Thursday, September 27, 2007

Death Proof full version (DVD)

Death Proof offers up Kurt Russell in a performance so wicked it instantly rates high in his gallery of iconic roles, and this is the guy who created Snake Pliskin in Escape From New York. Zoe Bell (actually playing herself), Uma Thurman's stunt double for Kill Bill, truly gives a standout performance.
A wordy and clever script sets up Russell as Stuntman Mike a different kind of serial killer. He stalks and kills with his muscle car. Death Proof easily divides into two parts, both united by Stuntman Mike. In the first part Austin gets the royal treatment as the city itself plays a kind of character in which a group of femmes party to their heart's content, while bar hopping, one-hitting and joy riding.
The second half displays an different femme cast, themselves the crew of a movie on location in Lebanon, Tennessee (shot in Southern California). Here's where Death Proof goes from entourage style female bonding to an edge-of-your-seat action thriller with obvious tips of the beret to classic 70s pulp like Vanishing Point.
Quentin Tarantino has basically knocked the ball out of the park with Death Proof, especially if your taste is for a post-modern reinterpretation of genre specific subjects. In this case a revenge flick with lots of cool automobile stunts.
For the DVD release of Death Proof nearly 30 minutes have been restored. Remember Death Proof was truncated and released as a double bill with Planet Terror under the common name Grindhouse last April. The extra footage fills out the film without padding. The scenes include the missing reel of Vanessa Ferlito's lapdance for Stuntman Mike as well as a black-and-white interlude to the second half of the film. Here Stuntman Mike figures out a way to furtively touch Rosario Dawson's toes. There's also a bit more of the barroom banter from the first half and camera set-ups that show the progression of a series of cellphone text messages. At one point we see a real Austin phone number (512 4312164) although when I call the number I get a busy signal. There's no director's commentary but extras on the second disc of this double DVD release include short featurettes, brief interviews with the actors and Tarantino, as well as a gag reel the actors made for editor Sally Menke.

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