Friday, May 11, 2007

Grindhouse, again

I'm awfully fond of seeing the last showing of a movie before it leaves a theater. Back when I worked in movie theaters (in San Diego, as an usher, assistant manager, projectionist, and theater manager, in that order), the last showing always seemed different. There are a couple I remember in particular.

When Dazed and Confused had its last showing, one of the ushers who had watched it five or six times (when you work at a theater, you tend to attach yourself randomly to movies; I knew one girl who watched Wayne's World every day for a month) took a six-pack into the theater to wish the movie goodbye. And I particularly remember the last showing of Jurassic Park because I was the manager of a two-dollar double-feature house (come to think of it, it was essentially a Grindhouse, except that you were more likely to see Car 54, Where Are You? and Cabin Boy than a couple of horror flicks) and we'd had the movie for nine months straight. It came out on video before it left our theater, and you'd be surprised how repetitious that movie can sound when it's airing six feet from you for that long.

So I wanted to see Grindhouse before it left the Cinerama, the classiest movie palace in Seattle. Rhias and I went to the last showing on Thursday night, right before it got replaced by 28 Weeks Later. Luckily, the movie's so long that the last showing was at 8:00; it wasn't one of those deals where the last showing gets out at 2:00 am.

Now, the Cinerama is a great place to see a movie. It's got a screen that looks as big as the Drive-In's. And it was relatively empty, although we inevitably had a loud drunk person sitting near us until we moved. So this time, I was able to concentrate on the movie. I mean, the Drive-In was awesome, but I had to keep running the windshield wipers because it was raining, and that kind of broke the movie-watching mood.

I enjoy the way that Robert Rodriguez seems to use the "bad film" effects in Death Proof to emphasize the exciting moments. Whenever the violence goes crazy, the film stock magically gets all scratched and bubbly, too. The effect is like the shower scene in Psycho, where it seems more violent than it actually is because of what isn't shown.

My goal while watching Planet Terror this time was to figure out what the scientist wanted with all those testicles. I have considered the matter carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that he's just a Ball Freak.

I was also trying to reconcile the overall timeline of the two movies. Planet Terror obviously takes place after Death Proof, both because of the Dakota Black character and because the radio in Planet Terror mentions Jungle Julia's death from Death Proof. But then when does the second part of Death Proof take place? Stuntman Mike must have taken some time to heal his broken bones and probably get a new car before going all the way out to Tennesee to harass the second set of victims, but it seems like the Bubo Gas must have happened before that. My suspicion is that the second part of Death Proof and the whole of Planet Terror are just incompatible and can't both happen.

I enjoyed Death Proof more this time, now that I've seen most of the classic driving movies it references and watched Double Dare, the great stuntwoman documentary that's about 50% Zoe Bell footage. I still think the first half is pretty boring (and Tarantino says that this is the version without all the fat!), but if it were cut, we'd lose some great Kurt Russell stuff. Maybe the secret message is that you shouldn't go out, drink everything in sight, get stoned, and drive around without a seatbelt. Unless you're a stuntwoman, in which case you'll be fine.

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