Saturday, March 31, 2007


It's a blood fest and a love fest, Grindhouse is. The double feature project -- homages to the exploitation pics that ran the grunge circuit of shabby urban theaters and nowheresville drive-ins in the '60s and '70s -- hail from best buds Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. RR's is a zombie pic called Planet Terror, and QT's is Death Proof, a car chase/slasher mash-up. They open, together, April 6.

Interviewed (separately) by phone from L.A. where they were hawking their wares at a weekend-long press junket, the writer-directors talked a little about what they admire in each other's work.

Rodriguez on Tarantino: "There’s stuff that he does differently than me. Like his action scenes are done reel-for-reel [no fancy visual effects -- just the real action, shot in real time, like the 90 MPH muscle car chase sequences in Death Proof.] That lends itself a realism that’s spectacular. I don’t think I would want to do it that way, because I would just be too afrad of getting myself or one of the actors hurt. I would do it on green screen.
"I just thought it was really awesome that he went and did it the old-school way with stunt guys from that era who had been dying to do that kind of thing again. You can just tell that it’s the real deal."

Tarantino on Rodriguez: "The thing that always blows me away about Robert is his terrrific editing. I think he’s one of the greatest director/editors whoever lived. He’s right up there with Russ Meyer and Eisenstein.
"But to me, with Robert, it’s about a shot -- he comes up with some cool shot that just feels like a comicbook artist drew it. When he does those kinds of things, that’s what really gets me thinking, `Hey, maybe there’s something to this whole green screen thing.' He’s literally able to draw his frames in, practically the way a comicbook artist would draw his frames in. To me, the shot of the year, the year he came out with Sin City, was that shot of Marv, Mickey Rourke, frantically swimmng away from the cars and buildings in the background through the water.
"And here, in Planet Terror, he has a shot of Cherry, you know, Rose McGowan, being pulled away in the air in a helicopter. It's this magnificent kind of closing monment for a sequence that’s just poetic and wonderful."

Monday, March 05, 2007


Two of the biggest hits in the multiplexes right now -- the male menopause buddy pic Wild Hogs and the Satanic comicbook actioner Ghost Rider -- have more than mere motorcycles in common. They both have that long-haired, bird-flippin', American-flag-wearin' hippie biker dude from the seminal 1969 counter-culture classic, Easy Rider, in the cast.

Yup, Peter Fonda -- whose portrayal of Wyatt, a.k.a. Captain America, in Easy Rider, made the Son-of-Hank an iconic figure in the flower power days of the Age of Aquarius -- is jokin' around with the likes of paunchy suburbanites Tim Allen and Martin Lawrence at the end of Wild Hogs (Fonda shows up as the founding father of a biker gang called the Del Fuegos). In Ghost Rider, the 67-year-old Fonda is no less a figure than Mephistopheles himself, and as such, the proprietor of the soul of a crazed motorcycle stunt man, Monsieur Ghost Rider (Nicolas Cage).

So almost forty years later, Fonda, nominated for a screenplay Oscar for Easy Rider (with co-scriber, and co-star, Dennis Hopper, and author Terry Southern), is trading on his anti-establishment, chopper-hits-the-blacktop image. Whatever happened to that other Peter Fonda, the one who scored serious thespian cred -- and a best actor Academy Award nomination -- for the great little 1997 indie, Ulee's Gold?

Get your motor runnin'....