When the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double feature was in theaters earlier this year, I loved Tarantino's half, Death Proof, so much that I went back to see just his feature a second time. There's something about the long stretches of inconsequential conversations interrupted just twice with amazing action/horror sequences that works and works well. Since it was advertised as a non-stop action/horror movie about a maniac who stalks and kills girls with his car and since it followed Rodriquez's fast-paced (but forgettable) Planet Terror, Death Proof did take some getting used to. Once I accepted the film's unexpected structure, though—35 minutes of dialogue, 5 minutes of action, 30 minutes of dialogue, 20 minutes of action, the end—I had a blast.
Girls talking and talking offer a funny slice of (Tarantino) life, especially entertaining when coming out of the mouths of the great Sydney Poitier (Sidney's daughter) and Tracie Thoms—I would listen to these women talk about anything. And all this talk just makes the action/horror scenes, all the much more powerful, culminating with a 20-minute, stuntastic, non-CG car chase to end all car chases.
The extended cut of Death Proof (the version that was screened at Cannes) was just released on DVD, and it's even better than the theatrical cut. The 20 minutes of extra dialogue—restructuring things with 45 minutes of dialogue, 5 minutes of action, 40 minutes of dialogue, 20 minutes of action—doesn't bog down the movie. In fact, it makes the film a funnier, richer, and more layered experience.
Death Proof is not for everyone. You have to be in the right state of mind for girls trash talking for an hour and ten minutes and for Kurt Russell using his car as a murder weapon and for a violent female-revenge climax. But if these things intrigue you, I bet you'll be rooting for those chicks to seriously kick the bad guy's ass and kick it hard by the end.
One additional note: the Death Proof soundtrack may very well be Tarantino's best, ending with April March's "Chick Habit." Hear it here. You'll love it: