For the n00bs in the audience, Grindhouse is a unique theatre experience constructed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino to replicate the old "grindhouse" flicks of the '70s. I use the term "experience" because it is truly that: you get a fake trailer at the beginning, followed by a full-length movie (Planet Terror, by Rodriguez), followed by more fake trailers and fake ads for local establishments, concluding with another full-length movie (Death Proof, by Tarantino). The film has been digitally altered to look like it's been scratched up and warped at times, and there are even missing reels, just like back in the old days. Some actors/characters show up in both movies, and even one of the fake establishments makes a small cameo on a drink cup. It's really unlike anything you've probably seen in a movie theatre for a long while, and for that reason alone, I recommend you go, if you're able to sit for three hours. The fake trailers are just as good as the movies themselves.
The main reason I recommend Grindhouse, however, is Planet Terror, which I LOVED. It's a ridiculous, balls-out (literally) zombie movie, and it's the most fun horror movie I've seen in a long time (it's better than Snakes on a Plane!). Personally, I was very impressed by how good of a movie it was, despite the B-movie qualities. It was well constructed and never boring. There's a diverse cast of characters, and, surprisingly, I ended up caring about them, which I can partly attribute to the cast, who give it their all. They don't act like they're in a cheesy, schlocky zombie apocalypse. They act like they're real small-town folk fighting for their goddamn lives. I also liked the script, which was full of repeated lines/phrases and callbacks; I'm a sucker for that shit, generally. Plus, Rodriguez composes this great main title theme that's only, like, seven notes, but it becomes this awesome leitmotif that appears throughout the film in various forms.
The movie is, of course, extremely violent and gory, with zombie heads exploding and limbs flying, and people's innards being eaten, and pus-filled boils, and all that good stuff, but it's really goddamn fun if you can take it. At one point, I turned to Seanan and said, "We are now in a Resident Evil game," and she shook my hand in glee. Besides, Rose McGowan ends up with a machine gun for a leg, and how is that not the coolest thing ever? (Of note: I didn't really care for Rose McGowan before, and I didn't even think she was hot. After seeing Planet Terror, I now love Rose McGowan and think she's totally hot. Go figure.)
Be prepared for Death Proof, however, which starts out slooooooow. You may appreciate it more if you know you have to wait for the good stuff, and it does eventually deliver the good stuff, but it's a very different movie from Planet Terror, and it's not exactly as fun because the content is more realistic and disturbing. But it sure was cool to see Tracie Thoms from Wonderfalls (and the unrecognizable Sydney Poitier, Ms. Dent from Veronica Mars) on the big screen. Generally, though, I agree with eirefaerie's review. I was not a huge fan of Death Proof, but other people I know preferred it to Planet Terror, so who knows where you'll fall?
Which half of Grindhouse did you prefer?
The next day, for a change of pace, cadhla, aiglet, danea, ellric, and I saw The Namesake, which had far fewer grisly deaths. Of main characters, at least. The scene where Kali comes down and eviscerates everyone standing around Kal Penn kind of came out of nowhere, though.
I know that a lot of you have often had trouble understanding my life, as an Indian. How I relate to my family, how marriage works, how I uphold my cultural traditions, all that business. Go see The Namesake now, and I promise you will have a better understanding about things, because many scenes in the movie hit way too close to home. The characters are Bengali, not Gujarati, and it's not a perfect mapping, but it's a lovely movie, honestly. I read reviews that criticized it for trying to put in too much of the book (which I haven't read) and meandering too much, but I didn't mind it at all because it really worked for me, the way we sort of followed these characters' lives for years, getting glimpses into the major events, seeing the relationships change. It's full of small, perfect touches that make me tear up just thinking about them.
Saturday night, I watched Final Destination 3, which I thought appropriate since it starred Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who was also in Death Proof. It wasn't as good as the first two, and I didn't enjoy it as much as I expected, which surprised me, given that I am all for Rube Goldbergian death schemes. It was interesting that the characters felt more fleshed out in Planet Terror, which wasn't even trying to be good. Sometimes it's hard to pinpoint what makes things work and not work, but I guess it's seeing when they don't work that makes you respect the talent behind the times it does.