Thursday, June 10, 2010

Black & White Friday: GrindHouse

The Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double bill that made up Grindhouse seems like a natural fit for "Black & White Friday", in which we look at what films may have turned out like - for better or worse - if they'd been made in another era. Since Grindhouse took its inspiration from b-movies (specifically Rodriguez's Planet Terror) and exploitation (Tarantino's Death Proof) that were routinely filmed on cheap black and white film stock I thought it made a great subject matter.

Back when I took a look at Gregg Araki's The Doom Generation in black and white I wrote "Oh the things Russ Meyer could have done with Rose McGowen!" and nowhere is that more apt than here. I like the idea of a movie in which Rose McGowen leads a group of maniacal, big-breasted women who have just escaped from Prison who go on the run fucking and killing any man that dares get in their way. It would be incredible, yes?

Apologies if this entry just descends into me saying things like "OMG LOOK AT THAT!!!" and "AMAZING!!!!!!" but these two movies are incredible and that's basically the reaction I have each and every time I watch them. Doesn't this just looks awesome? The added grain, scratches and all 'round retro feel certainly helps in this feature, doesn't it?

I find it funny that Fergie has appeared in three movies that were throwbacks to classic cinema. She has had cameos in Grindhouse, Poseidon and Nine. Maybe there's more to Stacy Fergie Ferg Ferguson than meets the eye? Or perhaps there's less (she does voice a character in Marmaduke after all!)

I have nothing to say, I just like the shot.

This most definitely looks like something out of Them! or from something of that ilk. All we need is a big "NOOOOO!" and the scene would be complete.

There is nothing about Rose McGowen having a MACHINE GUN FOR A LEG!!!! that is not incredible and not even black and white can destroy that beautiful image. And while the idea of a character having a MACHINE GUN FOR A LEG!!!! sorta negates the retro vibe since it so clearly wouldn't have been doable "back in the day", Rodriguez does a far better job at keeping up the grindhouse feel for the longest. Quentin Tarantino all but forgets about it from an aesthetics point of view during the second half of Death Proof. And so while I think Planet Terror is the lesser of the two films, its dedication to its idea is so wonderful that I love it all the same.

Oh Death Proof. How I love thee.

Although, to be perfectly honest, I prefer the title "Thunder Bolt".

I know this scene cops a lot of flak from people, but I love every single second of it. Every word, every camera angle, every blemish on the reel. I haven't seen all that many of the kind of movies that Quentin Tarantino was riffing off of, but their whole talking-shit-and-not-much-else vibe comes through loud and clear. I could listen to these characters talk about shit for even longer!

Curiously - and I'm sure the farthest thing from Tarantino's mind - the movie that this shot reminds me of is Orson Welles' Touch of Evil with its US/Mexico bordertown and bubbling violence. All the other shots still feel like they're out of an exploitation movie, but this one is completely different. In colour it fits, but in black and white it has that film noir aesthetic with all those shadows.

I love how cheap and nasty this sequence looks, which is why it fits into the grand scheme of all things Grindhouse very nicely. Rose McGowen doesn't have a MACHINE GUN FOR A LEG!!!! in Death Proof, but despite the bat wig she slots in perfectly. She just has that look of an actress that wouldn't have been able to make it in the big leagues due to her BIG looks and overt sexuality and would've had to appear in these genre grindhouse titles that flaunted her sexuality. Come to think of it that is exactly what happened to Rose McGowen. She's not much of an actress when working outside of her indie/genre/indie genre comfort zone, but just try and remember how beguiling she was in her Black Dahlia cameo, or how much edge she had earlier in her career in movies such as The Doom Generation, Scream and Lewis & Clark & George and then think of projects like Jawbreaker, Phantoms and Charmed.

This is gorgeous.

Not much of Death Proof's second half suits itself to black and white since Tarantino all but ditched the visual component of it, but this shot is made for it. Basically because movies don't say "THE END" anymore, but it still looks great nonetheless.

1 comment:

Simon said...

People should have a 'The End' reel more. It's awesome.