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Missed the Tarantino/Rodriguez double feature Grindhouse, which did so-so box office and now will be split into two films for non-U.S. distribution. The Tarantino segment "Death-Proof" has been selected for Cannes; Robert Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" hasn't been. Salon (prob. subscription-only, sorry) reports on the "Death-Proof" press conference below. The producers have "restored" the film (or padded it out with cut footage, depending on how you see it) and are releasing it in France as "Boulevard de la mort."
Most strange and striking of all was the moment when [producer Harvey] Weinstein moved in to squelch all further discussion of "Grindhouse," and in the process seemed to deliver a slap-down to Kurt Russell. Most of the participants stayed on message most of the time, meaning that Tarantino insisted that the longer, "Boulevard of Death" version of the film is closer to his original intentions. Russell, who plays impressively evil Stuntman Mike, wasn't having it. "I'm sorry for people who won't get the 'Grindhouse' experience," he said. "That's what it was all about for me. So I prefer the shorter version. Now ['Death Proof' and 'Terror Planet'] are gonna go off and stand on their own, and hopefully you'll enjoy them. But in 20 years, you will want the full 'Grindhouse' experience, because there's nothing else like it."

Weinstein held his peace at that moment, but a few minutes later, when another eastern European journalist asked why none of the fake trailers from "Grindhouse" are being shown with "Death Proof," he stepped up to the mike. "We had a great time with the whole 'Grindhouse' thing," he began, in the tones of a man not having any fun at all. "Now European audiences will get to see these new movies by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and they'll enjoy them much more [than 'Grindhouse']. You'll see Robert Rodriguez making a true Robert Rodriguez movie, you'll see Quentin making a pure-essence Quentin movie. It's a completely different experience. They will dwarf 'Grindhouse,' trust me."
Update: Grindhouse is still playing in the theatre in NY (in Times Square of all places) so I checked it out this afternoon. The Tarantino burned brightly and intelligently (though 'twasn't enough premise for a full length, sorry, France), while Rodriguez's "Planet Terror" paid your standard loving tribute to zombie movies, with an increased disgusting gore quotient. Special effects man Tom Savini plays a small acting role in "PT"; his exploding body prosthetics ruined many an '80s film and Rodriguez has aped them and upped them in the present glopfest. Neither "Death-Proof" nor "PT" particularly evoked '70s grindhouse, aside from the scratched and grainy film stock. Tarantino's bit is a sui generis art movie--Hollywood/gender deconstruction via the theme of "muscle cars and the pros who drive them and go psycho"--and the Rodriguez mostly a subtextless homage to '80s slasher films, a genre still chugging along as late as the '90s (Tales of the Crypt: Demon Knight) and the '00s (the Scream franchise). 2002's Cabin Fever (directed by Eli Roth, who also has a bit part in "Death-Proof"), seemed more authentically '70s to me. In any case, everything about the Rodriguez felt familiar. The gore in the Tarantino happens quickly, doesn't linger, and disturbs infinitely more.

- tom moody 5-22-2007 7:29 pm [link]