Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tarantino 'Death Proof' - London Q&A: Pt 3

This is the third and final part of my write up of the Death Proof Q&A Session with Quentin Tarantino and Zoe Bell. Thanks for all the kind comments on various forums, and the insistence from some that I finish this sooner rather than later. It has spurned me on to do this now, even when I can't be bothered!

Don't forget there's also
Part One and Part Two, which are both probably worth reading.

Spoilers below.

So here it is, the last bit. This is where all the left over moments that I didn't mention get dumped. As with the last two posts, I'm writing this off the top of my head with very little in way of sensible editorial control and also, because this final part is actually little moments that didn't fit into parts one or two, it's not very well structured.

My lasting feeling from the events was that both Tarantino and Zoe Bell came across as very nice people (Zoe especially; I hope she continues to do more off the back of Death Proof). Tarantino may have been sniffing an awful lot during the beginning of the Q&A, but I can't possibly speculate as to why, so let's give him the benefit of doubt.

It was really the director's night and Zoe Bell, brimming with as much nervous, excitable energy as you might expect for a newcomer, was careful not to not step on his toes. While I would have been more than happy to hear more from the charming New Zealand star, I was glad she let Tarantino have his say... as he always has a lot!

One of the most interesting revelations of the night was his explanation of his feelings about Jackie Brown. If I recall correctly, someone asked him if he would be adapting anyone else's work again in the future, and Tarantino's answer was quite interesting.

As a sort of disclaimer, he made it clear that he loves Jackie Brown, and he by no means wanted to disrespect it in any way, but at the same time, he described how once it was made, he didn't get the same amount of buzz as when he has created something from scratch. For him the experience was apparently a bit of a let down.

He described how exciting it was to start off with a blank piece of paper, imagine a whole world of characters and situations, and ultimately turn it into an something that he then gets to see other people experience. (And looking around the crowd, the energy on the faces of people still buzzing from having just watched his latest creation was palpable.)

He claimed that this feeling that was missing when Jackie Brown was complete. It wasn't his world, they weren't his characters, and as such, there was something missing from the experience for him.

He then told an anecdote about discussing this particular feeling with another filmmaker who had just adapted something for the first time in their career (although he didn't say who, you got the feeling it was someone big), and they agreed with him; the experience was not as satisfying as seeing your own creation come to light, and as such, it just wasn't as exciting seeing it finished.

Again, he made it clear that that has now all this has passed, and it was just a feeling that was missing at that moment in time, and he's very proud of Jackie Brown, etc etc, but in the end, he said that the feeling he felt was strong enough to put him off wanting to adapt anything else in the future. So no more adaptations on the horizon for Tarantino!

Another question asked, in light of his feelings about adapting other people's work, was which of his own characters did he like the most. At this point Zoe Bell piped in with, "not including me, who is obviously your favourite, right?". Tarantino laughed and said, "of course", but then seemed to think about it and added, "actually, you're not my creation, you play yourself!" (which, judging her from the night, she most definitely does).

So, and I hope I'm remembering the full list (see why I left these questions to last?), he thought about it and said: Butterfly, Abernathy, The Bride, Mia Wallace, Mr Pink and Mr Blonde. I remember thinking, "no Mr. White?", but no, he wasn't there. (If anyone is out there going, "but what about Jules and Vincent?", um, well, they may have been there, but I can't remember for sure.)

Someone asked what he thought of Rob Zombie's new Halloween film and I was pleasantly surprised at how candid he was with his opinion, "I liked the first 40 minutes, but after that... I hated it". It's refreshing to hear someone just be honest for a change.

Tarantino was also very open about his general dissatisfaction working with Directors of Photography in general. Death Proof is the first film which Tarantino shot himself, without a DP, and he seemed to appreciate the freedom this gave him. Also, he joked that Death Proof was the perfect project to try it out on, "If it looked bad, I could just say, 'it's supposed to look bad, it's a 70's exploitation film!'".

He talked a little about his frustration of working with DPs, and how all they bring their own staff with them, who then, wanting to keep their working relationship with the DP in question, work for the DP instead of for Tarantino. You got the sense let it was a source of some considerable frustration for him, and that there must have been issues in his previous films, although he named no names.

Aside from Zoe Bell's sweet account of how Tarantino revealed to her just how big a role she had in his latest film (she at first thought it would be a one line cameo at most), which is also told on the Death Proof DVD for those who want to hear it, I'm sorry to say that think I'm out of material.

The whole experience was an incredible one, and one that changed my feelings about, not only Death Proof, but also Tarantino. It was nice to see the director "uncut" and clearly in an environment where he felt comfortable.

Thinking about Death Proof in a more critical light as a result of this evening, my girlfriend came up with a really interesting psychological profile for Stuntman Mike. In her mind, Mike was basically an average guy that got into stunts a little too much. The buzz from surviving car accidents made everything else pale in comparison and he got hooked on the extreme adrenalin rush. Even sex paled in comparison, it just couldn't compare to the life-threatening thrill of surviving a crazy accident. So he developed his own twisted version of sex, or the closest he can get to sex and still feel exhilaration, mixing these terrifying thrills with beautiful young women. I think that's rather a cool background story his character.

I hope you've enjoyed these three weeks of Death Proof madness! Thanks again to all those who have taken the time to tell me they enjoyed these little write ups. And thanks my girlfriend for getting us both tickets to the event (somehow miraculously stumbling across them just as they went on sale!). Cheerio!

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Tarantino 'Death Proof' - London Q&A: Pt 2

This is the second part of my write up of the Death Proof Q&A with Quentin Tarantino and Zoe Bell that I was luckily enough to attend. (The first part can be read here.) I've tried to address the most commonly talked about aspects of the film at the moment. Apologies if it's a bit rambling and not immediately compelling.

Other parts: Part One - Part Three

Spoilers below!

Death Proof vs Grindhouse
At the moment, wherever Death Proof is being discussed by movie fans, there seems to be someone complaining that they're being forced to 'double dip' on DVD because Death Proof and Grindhouse are "obviously" going to be released separately on DVD, and that the only reason they're not able to buy Grindhouse right away is because it flopped in US cinemas, and they're trying to get everyone to buy it twice: First as a stand-alone movie, then in a Grindhouse boxset. Now while there is some truth that UK and Australian cinema-goers were deprived of a theatrical release of Grindhouse because of its lack-lustre US box-office, it's not the case when it comes to any DVD releases. Nobody, believe it or not, is being forced to 'double dip'. (Remember the rumours about 'six different versions of Kill Bill to be released in a year'? Yep, we're still waiting...)

Death Proof 'Extended' on DVD (a confusing title) is actually just Death Proof. You see, as Tarantino explained at the Q&A, he made Death Proof, Rodriguez made Planet Terror and together they made Grindhouse. Three separate entities.

Tarantino revealed that the only way he would ever have agreed to edit his film down to 90 minutes for use in Grindhouse was simply because he knew that his longer cut would be the one that was going to be seen in most of the cinemas of the world (Grindhouse, it seems, was never set for a worldwide theatrical release) and the one that was going to be released everywhere on DVD. Quite simply, without those stipulations, he never would have agreed to it. He also added that while he was editing for Grindhouse he had to make sure that he was serving the experience of Grindhouse, and not his film.

So, to try and make this absolutely clear, and in contrast to the many misinformed reviewers and film commentators out there: The release of the longer, separate cut of Death Proof was not a 'studio' decision. It was nothing to do with Grindhouse being a failure in the US (except in the one or two countries that were originally set to get Grindhouse at their cinemas). It was planned from day one.

Tarantino talked about how proud he is of the film he's made, and how he cares about it (and how, realistically, could he not? It's something he spent years of his life creating, and this is the version he wanted people to consider his). The longer version of Death Proof is his film. Grindhouse was a film he made with Rodriguez.

In my mind at least, Grindhouse is a truly cinema experience, not a home theatre one and I really don't see the point in trying to recreate it on your sofa on your own. (I could be wrong.)

(It's worth noting that while Tarantino admitted Kill Bill was separated into two films under pressure from the Weinsteins, he discussed how he refused to buckle under the same pressure for Grindhouse. He also said that the reason the merged cut of Kill Bill has been so long coming was because he actually felt rather happy about it being two films. Whatever resistance he might have originally had to the idea of splitting The Bride's escapades into two parts were clearly long gone, and he happily shrugged and said that he felt that it had worked great as two films and was actually very glad he'd done it. He also made it clear that if he hadn't been able to release his version of Death Proof that he would have been very upset indeed.)

Leading on from this, he also went on to explain why the Grindhouse fake trailers (shot by people like Eli Roth and Rob Zombie and originally shown between Planet Terror and Death Proof as 'upcoming attractions') were not being included with the separate releases of the films.

Quite simply, as I've already said, the directors are very happy with Grindhouse and they don't want to see it die. Tarantino explained that one way to definitely kill it (and to disrespect it, really) would be to sell off its parts wholesale. If the trailers had been split and included with the separate releases of Death Proof and Planet Terror then it would have been one less reason to watch Grindhouse, and therefore one less reason for it to exist.

Tarantino told a funny story about when they received a polite letter from the distributors asking them to include the trailers in the international cinema showings of Death Proof and Planet Terror. It went something like this:

"We'd really like to to include the Grindhouse trailers for our audiences. We fully understand and support the 'grindhouse' aesthetic of these films and we believe that putting two trailers on each of the films would enhance this 'grindhouse' feeling for the audience. Also, we know that a lot of people want to see the trailers, so we feel it would be giving the audience what they want..." etc., etc.

Apparently before Tarantino could even think about replying, he turned the page to read Rodriguez's reply:

"If you're so keen to give the audience the 'grindhouse' experience, and understand and fully support the 'grindhouse' aesthetic, and you want to give the audience what they want... THEN FUCKING RELEASE GRINDHOUSE!"

So apparently Death Proof is Death Proof. Grindhouse is Grindhouse. And you probably shouldn't listen to the people who try to convince you otherwise.

Why They Didn't Just Stop the Car
Moving on from all this controversy (but which unfortunately seems to be dominating online discussion about the film - there must be a term somewhere for this ignorance generated, internet hyped, mass confusion that's become all too common to surf across), into something else entirely. There was inevitably and unfortunately at least one idiot in the audience who felt it was their right to argue with Tarantino. It's something about London, I swear. I've had most of my experiences with these people in Greenwich (no idea why, I'm sure there's lots of lovely people there) and they look like nice normal, ordinary people, except when they talk, it's clear that their brains have been re-wired so that they're incapable of being anything other than totally obnoxious.

Excuse me while I try to explain the type of person I'm referring to: In one such experience I remember standing at a bar, when the person next to me started to aggressively tell a taken-aback bartender that the film he's just seen was actually 'very good'.

It doesn't matter that this person was in the bar a few hours earlier and, unsure of what to go and watch, had asked the bartender his opinion was of a film. This bartender, making friendly banter, had said the film in question wasn't as good as the book, but that it was still quite good. Apparently this bartender had been horrifically misinformed and, although this other person hadn't actually read the original book, he'd decided to come back into the peaceful bar to threateningly tell the bartender what an idiot he was. It wasn't 'quite' good, he said through gritted teeth with finger pointed, it was 'very' good, and he should get his facts straight.

I apologise on behalf of the nicer side of London for these idiots. I also apologise to you for digressing so much, but hopefully it might give you an idea of what this person was like, which I'd have probably been unable to convey otherwise.

So, this person asked the following question: "Why do you set your films up to get the audience worked up, make it tense, believable and engaging, and then suddenly ruin it?".

Confusion and shock to this obviously aggressive question. The interviewer tries to move on quickly but Tarantino, quite surprisingly, calmly says, "No, no, I want to understand his question", and turning to the guy, "What do you mean?".

Now we get to the actual point of his statement, which is really what this guy should have asked, in a nicer tone, from the beginning: "Why didn't they just stop the car while Zoe was on the hood?".

Now, to be fair, this is a question that had drifted through my mind and had taken me out of the moment during the film's climax on at least one viewing, but it was asked in such a rude and inappropriate way that I, and others in the audience, couldn't help but squirm.

Thankfully, and surprisingly to me, Tarantino took it all in his stride and kept his cool. "One or two few people have asked me that", he replied, "but really, apart from two seconds, when they're in the ditch, they don't have time". The likeable Zoe Bell jumped in at this point and explained more fully. As being the person who was actually on the hood of the car, she pointed out, she was really in a unique position to explain what the character's options actually were.

She explained that it had taken literally half a mile of extremely gradual slowing down after each filmed take in order to stop her from flying off the hood of the car. Any slight increase over this, even if it was only a second, and she would literally feel as though she was about to be thrown off. There was no way that they could have slowed down without her being tossed in front of a moving vehicle.

Tarantino piped back in to ask the guy, jokingly and with bonhomie, if he had been chased by a homicidal maniac while Zoe was on the hood of his car, and really, until anyone had been in that situation, they couldn't honestly say how they'd react under the stress.

Zoe added that, if you think about it, when you're being chased by someone who's trying to kill you, that slowing down isn't really going to throw them off, especially when the homicidal maniac is right there. He's still going to try and kill you by any means necessary!

Both Zoe and Tarantino agreed that the character's aim was to get far enough ahead of Stuntman Mike for them then to slow down and get Zoe off the hood.

Although I was upset by the rudeness of the audience member, I was actually very glad the question was asked. The answer, once explained, does make a lot of sense, and it will certainly increase my enjoyment of future viewings. I suppose it might have been nice if Tracie Thoms had had a line that reminded the audience that Zoe didn't have anything to restrain her, or maybe those two seconds in the ditch trimmed from the movie, but at least now I know!

This is, inevitably, where the idiot pipes up again: "But they could have just stopped", he yells, sans microphone. Groans across the cinema.

Moving on, someone else asked Tarantino to name any films he'd be embarrassed to admit he'd not seen. Perhaps he was too embarrassed to list any specifically but he went on to talk about Fellini and European directors that he'd had difficulty enjoying. He made rather a interesting observation that he felt it was a mistake to go straight for films that are considered "classics" or the auteur's best.

He said that to really appreciate such films you have to have watched the director's earlier ones to fully understand what they were trying to capture. If you actually followed their career it would put their films into a context that most modern viewers miss (going straight for the "classics" listed on best movie lists, as they often do). He said he'd felt that he'd made a mistake doing this himself and had missed out on enjoying them fully, or perhaps even understanding why they were so revered.

I found this quite an interesting idea, as my girlfriend and I have been working out way through the IMDb's top 250 films list, with an eye on concentrating on the more obscure, older or foreign titles, and now I'm wondering if we're going about it all the wrong way.

There's still a few things that Tarantino talked about that I've not mentioned, so I'll probably put these in a Part Three at some point. Things I've not mentioned are Tarantino's favourite characters (out of the ones he's created), the reason why he has mixed feelings about Jackie Brown, what he thinks of Rob Zombie's new Halloween and other minor things. If you've got any questions, I'll try and answer them for you in the meantime.

Tarantino 'Death Proof' - London Q&A: Pt 1

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the London Death Proof Q&A with Quentin Tarantino and Zoe Bell held at the Ritzy Brixton. Here's part one of my impressions and recollections.

Other parts: Part Two - Part Three

Firstly I have to say how pleased I was that Tarantino came across as a smart, intelligent guy. There have been times in the past when I've seen him waffling on during interviews, and I wonder if he really knows what he's talking about, or he's just talking fast enough and long enough in the hope that no-one will notice. Thankfully it seems this isn't the case, and as the Q&A session progressed, he seemed more and more comfortable, coherent and insightful.

I learnt many things about Death Proof itself, too, and his comments actually changed my mind about the film, which I had been ambivalent about at that point, and made me really appreciate how well structured it is.

Let me just say that I'm going to get spoilerific right now and Death Proof is NOT a film that you want spoiled. What little storyline there is works much better when you don't know what's coming, so please, trust me, go watch Death Proof and then come back. (You won't appreciate what's being said until you've seen the film anyway, so it's not worth spoiling it for yourself.)

Right, now that's out of the way, I'm spoiling everything: When I first saw Death Proof I thought that it was a substandard attempt to copy Psycho. The set-up is essentially the same (as it is with many other slasher movies, to be fair), young woman (or women, in the case of Death Proof) get murdered, in an extremely shocking scene, by a guy that you don't expect to be a murderer.

The second half of the film is spent watching, hoping, that he doesn't strike again.

Now, like I said, I thought this was a substandard attempt to copy Psycho. With Psycho you knew from the outset that there was well, a psychopath waiting to strike. Alfred Hitchcock even explained almost the entire film's plot away in the movie's advertising. This was done, in my mind, to make the first chunk of Psycho (before the shower scene) more tense. The audience knew what was coming, they just didn't know when.

When the violence comes in Death Proof, it's a shock. Out of the blue, "no way", utter shock, and I kind of felt that if the audience had been given a hint at what was coming (maybe even an overheard police radio discussing vehicular homicide) that the first half of Death Proof would have been more compelling.

From Tarantino's comments, however, I realised that the shock was completely and utterly deliberate. Not only that, but more importantly, it was necessary for the second half to be truly scary and compelling. As Tarantino put it, "I spend the first half of the film getting you to trust me, then I pull the rug out and show you that you can't trust me at all". By doing this, the danger is ramped up for the second group of girls. Anything could happen, and as Tarantino pointed out, it would have been perfectly dramatically correct to allow Zoe to die, which ups the ante in the viewer's mind even further.

I was pleased to hear this explained and it made me appreciate that Death Proof's slow dialogue scenes are in fact completely deliberate. Tarantino is persuading us that he's not about to kill off these girls, we've spent too much time getting to know them! Maybe one or two might die, but not all of them!

The other thing I noticed when I watched with an audience was that the first half is creepy. It is sinister, and you do expect something bad to happen to the girls at the hands of the mysterious Stuntman Mike. You don't need that overheard police radio letting you know that something bad is going to happen. Unless, like me, you expected Kurt Russell to be the anti-hero, it's actually pretty obvious from the get go what's going to happen... and Tarantino spends the next 30 minutes slowly, masterfully trying to convince you that, against your better judgement, you're wrong.

Tarantino went on to explain that during his research of watching classic car-chases while writing Death Proof, he realised that the most effective car-chases, the ones where the audience is really emotionally involved, are the ones where we want the car to catch the people they're chasing. He mentioned the French Connection as an example, as opposed to say, something like The Blues Brothers, where the good guys are trying to escape.

This helped shape Death Proof's two-tier car chase: At first the good guys are being chased, and the audience is looking through their fingers at Zoe's near death experiences, then half-way through, the tables are turned and we're given a totally different experience. We're on the edge of our seats, excited, wanting the girls to "get him!".

It was very interesting to hear him explain the reasons for something which I'd completely taken for granted. There was actually a lot of thought and reason gone into the plot structure of Death Proof that I'd imagined, and it made me appreciate it a lot more. As Tarantino put it, the 70's exploitation idea was just his "jumping off" point, and after that, the film becomes something else.

It's not quite a slasher movie, it's not quite a car chase movie, it's not even really a 70's exploitation film, and it uses the low expectations of the audience expecting these things, to its advantage.

I still can see flaws in two aspects of Death Proof, however. Firstly, Psycho has a much stronger McGuffin, than Death Proof. With Tarantino's film we're almost bored. Yes, there's a few lose stories, but they're nowhere near as compelling as a woman who's just stolen money from her boss so she can't start a new life with her lover. Instead it's a bunch of things we're not really that interested in. It almost goes without saying that if the stories in the first half of the film do work for you, then Death Proof works much better as a film.

The second point is a single shot in the film where the "ship's mast" car is shown to have come to a stand-still, and then slowly start accelerating. The tension really drops, and it's almost like you wish you hadn't seen it.

This is discussed in more detail by Tarantino himself in Part Two.

To come: Why the Grindhouse trailers weren't included in the theatrical (and DVD) releases of Death Proof and Planet Terror, why they couldn't have stopped and let Zoe back in the car, and Tarantino dealing with an obnoxious audience member. Read all about it in Part Two...

Friday, 14 September 2007

Review: Death Proof Extended and Unrated DVD

I've had this DVD since the 8th and have been attempting to review it (well, Death Proof) since then. I've now given up and am just posting what I write off the top of my head (apologies in advance).

Death Proof's review has proved elusive because of its long and complicated history, so let's get that out of the way first: For those who don't know, Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof was originally intended to be seen in the US, UK and some other countries, along with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror in a unique, retro double-bill called Grindhouse. Both of those two films were cut down to 90 minutes, they got some famous horror directors to put together some fake trailers for 70's exploitation style movies, and they packaged the whole thing as one long, crazy, experience.

The US audiences didn't like it, it flopped and major theatrical release of Grindhouse was pulled from other countries. As to why it flopped, nobody knows. Rodriguez claims it was because the TV advertising confused cinemagoers. Tarantino, more philosophically, thinks it's because people just didn't want to watch two films back-to-back in the cinema ("man, I've got shit to do today!"). Others have speculated that it was just too "out there" for audiences, being as it was, an homage to an obscure and unpopular niche (70's exploitation cinema).

I personally speculate that Tarantino's core audience Rodriguez's core audience don't necessarily crossover as much as people think, and prospect of having to sit through a film from a director you're not that bothered about just to watch a director you are that bothered about, wasn't an enticing one.

Whatever the reason, its pull from cinemas left UK and Australian audiences fuming. Instead of the full Grindhouse experience, however, both films are being released theatrically in their longer, director preferred cuts, separately.

This DVD includes the this longer cut, which was always going to be released on DVD the world over.

The first thing to say is that thankfully, the idea of Death Proof being an homage to guilty pleasures comes across immediately. Even outside of the Grindhouse experience, the retro opening titles, with all their bad cuts, scratches, dirt and deliberate jumps, get the message across clearly and leave you with a smile on your face.

The second thing to say is that yes, this longer cut, is the better of the two versions. The much talked about "missing reel" from the Grindhouse version has been, ahem, "found" and reinserted back into the film, creating this version's first compelling moment.

Aside from that though, most of the extra twentyodd minutes is additional dialogue, which, while not adding any new amazing scenes, does help flesh out the characters a little more (in an indirect way) and gives us some classic Tarantino dialogue, too. The second half almost suffers from too much conversation, but just as you're just about to get tired, the finale kicks in (no extra footage there, though).

This is the version that Tarantino always wanted to us to see, but he was happy to sacrifice his favourite moments in order to make Grindhouse work better as a whole, knowing that one day we'd all be watching this version.

Eagle-eyed viewers will notice one small edit (yes, a removal of a few lines!) and one different take, but in both cases they are improvements.

If you're not familiar with Grindhouse and are completely new to Death Proof, then let me begin as I would have if I hadn't had to explain all of the above. Tarantino's fifth film is (or at least starts as) a tongue-in-cheek attempt to capture the atmosphere of a low budget 70's slasher movie. It's got the innocent girls talking about boys, the lurking danger and the almost non-existent plot. Staying true to its origins, when the violence and action comes, there is no use of CGI. This is truly an old school treat.

That's not to say that Death Proof is flawed or too simple. It's actually a lot cleverer in its structure than you might realise and is hugely entertaining to boot, even if it owes a lot more to Psycho than it does to any forgotten slasher movies.

Kurt Russell is brilliant as the mysterious Stuntman Mike and its shocking to know that he wasn't the first choice for the role. This is a brilliant addition to Russell's rogue gallery of characters, along with Escape from New York's Snake Plissken and The Thing's MacReady.

"The Gals" (as they're referred to in the opening credits) are all great, too. Vanessa Ferlito, Rosario Dawson, Rose McGown and newcomer Zoe Bell shine in particularly. The cast as a whole work perfectly together, too, which given the large amount of ensemble conversations is extremely fortunate. The chemistry appears so good amongst the cast that you can't imagine they didn't have fun filming Death Proof.

You'll forgive me if I seem to be deliberately avoiding talking about the plot, it is, as I've said, so simplistic that frankly there's nothing to be gained by telling you about it. Just go and watch and enjoy if you're outside of the US or buy, watch and enjoy if you're in.

By now I'm sure you've come to expect, as I have, a pretty decent treatment for films on DVD, and thankfully Death Proof is no different. If anything I'd have to say that, apart from the obvious loss of detail, the picture quality is actually better than the brand new cinema print I watched last week. The blacks are nice and black, but the image isn't too dark (as it was in the cinema), creating good contrast with shadow detail. The colours are perfectly captured, and so are all the deliberate scratches, bits of dirt and other artefacts.

The same goes for the sound (although I have to say, listening to it full volume in the cinema was most impressive). The deep engine growls cry out for a system with decent bass and loud speakers. Like the plot structure, the audio is deceptively simple.

As with Kill Bill, it seems like extras are not really what this DVD release is about, despite having a second disc dedicated to them. On the first disc you get the International Trailer (gives everything away) and a Poster Gallery (especially uninspiring).

The second disc is made up of short featurettes, which do provide some sense of background for the film when viewed together. I'm not really sure what a feature length documentary or commentary could have provided for a film like Death Proof, unless it delved into its Grindhouse beginnings... which none of the included documentaries do, unfortunately.

Stunts on Wheels: The Legendary Drivers of Death Proof (20mins) - A short piece on the old school drivers they used for the car chase. Some of the things they did seem almost let down by the film itself (for example the "near miss" they talk about is not very impressive in the final film).

Introducing Zoe Bell (9 mins) - An interesting explanation as to why one of the actresses does some amazing stunts.

Kurt Russell as Stuntman Mike (10mins) - A short piece on how great Kurt Russell is as Stuntman Mike (he is, but ten minutes of this isn't totally necessary, but I guess any shorter and it would have felt equally pointless).

Finding Quentin's Gals (20mins) - Another short piece on how each of the women were cast by Tarantino.

"Baby It's You" sung by Mary Elizabeth Winstead (2mins) - A short outtake from the film showcasing Winstead's surprisingly good voice.

The Guys of Death Proof (8mins) - A smaller piece on how the guys were cast (did you know that Eli Roth was one of them?).

Quentin's Greatest Collaborator: Editor Sally Menke (5mins) - An extremely short piece were Tarantino thanks his editor, and some snippets which are the closest to outtakes/goofs as this DVD gets.

Double Dare trailer - A trailer for the documentary that shows Zoe Bell's story and one that possibly led to Tarantino casting her.

A lot of people are probably annoyed that there's no mention of Grindhouse nor any of the fake trailers which were originally shown between the two features. The reason for this is actually quite hopeful; Tarantino and Rodriquez see Grindhouse as a separate entity don't want to do it a disservice by just selling off its parts. As such, this DVD is about Death Proof, not Grindhouse.

They both love Grindhouse and want it to keep alive, and the only way to do that is to keep whatever unique elements it has, to itself. This means, thankfully, that Grindhouse will indeed keep floating around cinemas all over the world once its two halves have had their separate releases. Ultimately its life will probably be one closer to the low-budget 70's it pretends to emulate, appearing in lesser known cinemas for sporadic (hopefully late night) showings.

Final thoughts
If you're familiar with Grindhouse and liked it, you'll love this. If you're new to Death Proof (meaning you're probably reading from outside the US) go see it at the cinema first (it's great with a good crowd) and then come back and import this DVD.

It may not be Tarantino's greatest work, but it's his most playful, joyous and outright fun.


Recommended (for the film itself and presentation more than anything else).