It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Death Proof [starting @ 11 p.m. on Starz Edge]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: In a Hollywood economic climate where Steven Soderbergh couldn’t get Moneyball made with Brad Pitt and a reasonable budget, you might wonder how Quentin Tarantino still gets funding. Yet here we are just a little over three weeks away from the release of Mr. Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and the man-child director is still making ambitious art-house parlor tricks wrapped in studio budgets and ad campaigns. And maybe that’s the key to his success: If he can create a movie with enough punchy scenes to allow the marketing department to piece together a kickass trailer, people will show up on opening weekend regardless of what the actual movie plays like. (Beware of those action-packed Inglourious Basterds trailers, which leave out the two and a half talky hours that the script promises.) Which makes us wonder: How much more successful financially would Death Proof have been as a stand-alone “Quentin Tarantino movie” and not as part of the unruly mess that was Grindhouse?
We’ll never know the answer to that, of course, but what we do know is that Death Proof is an outstanding film; a dialogue-heavy throwback filled with virtuoso camera work, sparkling dialogue and a pacing that allows the tension to simmer for quite sometime before the boil over. As is usually the case when dealing with a Quentin Tarantino movie, though, the performances manage to surprise the most. While we love Death Proof for the thrills, the scares and that unbelievable car chase that takes up most of the final act—seriously, awesome—the real treat for us is trying to understand how Mr. Tarantino is able to cull all this tremendous work from such a dissimilar group of thespians, ranging from Kurt Russell to Tracie Thoms to New Zealand stuntwoman Zoe Bell. If the enfant terrible is ostensibly wasting his talent as nothing more than a genre-for-hire filmmaker, then as long as he keeps making things like Death Proof work, we’ll be O.K. with all that waste.
When we’ll probably fall asleep: Of all the Tarantino-ian hallmarks, our favorite might be when he replays the same scene over and over again, each time from a different vantage point. It’s a great way to provide loads of information to the audience, while at the same time taking advantage of the very nature of cinema. So we’ll make it until 11:45 p.m., 45 minutes into the film, when Mr. Tarantino stages a horrific car crash and shows how each passenger met their untimely demise. We don’t know how people keep letting Mr. Tarantino make movies, but we’re sure happy they do.