posted on May 01, 2007 01:43
During the utlimately rather forgettable 300, I found myself thinking about the trailer I'd just seen for Grindhouse, a double bill directed by Robert Rodriguez (who made the heroic Sin City) and Quentin Tarantino (do we need to list his triumphs?). The gorgeous Rosario Dawson as a stripper with a machine gun for a leg. A grizzly looking Kirk Douglas wearing an iconic eye patch. Again. The trailer was so gloriously over the top - a quick scan round the audience revealed many a popcorn muncher elbowing his partner or mate, mouthing "what the f*** is this?!".
I've been annoying my partner about this film for months.
And, now, the release in Australia (and Ireland) has been postponed. Indefinitely. The box office takings of the movie in the US have been disastrous - a measly $12 million in its opening weekend (over Easter - traditionally a strong movie-going period). Considering the movie had a reputed budget of $100 milliion, this represents a flop of titanic proportions.
A double bill of Rodriguez' Planet Terror (a zombie horror flick) and Tarantino's Death Proof (a car chase cum serial killer cum god knows what else) complete with spoof trailers, Grindhouse was shot as a homage to the cheap 'n' nasty, violent, pornographic low budget movies of the 60s and 70s. It sounds a winner, doesn't it? Both directors, now firm friends, have made careers of taking scenes and dialogue from movies and directors they love, and putting a new milennium spin on them. Reservoir Dogs owed much to Ringo Lam's 1987 Hong Kong thriller, City of Fire. Rodriguez's El Mariachi was a Western that was indebted to John Woo who, in turn, was a disciple of Sam Peckinpah. Tarantino took pop culture to new heights in Pulp Fiction especially and even if you didn't get all the film or genre references, the movie was so much fun that you could not help being swept along. So what's gone wrong? It seems to me that the problem with Grindhouse is that the whole movie is a reference to a genre that is not held in such high esteem. And didn't Tarantino and Rodriguez already make a grindhouse movie with From Dusk To Dawn with it's vampires and violence and a vamping Salma Hayek. Reports of American cinema goers leaving halfway through as they did not know it was a double bill are probably exaggerated, but are symptomatic of the movie's many problems.
Rumour has it that Grindhouse will, ironically, now be split into its constituent parts and released as two separate movies. Tarantino's effort, Death Proof, will apparently be showcased in Cannes (where he controversially won the Palm D'Or for Pulp Fiction) while Rodriguez's effort is in limbo.
All I am is massively disappointed. There have been few cinema events this past year and now Harvey Weinstein, in his wisdom, has decided that America's indifference to this challenging movie will be reflected worldwide. Has Tarantino really lost the plot? Or does he deserves studio support since Weinstein's powerful position in Hollywood owes much to Reservoir Dogs. Maybe Grindhouse is too much of an in-joke for a mainstream audience ($100 million for such a movie does seem ridiculous) but godammit, it needs to be seen!