the entire Grindhouse-theater experience. I saw the film in perfect digital projection and all the logos look like shit. Excellent. GRINDHOUSE scrolls by in font so big it gave me goosebumps. The fun begins. PLANET TERROR: Complete with all the film-projected imperfections you saw in the trailer (ie hairs and dirt on the print throughout) Mr. Rodriguez establishes the rules of the Grindhouse universe quickly; the writing is sharp with nods to the horror/action/grindhouse genre, the action is well done, the dialogue is just cheesy enough but all the acting is solid and the characters are extremely likable -- with the exception of Quentin Tarantino himself who is too much of a distraction even in the anything-goes universe of Planet Terror. Fortunately he only has three or four scenes. The plot involves a green toxic/virus/gas that transforms those exposed into bulbous brain-eating zombies. The make-up is great. Blood splatter is often pink water, which is all just part of the f- MISSING REEL. The pacing of Planet Terror is relentless as it should be, with character development in all the right places. There is a scene invloving a young boy that was brutal -- one that made me stop smiling for a few minutes, sit up, and ask myself "was that funny? Am I sad?" Planet Terror gets away with things I haven't seen in a chain theater before. The film wraps up nicely with a far-out ending that makes you smile. And then... TRAILERS! Not gonna spoil anything here. Some great stuff. THANKSGIVING! DEATH PROOF: After the fun-filled thrill ride that was Planet Terror I was anxious to see what QT had in store for us. Unlike the previous flick, things start off pretty slow here. Some intentional continuity errors and poor editing are good for laughs, but the trademark wordy Tarantino dialogue takes you out of the Grindhouse for a bit. Not that this is a bad thing -- just not what I expected. After ANOTHER Tarantino cameo that falls pretty flat (the dude is awkward on camera, am I wrong!?) things get going as Kurt Russell sets his sights on victum #1. You will hate Kurt Russell. I had another moment of "is this funny -- because I feel sad right now." Maybe I'm just a pussy. Anyway -- the first set of characters are 'dealt with' in a fantastic action sequence replayed from many angles... and then it's on to the next set of cast members. At some point the artificial grindhouse-film look disappears from the flick (it stayed throughout PT.) Lots more wordy dialogue that makes you feel for the characters in a very real way -- and then the set up for the final stretch of the Grinhouse. ORGASM. MULTIPLE MALE ORGASM. And that's pretty much all I'm gonna say. When Death Proof ends you will be smiling ear to ear, then you will call everyone you know and tell them to see GRINDHOUSE immediately. Very nice final frame! After the credits I caught nearly the entire cast in the lobby, as well as Robert Rodriguez who has lost like 60 pounds (has he been Peter Jackson thin for long!?) I loved both Planet Terror and Death Proof. One more than the other? I think Death Proof is closer to being a real film, but Planet Terror is more geeky fun. Both are tremendously entertaining if you can get past the unfunny Tarantino cameos and the VERY wordy dialogue in Death Proof. They compliment each other well and are different enough to hold our interest. I CAN'T GET THESE FILMS OUT OF MY HEAD. -C.J. Hollywood My YouTube Page
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