After some light afternoon drinking I watched a little light entertainment on Saturday evening before watching Quentin Tarantino’s latest effort, Deathproof. The man’s gone quite far downhill, if you ask me, ever since Jackie Brown. Kill Bill was a wholesale rip off rather than an affectionate homage and suffered from the fact that it was shit. Sin City and Hostel 2, which both involved his input at production level, weren’t great. The former was purely style over substance and unengaging while the latter was a retread of the original. So he’s pumping out duds like rabbit droppings. His forehead is also too big for his face.
Another thing that grates with QT is his embarassing public profile. I switched on a repeat of the MOBO Awards on Friday night (what a load of tat that was) and QT turned up (in town to promote Deathproof) and made a grade A udder of himself, talking in that obscene cod-Bronx accent and making a shit joke in which he compared Jackie Brown to Gordon Brown. Self-referential and entirely unfunny (he was talking about a film from ten years ago to a crowd who were probably eight when it came out), he died on his arse.
Not only was QT at the MOBOs – which is kind of forgivable – he also showed up on Ant & Decs’ Saturday Night Takeaway. Now that was a shock. I didn’t catch much of this prime time Saturday night brain damage but from what I could gather they had the man in some kind of booth commenting on various bits of the show. You’d never have got Scorcese doing that kind crap. Is he actively trying to destroy his own reputation?
This kind of promotional behaviour serves to make the discerning viewer watch a film in a jaded state before the credits have started to roll.
So Deathproof began and I was already pissed off and had the image of QT with his club-brow overhang like a daytime nightmare in the back of my mind.
Early signs were good. The film opened in a suitably sleazy manner and it genuinely looked like the kind of crap I’d dig out from second hand video shops when I was in my early teens. Schlock nonsense. The problems began when the characters started talking. And talking and talking. They never fucking stopped with their talking.
QT could have done great things with this. Kurt Russell was absolutely brilliant as Stuntman Mike and the whole set up was nigh on perfect – a jaded, anonymous killer using his car as a weapon – it was, in theory, the perfect plot for a grindhouse movie. The problem was, in his haste to impress, QT hired drop-dead gorgeous actresses, got a semi-on and gave them way, way too much screen time. As a result, we’re subjected to needless, bottomless dialogue that embarrasses rather then entertains.
Another problem is the fact that QT himself turns up in an early scene. Playing a barman, his presence just reminded me of his appearance on Ant & Dec. I couldn’t take him seriously. He’s a personality in his own right now and disrupts any film he appears in as a result. His old trick was to take a forgotten actor (Travolta, Russell, Thurman et al) and give them the part they were born to play. The fact that their abilities were lost in the ether previous to their appearance made this an effective device. He actively rejuvenated their careers and it felt like we were seeing a new and brilliant talent. When QT appears in movies, it does the opposite. His doesn’t feel like a fresh face. It looks like an ugly face I saw on some rubbish TV the night before, mugging and making a complete knacker of itself.
Deathproof almost saves itself from being a disaster with an adrenaline-rush ending and a pretty mind-blowing action sequence in the middle. But having to get though over an hour of badly conceived conversation between unrealistic characters either side of that (even if one of those involved is Rosario Dawnson) tends to try your patience.
Planet Terror had better be good.