Friday, November 16, 2007

The Case for Living Death

“Directors Month” saw me going to watch the latest of Quentin Tarantino’s flims, Deathproof. Originally conceived as part of a double feature of 70s action flick inspired films, Deathproof is the “uncut” single movie version. And, to be honest, it suffers for its separation and subsequent “lengthening”.

At least, I assume it has been lengthened. Because, for an action movie, there is surprisingly little action. Tarantino’s traditional snappy dialogue is provided in abundance, at the expense of the stunts and action. A 45 minute set up for the first action sequence is rewarded with 10 minutes of actual action, and then another hour set up ensues followed by about 20 minutes of action. And the set up is not really that engrossing, to be honest.

The first set up was the more interesting, even with a directorial cameo. Tarantino seemed more focussed on sticking with the 70s cheap flick ethos, with grainy footage and terrible sound, that he kind of gave up with for most of the second part. The first part also felt more Tarantino-esque, with very quirky characters and ridiculous topics of conversation taken deeply and discussed in depth.

Part two seemed to function more as a highlight on Zoe Bell. An incredible stunt woman, I am not so convinced by her acting. But I also think my own “Kiwi aversion” prejudices came through. The “where are you from?” section really grated with me as I could see exactly where things were going and thought – in my opinion – that trail is actually not one that NZers tend to follow. Flight of the Conchords makes fun of the fact NZers are fairly monotone and rather unexcitable, so I always find NZers being portrayed as more excitable “Americans playing NZers” painful to watch.

At any rate, the dialogue in part two really drags. After being tantalised with action at the end of part one, the return to general inactivity is a huge disappointment. There are some amusing and interesting exchanges – this is a Tarantino film – but by this stage I had enough of the talk and wanted more with the action. And during some of the more dragged out dialogues (following the “oh yes you did”, “oh no I didn’t” kind of format), I was searching for the reading light so I could get into my book and come back to the movie when things got interesting again.

It ends on a girl power high and regains its 70s cheesy movie feel, so it ends well. But the end was a frightfully long time coming.

Verdict: The film may be Deathproof, but there are some parts where I felt it slipped into a coma. Or I did. Three bullets out of a six-shooter.

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