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Movie Critic Review: Death Proof (2007) Part Two

Rubberduck.jpg The Movie

It appears that there is no point in praising a movie that was meant to look like some cheap movies that were made in the seventies unless this new movie will disprove the cheapness of those movies and make us love them and live happily ever after!
Yeah, it just appears!

Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez decide to make two movies to be shown back to
back in one program and even put them under the title Grindhouse- a term used to
describe theaters that showed low-budget, low-quality movie genres in the seventies.
Of last century, I should regretfully add. And, better still, confuse the viewers by
showing additional transient titles on the screen. Just like the way popular genres of
movies were made and shown to the audience, sometimes with a whole reel missing!
Apparently the two filmmakers had no other intentions for their double-movie
production! It wasn't like a project or anything big! Rodriguez even once said
about cheap movie genres such as Kung Fu and Spaghetti Westerns "The posters
were much better than the movies.. we're actually making something that lives
up to the posters."
Please acknowledge and insert exclamation marks outside this last quote.
Now three propositions come to mind. Well, least!
First; The task outlined in the very first paragraph is impossible to achieve.
Those who made cheap box-office movies in the seventies had no claims of any
artistic achievement, sought no recognition and possibly did not even wish to
remember those movies! Further than that "Death Proof" was deliberately made
to physically look over-run and in bad shape. So there is nothing to fix here!
Second; Tarantino might be referring to the era not the movies which might explain
why he packed his movie with memories, references and signs! "Death Proof" litters
our eyes with these the same way reality has been doing since WW2 when reality
started to love its simulations and force us to "see" it. Not to "live" it!
Third;  Movie makers usually take a narrative and make it visual but can't they just
make the visual right away?
So let's assume that there is something to excavate in "Death Proof".
What does the movie tell us?
It tells the story of a psychopath ex-stuntman who kills his female victims by involving
them in fatal car accidents without him being harmed neither physically nor legally
because his killing tool is a death-proved car (i.e a car rendered indestructible)
and also because nobody could blame him for the accidents since it was the victims
not him who were not fit for driving because of being intoxicated.
Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) appeared (was made to appear!) malign and worthy
of empathy as an aging non-drinking man who does not (even) smoke weed and is
trying to have fun.
Under these guises plus the guises the girls were under, he brutally kills the most
trusting of the girls, Pam (Rose McGowan) the bar-tender while giving her a ride.
Then he follows and kills the three friends (Vanessa Ferlito, Sydney Tamiia Poitier,
and Jordan Ladd) and the lady in whose car they were traveling.
This is such a hauntingly horrific headlong crash (See video in Part One). It wasn't
a CGI by the way! Mike gets away with his murders!
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Jungle Julia)
Some months later he stalks a bunch of four women (Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson,
Tracie Thoms, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead) but his scheme this time is complicated
by other factors and things take a nasty turn.
Like I said, the narrative is not the issue. Behind the well-crafted scenes, a linear story
runs like an old belt in a phasing out factory. We don't know why this man is killing.
Motive. Background. No flash-back into his past. 
The girls in the first half of the movie are just helpless erotic machines addicted to foul
body language. The 'dangerous' set of women in the second half have vague reasons
to meet or to even be in the movie. But one of them, Zoe Bell, wanted to try a stunt
in a car at high speed. That's when she realized the stalker.
The origin of the story according to Tarantino is that "he was talking to a friend about buying a car. Tarantino wanted to buy a Volvo because he 'didn't want to die in some
auto accident like the one in Pulp Fiction (1994).' The friend suggested: 'Well, you could take any car and give it to a stunt team, and for $10,000 or $15,000, they can
death-proof it for you.' The "death proof" car struck Tarantino's mind as a concept
to tackle later on.
Obviously the movie is kind of a horror movie but under a subgenre know as (the slasher)
in which a killer slashes his victims using a slashing tool (knive, axe, death-proofed car etc.). Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960) is considered the father of this subgenre with that famous shower scene. But more slashing was wreaked in subsequent movies such as Halloween (1978) Friday the 13th (1980).
"I never do proper genre movies" said Tarantino. He looked into how these movies
were told. Then he messed up the structure so as to confuse the viewers anticipations.
We tend to like the killer and, shamelessly, share with him the thrill and adrenaline of
that sequence of (Rape by collision-See the clip again) where "the stuff american dream
is made of" viz sex and violence is pretty obvious, on second watching! 
Then towards the end of the movie the killer appears totally victimized!
"Death Proof  goes way further toward challenging our concept of identification
by making us identify with the first group of girls, a potential Final Girl, and  the killer;
when the second half finally comes around we have absolutely no idea how to feel
about this new set of characters." Writes Randomaniac.
Tarantino does not settle for a slasher movie the structure of which he has slashed
beyond popular recognition. He goes further to embelish and enrich it so it can claim
a glorious status somewhere not necessarily in the crumbling genre indexing system
by dusting it or image-spraying it with everything from personal likings, memories,
glimpses from other movies, poetry, fetish, idolized earlier movie makers (Goddard,
Peckinpah etc.), things trendy, memorabilia, you name-find it in the movie!
Writes Norman K. Denzin years before Death Proof  "contemprorary cinema
perpetuates modernist impulses (auteurism, social realism, gernre driven
productions.....) punctuated  by periodic postmodern breaks with the past.
Films like Blade Runner (1982), Blue Velvet (1985)...Hannah and Her Sisters
(1986), Sex, Lies and Videotapes (1989) invoke a nostalgia for earlier films...
These films locate the viewer in a perpetual present, where the signifiers from
the past circulate alongside advanced technologies and modern conveniences
(Blue Velvet). These films mock contemporary social formations and  myths
(family, science, love, intimacy, the middle class) by confronting the viewer with
'unpresentable' violent images of sexuality and urban decay."
Denzin believed that "self-reflective cinema is an important variant on the
postmodern, 'retro movie."  He wanted to prove "how far the simulational,
hyperreal mode of experiencing reality has gone in contemprory age.."
According to Denzin, Death Proof falls squarely on our second proposition!
Tarantino's Death Proof is actually a contribution to how we look at reality.
He subscribes to analyzing the reality through signs, signifiers and references
and therefore help grasp what it means to live the here and now.
The film ought to be seen and seen again. Students and buffs must note.
Death Proof (2007)
114 min, Subgenre: Horror/slasher, color B&W.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson,
Sydney Tamiia Poitier, Vanessa Fertilo
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino
Film Editor: sally Minke (died 2010)
Cinematography: Quentin Tarantino
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill etc.)
Tarantino won the Oscar for 1995 Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the
Screen for Pulp Fiction (1994). Thr american Choreography Awatd for Kill Bill: Vol.2
(2004), Palme d' Or 1994 for Pulp Fiction, Golden Globe Best Screenplay - Motion PicturePulp Fiction (1994) and many other prizes. 
For artistic refernces please visit this site:
The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Stuntman Mike's death proof cars (70s Chevy Nova/70s Dodge Charger) feature
a replica of the "Rubber Duck" icon hood ornament which was first used in the Sam Peckinpah action film convoy (1978) on Rubber Duck's (Kris Kristofferson)truck.




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