The person behind the TV show Spaced.
Shaun of the Dead (2004) -- A bit of a surprising movie. If you're expecting a stupid zombie movie parody, it's not at all that, though it is very funny. But it's also just as much (or more) a movie about relationships (romantic, friendly, familial, and more). And it actually is a real zombie movie that has more frights than most "straight" horror films. The 30 minute lead-up where the main characters have no clue that there are zombies is perfect, and for someone not expecting them, it might take the viewer a while to put their finger on what's going on as well. A fun and funny movie with a new and interesting tone.
Grindhouse (2007) -- Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, featuring Eli Roth and Rob Zombie. I'll talk about the separate parts first, then the collection as a whole. First, the trailers. Robert Rodriguez's "Machete" was good, and the most realistic. It didn't just go for laughs, but looked like something that may have actually existed. Rob Zombie's "Werewolf Women of the S.S." was great. Really goofy, and the only place where you'll find Udo Kier and Nicholas Cage in the same movie. Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" was the most hilarious and almost believable as one of those horror-on-holiday movies. Edgar Wright's "Don't Scream" was probably my favorite, with an old trailer style that I remember seeing a lot of in those days, complete with annoying repetition. Huge smiley faces all around for all the trailers and the other 70s-style movie bits that were thrown in that made the entire experience fun. On to Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror. I liked this one a lot. A simple, gross mutant movie with the ridiculous (in a good way) premise that Bruce Willis had killed Osama Bin Laden. Rose McGowan was really sexy and was paired well with Freddy Rodriguez. All of the actors and characters were cool and likeable, which is important in a movie like this where you should care if they're eaten or raped or whatever. A big, fun smiley face for the first half of the movie. Now Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof. Ug. Tarantino hadn't made a bad movie to this point, but here it is. First we're introduced to three really annoying girls, the most annoying of which is Sidney Portier, whose father apparently -- instead of giving her acting lessons -- said to her, "Just cock and bobble your head around every time you talk." When these three girls eventually got killed by the supercharming Kurt Russell, I was happy. Rose McGowan was the only one in the first part of this movie worth saving, which is what made her death actually work. We liked her, and it made Kurt Russell seem that much more evil for killing her. So already we've been annoyed for many minutes by the worst dialogue QT has ever written... and then he does it again! With four new, even more annoying, girls. They sit at a table while the camera moves around them Reservoir Dogs style, but this time they're not talking about interesting (or at least realistic) stuff like the meaning of "Like a Virgin" or whether or not to tip. They're talking about stuff so boring that I barely remember what they were talking about. Only the cheerleader girl who likes Pretty in Pink is somewhat likeable, but the audience is meant to think she's stupid. So when Kurt Russell eventually goes after them too (after some more annoying stuff about how the girls are going to "con" some hillbilly by leaving their Pretty in Pink friend to be raped by him), I would imagine we're supposed to wish that he'd kill them off as well. But no! We're apparently supposed to be on their sides, and the movie ends with them killing him (or at least beating the shit out of him). Hoorah? If the premise of this movie was that some old stunt guy from the 70s was on a mission to kill modern-day bitches, then I'd be all for that. It's supposed to be an exploitation movie, after all, so it would make perfect sense. But you can't show bitchy girls, a charming guy, and pretend that the bitches are the heroes and he's the villain. It's one of my many illogical aspects of this movie. The other thing that doesn't work is the style. It's fine if you want everyone to dress 70s, the cars to be 70s, to play 45s in the juke box, etc. and have text messaging, but what you can't do is have a character in the movie make fun of Kurt Russell for "crawling out of a time machine" when the entire set has crawled out of a time machine. It would be like someone in Blue Velvet saying that something "looked like the 1950s." And speaking of text messaging, why do we have to watch text messaging for ten minutes? There are several "threads" in the movie that never go anywhere. There's a line in Death Proof where Kurt Russell talks about one of the girls' bruised feelings because the guys weren't all over her. It made him wise, it made her almost likeable because she knew he was right, and it was the only line in the movie where Tarantino displayed any of the sensitivity to feelings and words that he's been known for in his other fantastic movies. Too bad the rest of the dialogue-drenched movie sucked so bad, making the would-be-cool action sequences suck as a result. Now for Grindhouse as a whole. Too long! Each movie should have been an hour apiece. It would have helped the flow of the entire piece, and it would have actually given a reason for the "missing reel" of both movies (explaining why it was twenty minutes or so shorter than a normal film). Even Planet Terror got old after a while, and a significant reducing of Death Proof would have helped to save it (though a rewrite and re-cast of the seven girls is what was really needed). The length doesn't fit the intended effect either: over three hours feels epic, while the movies are supposed to feel quick and fun. Of course, a quick fix would be to turn off the movie right before Tarantino's begins.
Hot Fuzz (2007) -- In the same way that Shaun of the Dead made both a parody and a truly good zombie movie, Hot Fuzz makes both a parody of action movies but also one of the best action movies I've ever seen. Where most action movies are just stupid, this one uses that stupidity and gives you permission to fully enjoy every gun blast. The transformation of Simon Pegg from straight-laced cop to reckless explosion cop is natural and actually makes sense, unlike the movies they are doing parodies of. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are also smart enough to go beyond stuff like Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys and actually dig into stuff like The Wicker Man. In many ways, this is a better remake of The Wicker Man than Neil LaBute's version from 2006. It even featured Edward Woodward as the bad guy. Super funny, and will actually get you pumped.
Copyright (c) Apr 2005 - Apr 2007 by Rusty Likes Movies