Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Festival? How Fantastic!

So the good news is that I'm going to Fantastic Fest in Austin and will be coming back with tons of new film reviews, including (I anticipate) one or two big-time blockbuster movies and plenty of hot, offbeat genre fare.

The bad news is I will be swimming in films, great food, wonderful friends and non-stop fun, so I don't know how much time I'll have to devote to the old HQ10. I will be posting FF updates over here with a bit more regularity, but I have a 300 word maximum and they're paying me, so that's the way that goes. So anyway, in case you get worried, that's where I am.

And hey, if you're in Austin and you enjoy the page, let me know. I'll be around


Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Forgotten Movies - A CINEMA OF UNEASE: A PERSONAL JOURNEY BY SAM NEILL (and Happy Belated Birthday, Sam Neill!)

Hey, you know who kicks ass? Sam Neill, that's who.

Sam Neill has been one of my very favorite actors for a long time now. This is a guy who should really be a bigger star than he is, but for some reason he hasn't quite been embraced like he should have. I suppose that's OK for him, as it allows him to take more work in his native New Zealand and in Australia, but for a guy who's appeared in some huge blockbusters (JURASSIC PARK; THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) and some acclaimed classics (THE PIANO; MY BRILLIANT CAREER; UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD) and has been dubbed "The thinking woman's sex symbol" for his work in "Reilly, Ace of Spies" (not to mention he was almost James Bond at one point), he's an actor who deserves to be bigger than he is. He's certainly a recognizable face to a lot of people, but I'm sure most of them can't place his name.

Like most people my age, I first spotted Neill as the adult Damien in THE FINAL CONFLICT, the final OMEN flick, and he was a pretty cool spawn of Satan, I must say. After that I'd see him pop up in a lot of different things and you'd see a guy who was making interesting choices (anyone who's in a mindfuck like POSSESSION deserves some respect) while also paying the bills with a lot of TV, but then around the late 80s he seemed to be hitting his stride; he was absolutely superb in Fred Schepsi's A CRY IN THE DARK, where he matched an Oscar-nominated Meryl Streep scene for scene, while in films like DEAD CALM and RED OCTOBER he was part of an ensemble in quality films and with the one-two punch of JURASSIC PARK and THE PIANO, where his excellent work is criminally underrated, it seemed like he was going to hit the big time. Hell, he even got to do THE SIMPSONS, so you know things were good. But again, the American public just didn't seem to get Sam Neill, so he went back to New Zealand to do a very cool and unique documentary that I've only seen once and has never been released over here. Henceforth, The Forgotten Movies presents Sam Neill's A CINEMA OF UNEASE: A PERSONAL JOURNEY BY SAM NEILL.

Produced as the New Zealand Film Commission's entry for the BFI's A Century of Cinema series, A CINEMA OF UNEASE has, as far as I know, been shown in the U.S. only once, at the 1995 New York Film Festival, which just happens to be where I saw it. (Coincidence? I think not.) Paired with a documentary on Henri Langlois, Neill was there to present the film personally, opening by saying, "Good evening French film lovers", with effortless charm to big laughs. (The film curiously began with the Miramax logo, which might explain why it's never been seen in the U.S. since - zing!) So in the film, Neill, uh... hang on a sec here...

Can you give me a minute? We're talking about a 52-minute films that I only saw once 12 years ago. My memory's a bit hazy, to be honest, and I never took any notes. I wasn't think that 12 years later I'd be blogging about the damn thing, ya dig? OK, here's what I remember about A CINEMA OF UNEASE: I remember Neill showing clips from an early 60's NZ rock 'n' roll beach party movie that I feel I must see before I die; I remember him discussing how he grew up in the same town as Julite Hulme and Pauline Parker (the subjects of HEAVENLY CREATURES) and remembered when the event occurred (Neill is even seen walking through the same garden path where the event took place; I remember Neill being a charming host showing a lot of film clips, everything from SLEEPING DOGS (not only the film that launch Neill's career, but of NZ cinema in the U.S.) to DEAD ALIVE, whose morbid sense of humor took some NYFF attendees by surprise; I remember him wearing a little bumblebee pin on his suit throughout the entire film, which he later said in the Q&A symbolized nothing and was there because he liked it (the same pin later shows up with Neill in Peter Jackson's brilliant FORGOTTEN SILVER); I remember asking him at the Q&A what he felt was the finest of all NZ films, and he turned to the festival programmer sitting next to him and mentioned that they had "Just been discussing this backstage" and that it was a film that the NYFF turned down the previous year, HEAVENLY CREATURES; and that's about it. Oh, I remember thinking that it was really, really good. That should account for something, shouldn't it?

So I know this isn't really selling A CINEMA OF UNEASE to you guys, but like I said, it's been a while since I've seen it. I recall hearing at the time that Miramax was going to pair it with FORGOTTEN SILVER, but that never materialized and SILVER ended up going with some little rinky-dink outfit that never did much with it. So I'm sure the film is just sitting on the Miramax shelf somewhere (more than likely the new managers don't even know they own it), and it's a shame, because I think it would be of interest to many, especially when you consider how far New Zealand has come to the international film scene since then. Perhaps even a update might be in store, in order to discuss all that's happened in NZ film; I'm thinking it would be a good supplement for a 2-disc edition of HEAVENLY CREATURES. Get crackin' Miramax monkey boys!

Anyway, Sam Neill will forever be awesome in my book. He just turned sixty the other day (I had hoped to have this up there then, but it's been a busy weekend and it's going to be an even busier week), so happy birthday, Sam Neill, and enjoy some of your fine wine and keep on doing what you're doing because you're doing it awfully well. Yeah, that's not the finest piece of writing a guy can do, but at least I said all I have to say. Go Sam Neill!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

David Cronenberg Can Do No Wrong In My Book - EASTERN PROMISES

Now that the embargo's been lifted, I can finally tell you that I've seen David Cronenberg's EASTERN PROMISES and am happy to report that it's another winner from the man I consider to be the world's greatest living filmmaker. As far as I'm concerned, it's an absolute must-see.

Gee, I'm sure glad that someone asked me to wait 2 weeks in order to tell you guys that. Lord knows I hate to be the bearer of good news.

Anyway, EASTERN PROMISES is a damn good film, sometimes an excellent one, and one of the most satisfying I've seen thus far this year. I've already read someone saying this was Cronenberg entering Scorsese territory, but I don't exactly see that. Certainly, he's working in a crime film (almost film noir) genre, but once it's all done you realize that it's still a Cronenberg film. While I'm sure it seems he's moving now into more conventional fare, I think what he's doing here is actually a progression of his ongoing theme of the human body in revolt. As in HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (which this film most certainly feels like a companion piece to), EASTERN PROMISES deals with the nature of family, although here it's more about what happens when someone is born into a violent family (and a violent world) as opposed to violence invading the family, and what we sometimes do to fight against this. Some of the characters accept their violent nature; others are troubled by it but go through it anyway, while the rest are revolted by it. For those who embrace it, it is a way of life, a time-honored tradition that’s marked on their bodies through a myriad of tattoos, again Cronenberg using the human body to tell his story. On the other end of it there is a newborn child, born of violence but being given a possible opportunity to grow up in a world without it. Cronenberg doesn’t drown the audience in sentiment, but just keeps it there in the background as a reminder, but at the same time, it is also a driving force of the film.

Of the many things to like about EASTERN PROMISES, one thing for me was giving us a look into this previously unseen world of London's Russian mob; for Cronenberg, its interest lie not so much in all the crime but in the violence. That side of things seemingly is given free reign to do what it pleases and it's obvious to me that this fascinates Cronenberg. If you really think about it, how much actual "violence" have Cronenberg's films had? In truth, not a lot. Films like VIDEODROME and SCANNERS may have had a lot of gore, but all of that was peripheral to the story, while here (as in HISTORY), it is the story. It's a world of killers and into it comes a pair of innocents who the killers seek to either corrupt or destroy outright. Stories like these have been told hundred of thousands of times, but it feels fresh in Cronenberg's handling. This isn't THE DEPARTED or some big mafia melodrama, but a small story with just a few characters and what brings them together and links them to one another, which just happens to be violence. The film's characters are seemingly first split into "good guys" and "bad guys", but by film's end those labels aren't quite so right. Are you born with this violence or are you able to choose to not give into it? Cronenberg gives this oft-used theme more weight than is often seen and when it's long over and you're thinking about the film, you realize that it fits in with Cronenberg's other films while in the end becoming one of his most humane. Just one more thing that makes me love this guy more so than any other filmmaker around.

Credit Cronenberg, too, for his absolutely superb depiction of onscreen violence here; the bathhouse scene, already becoming legendary, reminded me of the famous prolonged murder scene from Hitchcock’s TORN CURTAIN, but this one outdoes it. Murder is not only ugly and painful, but also tremendously difficult, too, and you can’t forget that after seeing this. Credit should also go to the choices that star Viggo Mortensen makes in this scene (sure to delight some of his lady fans), but let’s also credit him for giving the best performance of his career thus far. This is something Cronenberg has been doing for decades (Jeremy Irons even thanked Cronenberg when accepting an Oscar for another movie) and Mortensen joins the club. What a strong, beautifully realized characterization this is; this character is smarter than he appears, obviously conflicted and understands a hell of a lot more than he’s letting on and Mortensen brings all of this across so amazingly that I’m thinking he’s finally going to get an Oscar nomination here. Other cast members are also fine (Armin Muller-Stall does solid work, though I don’t really get where all this praise for him is coming from, because I’ve seen him do this kind of thing before), with Naomi Watts providing an excellent counterpart of Mortensen and a perfect representation of “good”. I haven’t mentioned Steven Knight’s screenplay and don’t want to make it seem like I’m slighting it, because it’s an excellent piece of work in its own right and is obviously a perfect compliment to Cronenberg’s direction. Credit must go, too, to all of Cronenberg’s regular contributors, D.P. Peter Suschistky; costume designer Denise Cronenberg (his sister) and especially composer Howard Shore, who comes up with yet another brilliant score that sounds quite unlike all of the other scores he’s done for Cronenberg (are Cronenberg and Shore the best director/composer team in film history? That’s a very strong possibility). No complaints here.

So once again Cronenberg proves why he’s the best there is. A new film from Cronenberg is like a new gift from movie heaven, and once again he hasn’t let us down. Thank goodness.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Selling Comedy Isn't Pretty

The saying goes that dying is easy, but comedy is hard. But you know what's even tougher? Selling comedy, that's what.

Over the next few weeks, at least four comedies will be opening from the major studios: MR. WOODCOCK, GOOD LUCK CHUCK, SYDNEY WHITE, and THE GAME PLAN. Please allow me to make something clear here: I have not seen any of these pictures. I will not be criticizing any of the films themselves because I don't know if they're really good or bad or not. However, there is another question at hand here - do I want to? Are these comedies being sold in a manner that makes me say, "Hey, I'd like to see that". The answer to that is a very simple no. Actually, it's a big, fat motherfucking no, thank you very much.

Promoting comedies is not a job I would ever envy because it can be so damn difficult sometimes and if you don't do it right then no one goes. There are various comedy classics that happen to have classic trailers, give you enough laughs in a 2-minute trailer to make you anticipate the movie for months on end. I remember seeing the trailer to THE NAKED GUN about 2 months prior to the film's theatrical release and suddenly it became a highly anticipated film for me; it no doubt helped that the film was hysterically funny throughout and that the trailer didn't give away all the best gags, but that I'm convinced that trailer alone is what drove most people into the theaters. The film was a hit the moment it opened, which was somewhat remarkable because it was based on a brilliant TV show that no one watched. On the flip side, I distinctly recall the trailer to FLETCH being one of the lamest I've ever seen (still), containing not a single laugh or even indication that the film was in any way funny. Turns out that was a case where context meant everything, because the line "Can I borrow your towel? My car just hit a water buffalo" gets a stone-faced reaction from the trailer, but now it's quoted by obnoxious jerks everywhere like a Freemasons secret code. So it can go either way.

Of the four comedies I mentioned, I think MR. WOODCOCK might have the best chance of not sucking, in part because it has a solid, funny premise (a self-help guru discovers his mother is about to marry the junior high gym coach who mercilessly terrorized him as a kid) and a very good cast. There's talk that there were a lot of reshoots with a different director (David Dobkin) along with a lot of time spent in the editing room and there's something in the trailer that seems to indicate to me that this is true. Amy Poehler is in the movie as the agent to Seann William Scott's character and she seems to spend a lot of her time insulting people, which Poehler is actually very good at, so I don't exactly mind. But this kind of stuff, while fine in the feature itself, doesn't have anything to do with the film's actual plot, so I'm guessing (and please note that I'm guessing here, as I have no contact with the MR. WOODCOCK team) that this is in there only because it gets laughs, that it was probably noted as a favorite of the test screening audiences and they want folks to have a good impression of the film. But I'm equally turned off by the poster (look, Billy Bob Thornton is holding a pair of basketballs right where his actual balls are - and his name ends with the word "cock"!) and don't have a good feeling overall. But hey, maybe I'm wrong.

Then there's the unusual case of GOOD LUCK CHUCK. The film's premise is that Dane Cook's character is a good luck charm to all of the women he meets; after he romances them and then leaves them, they all go on to meet their true love. But what were to happen when Cook meets and falls in love with Jessica Alba? I don't know, but there's an entire movie devoted to just that very premise and both Cook and Alba happen to star in it. But if you look at the latest ads and trailer to GOOD LUCK CHUCK, it gives the indication that the film is actually about a guy who falls for a sexy woman who just happens to be a total klutz. Yikes! Yeah, I'm not happy about it, either. Actually, I wasn't happy about it to begin with, since I can't stand either Cook or Alba, but let's give the film (which I haven't seen) the benefit of the doubt. My question here, however is why are they hiding the film's premise? What's wrong with telling people what the movie's really about? Is it too syrupy, too much of a chick flick for the Dane Cook "I'd never fuck a guy, but if I did, I'd fuck Dane Cook" audience? What's wrong with this idea? I have no idea, but they're hiding something and though I have no real interest in finding out, audiences will find out at the end of next week. I suspect they'll be disappointed with what they find, but hey, I could be wrong.

SYDNEY WHITE, on the other hand, seems to be a little too literal in what it’s all about, making sure we understand its “SNOW WHITE goes to college” premise. And when you look at the trailer, it pretty much looks like every other Amanda Bynes movie, a plus or a minus if that’s something that appeals to you, which is to say it looks like an innocuous and forgettable TV movie. But looking at the poster, you get the idea that, perhaps, it could be something more. “College is no fairy tale” says the tagline and I’m looking at this and thinking, is this Amanda Bynes’ first “adult” movie, her introduction to serious drama? Then you realize that it stars Amanda Bynes and all thoughts of that fade away. Hey, for some people, an Amanda Bynes movie is a good thing; I think I may know who some of those people may be, and to them I say, grow the fuck up, why don’t you? Anyway, I have no idea if SYDNEY WHITE is a good movie or not, as I have not seen it, but I have Amanda Bynes’ cinematic track record to consider (HAIRSPRAY excepted) and I gotta tell you, prospects don’t look too good. But hey, I could be wrong.

Finally, we have THE GAME PLAN. Listen, I like The Rock. I think we all like The Rock. Even people who don’t know him will like him once they see him in action. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a major movie star in the making, a naturally talented and likeable performer who some day will be as big a movie star there is. But what he’s been missing so far is a major movie to make him this star. Could THE GAME PLAN be it? Perhaps. While I have not seen the film, I’m looking at this trailer and thinking to myself, “Saturday and Sunday afternoon matinees could very easily sell out on this one”. Pair The Rock with a little kid and maybe you’ve got something there. Could very well be a recipe for success, although if it’s a recipe for quality is another matter. Honestly, it doesn’t look it. You look at the poster and you see Johnson with a silly look on his face and his bulldog in a tiara and you already know every direction this movie is going in. How it will start, how it will end and what’s in the middle. Might there be some laughs? Will Johnson’s considerable charm help this movie turn a corner in my heart? I don’t know for sure, but it’s entirely possible. The one thing I know for sure is that there’s a bulldog in a tiara on the film’s poster, and no good film has ever featured a bulldog in a tiara. But hey, I could be wrong.

However, I don’t think so.

Friday, September 7, 2007

GREASE - Bad. GREASE 2 - Good!

Over at The Passionate Moviegoer (don't get confused when you link there - dude stole my background) there's a nice little re-assessment of Randel Kleiser's GREASE, which has been coasting on the "classic" reputation for a little too long now. To make this clear, the ones who have declared GREASE a classic are not the film intelligentsia, the lovers of movie musicals or even most standard movie lovers. No, GREASE started to become a "classic" some time in the early 90s, when the first Broadway revival seemed to capture the imagination of a new generation of high school classes visiting New York for the first time. While it was always popular (it's still the highest grossing musical of all time) and a hit with the young people, for some reason it got embraced all over again about ten years ago. So with it came a successful 20th anniversary theatrical re-release, an eventual DVD release, another Broadway revival and all the stuff that goes with it (whatever that is). To a lot of people, GREASE is still the word, but that doesn't make it any good.

I saw GREASE during its original theatrical release and rather enjoyed it, but then again I was a kid and that doesn't count (at least, not anymore). I caught the '98 re-release and was a little surprised by how lame the movie was when people weren't singing; the musical numbers do have that "oomph" that's missing from the rest of the film, since the songs are good and Travolta and Olivia are just right for their parts. But outside of that, GREASE just lies there helpless, a collection of mostly dumb jokes and mid-70s HAPPY DAYS-style nostalgia. In truth, this is its biggest problem, because it's attempting to be retro and hip but it's all so obvious that it's nothing more than a series of lame sketches about the 50s. And that's pretty lame.

GREASE 2 on the other hand...

I love GREASE 2. Loooooooooooooove it. Don't know why, but I do. Oh wait, maybe because it's awesome, that's why? Can't be any other reason, can there? OK, I know GREASE 2 isn't really a "good" movie, but for some inexplicable reason I enjoy it infinitely more than the original film. I think what sets it apart from GREASE, and a lot of other movies, is that it embraces its inherent goofiness. GREASE 2 is an unabashedly goofy movie, made for pre-teens (of which I was one back in '82) and not to be taken seriously for one second, but while the first film only thinks it's embracing the campiness of its era, GREASE 2 actually does. It shamelessly takes all that silliness in and has fun with the earnestness of the time. It feels a bit like an AIP musical of the era, though better made (no disrespect intended, William Asher) and has a hell of a lot more "oomph". The songs are all fun and a few of them are even standouts ("Back To School Again", "Cool Rider", "Who's That Guy?", "Prowlin'") and the cast feels right all around; this was the first showcase for Michelle Pfeiffer's talents and she's got nothing to be ashamed of here, while co-star Maxwell Caufield is perfectly likable as romantic lead. Credit director/choreographer Patricia Birch (mother of Peter Becker, one of the heads of The Criterion Collection!) for keeping the pace moving quickly and for keeping her tongue well within cheek. It's a shame that she never directed again, but I've got to say that she made a good one her only time up. And I know I'm not alone in those thoughts.

GREASE 2 fans, it's time for us to stand united. GREASE drools while GREASE 2 rules! There's no shame in enjoying GREASE 2, so say it loud and proud - I want a cool rider! Damn, that felt good.

And no, I'm not smoking crack. I just like silly movies is all.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Miles To Go Before I Sleep - DEATH PROOF Revisited

A long time ago, a younger, less wiser (but not exactly stupid), version of myself got into a debate (not heated, barely lukewarm) with a former friend's dad (always experts on everything) as to what constituted a horror film. I had referred to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (then still in theaters) as a horror film, and my debate partner disagreed, calling it a thriller instead. His point was that what made something "horror" was an element of fantasy or the unreal; if it could be grounded in reality, it couldn't be called horror. I began rattling off a list of classic titles: JAWS wasn't horror because shark attacks were real; PSYCHO wasn't horror because it had no fantasy to it (and was based on a true story). THE BIRDS, however, was horror because it wasn't realistic, since "birds don't do things like that" and THE EXORCIST was horror because, well, "no one's head can spin all the way around". It was a debate without winners or losers, but I must admit that the point always stuck with me, that if there's no fantasy to it, does that indeed make it horror? I've always maintained that it can be done, but how rarely do we see it happen? How many horror films out there are pulled from the pages of "real life". Not a lot. Real life is scary enough without trying to turn it into a shriekfest, but taking "the real world" and making it fit into the horror mold doesn't seem to be too easy a thing to do. Sure, you're always meant to identify with characters and situations in horror films, but that idea of "this could actually happen" doesn't seem to be properly utilized enough in this genre. So that's what makes Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF such a delight; it's characters and situations are very much part of a Tarantino movie, but the horror? As real as anything can be.

If you read my original GRINDHOUSE review from back in April, you'll remember that I was pretty much over the moon about DEATH PROOF and I've been waiting for an opportunity to see the film again in one form or another since my initial viewing back in April. I was able to get my hands on the upcoming DVD over the weekend and watched it pretty quickly out of the wrapping, not something I often do and one of my signs of a really good movie. Since a couple of months have passed (and since I was on such an overall movie high while watching GRINDHOUSE), I was able to look at DEATH PROOF a little clearer, though my opinion really hasn't changed all that much, because it's still the best film I've seen all year. It may not be "great" in the way PULP FICTION was, but no other film this year has been as alive as DEATH PROOF is; it's full of the joy of movies, of movie watching and movie making, not so much a film made for audiences but a film made for the love of all movies. Even the end credits are about what make movies great. If PULP FICTION was Tarantino's BREATHLESS, DEATH PROOF is his PIERROT LE FOU (did I just say that?!?).

Watching DEATH PROOF again, a few things begin to stand out. To start, the opening of each of the two segments seems to go on a little too long and contains dialog that you keep thinking should be trimmed for timing and pacing. Yes, I was watching the extended (or international) cut of the film, but there wasn't much of anything added to these bits. However, it isn't until later that you realize Tarantino is merely baiting you, making you wait for the good stuff to come. And by "good stuff", I'm talking Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike, one of the greatest sociopaths ever put on screen and probably Russell's finest performance yet. Russell works his way around Taratino's dialog beautifully (the bit where he rattles off his credits is priceless) and his interaction with the yummy Vanessa Ferlito ranks with the great Tarantino scenes in my opinion. The guy is truly dangerous, friendly when he wants you to like him and batshit as hell when he lets it all out and I've got to wonder just how much of a thrill it was for Russell to play this part. It's when he enters the film does DEATH PROOF truly become a horror film and with that it simply gets more and more intense until Tarantino brings the horror to the forefront and brings out one of the greatest moments in horror film history, the car crash. Let go all SPOILER ALERT FOR THE REST OF THE ARTICLE for those who haven't seen the film yet, though the rest of you know just what I'm talking about. Once Russell gets behind the wheel of his "movie car", truly terrifying things happen. I mean, this shit really freaked me the fuck out. I was actually in a nasty car crash at the end of last year and the memory of it is a pretty god damn unpleasant one (no one was hurt, thankfully, but my car was totaled) and Tarantino gets that fear down better than any director I've ever seen. The scene of the crash, all that leads up to the hit (great song choice, too) and the actual moment of impact (seen from five viewpoints) is simply brilliant and is one of the all-time great horror moments in movie history. It probably seems like I'm just a geeky fanboy gushing over Tarantino, but I've got to tell you, with this scene he fucking nailed what true horror is and he did it without slipping into fantasy. All I can say is, it's a moment that I will truly never forget.

Going into the film's second half (the one that gets considerably more extended in the international cut), the horror is mixed with a sense of excitement, as our new characters are thrill seekers themselves, out on a pretty cool set of adventures that Stuntman Mike decides to, uh, butt in on. So again, we get something incredibly nerve-wracking and scary as fuck. But it doesn't stay that way. Tarantino wisely turns the tables and gives us an opportunity to see Stuntman Mike get his, giving the film a satisfactory ending that's unique to the horror genre (which usually doesn't end so happily). In doing so, he also makes it something else not seen too often in the genre, a female empowerment tale, and again, it's all the better for it (Kim Morgan's Huffington Post appreciation of this is highly recommended reading). Making Mike a danger to women and having these strong women beat him (literally) at his own game makes it all the more thrilling, because, in a sense, it answers the genre's many critics who have held the genre up to charges of sexism for so long. It takes a geeky horror fanboy to have made the strongest women's genre picture since ALIENS and the fact that it is a women's picture makes DEATH PROOF just a little bit better. Now, I had heard an interesting theory put forth by a well-known film writer (not me) that Tarantino was playing games with us again, that he was actually switching time periods around on us and that DEATH PROOF's second half was actually the story's first half. Well, turns out this isn't right, as the new cut makes it very clear that it's set 14 months later, but it would have been interesting if he did, Mike's actions (if part one were indeed part two) would have a backstory to them, as well, and would show him off to be even more of a dangerous scumbag than he is. Would that make it less of a "women's picture"? Yes and no. Yes because, in a sense, Mike's getting away with murder, but no because we'll know that Mike can be whipped by the same sex he's out to destroy. He can murder all he wants to, but his power will always be diminished since he's not the man he seems to think he is; we will always know that he got his ass whupped real hard by the so-called "weaker sex". If you ask me, I find that fascinating. But then again, it's not the case, so never mind.

OK, I've been prattling on about this for far too long now. DEATH PROOF is awesome. If you saw it once, see it again, and if you didn't see it, see it soon. It's something fresh and new and yet old and smelly and that's a wonderful thing. I have no doubt I will watch it again soon.