We did have cleverish things to say about the opening weekend box office disappointment that was "Grindhouse," but somehow, yesterday, other things got in the way, and now we’re hard-pressed to care. Here, look at what other people have said:
"First of all, I’m incredibly disappointed. We tried to do something new and obviously we didn’t do it that well," Harvey told me today. "It’s just a question of how is it going to hang in there. But we could split the movies in a couple of weeks. Make Tarantino‘s a full-length film, and Rodriguez‘s too. We’ll be adding those ‘two missing reels’ that’s talked about in the movie." (At one point in Grindhouse, a sex scene is interrupted because of "two missing reels" — one of the many conceits and indulgences.)
Though we don’t think these things will actually happen, that scoop makes her the winner, according to Stu VanAirsdale at The Reeler, who rounds up and ranks other coverage. Ty Burr, over at the Boston Globe, makes the most grounded point of all: "[I]t’s a three hour movie, which means fewer showtimes (twice as few as the 92-minute ‘Are We Done Yet?’)." Elsewhere, Film Fatale writes that "that marketing campaign was downright nasty," and might have driven away female viewers. Time‘s Richard Corliss, in a review that ran on Friday, astutely noted that "Planet Terror" and "Death Proof," for all their proclamations of exploitation film fandom, eschew the cornerstone of the genre â€” easy, sleazy eroticism.
In both "features" of Grindhouse, the MISSING REEL card flashes as a sex scene has just begun. That’s a comment on the old days, but it also proves that when it comes to eroticism, of the true or even exploitation variety, these directors are such cowards. If they use sex at all, it is in the horror-film mode pioneered by Alfred Hitchcock‘s Psycho. Show a woman in a shower, then kill her. The impulse is both prurient and puritanical; they provide a brief voyeuristic pleasure, then feel obliged to punish the women, and the audience, and themselves.
In the New Yorker, David Denby declares that "Tarantino obviously likes his characters a great deal, but heâ€™s caught in the contradictions of making an hommage Ã schlock: he has to kill the women in order to set up the rest of the movie. Itâ€™s as if he couldnâ€™t decide whether to be a humanist or a nihilist, so he opportunistically becomes both."
In other post-"Grindhouse" pieces flapping around the web, Ryan Gilbey at the Observer writes that "When a film is called a B-movie now, it can only be in reference to its tone or spirit: the B-movie is, to all intents and purposes, dead." (Please! Have they no direct-to-DVD market in the UK?) At Slate, Grady Hendrix grumbles about artificial grindhouse theater nostalgia: "Tarantino loves to brag about his working-class roots, but his screening room sounds more like Marie Antoinette’s le Hameau de la Reineâ€”where she and her friends played shepherdessâ€”than a real grindhouse theater. Does Tarantino also bus in tranny hookers and pay the help to mug his guests in the bathroom?"
Finally, over at the AP, Douglas J Rowe writes an ill-times piece on how "film shall inherit the earth," quoting QT:
"Somewhere along the line, people who were film geeks and people who are comic-book geeks, that kind of aesthetic started all mixing up. I think 20 years ago, if you were talking about film geeks, you literally were talking about people into the French New Wave, into that kind of study. So am I, for that matter, but for people that are the Ain’t It Cool News people, it is about the entertainment cinema," says the director who previously genuflected to genres with the "Kill Bill" movies.
We’d guess "Grindhouse" was the victim of too much faith in that geekery â€” every less than film-obsessed person we’ve spoken to about it was almost angry about "Death Proof," which may be a brilliant if insular melding of Tarantino’s signature moves with the idling formlessness of a true B-movie, but which is also not fun unless you’re in on the joke. And that, for a film built around the promise of pure, trashy enjoyment, is untenable.
+ EXCLUSIVE: Harvey Very Disappointed; May Re-Release ‘Grindhouse’ As 2 Pics (Deadline Hollywood)
+ The Grindhouse Second-Guessing Scorecard (The Reeler)
+ Where Were the GRINDHOUSE Girls? (How To Hate Away Half Your Audience) (Film Fatale)
+ Grindhouse Is Girls, Guns, Cars â€” But No Sex (Time)
+ Sleaze City (New Yorker)
+ This Old Grindhouse (Slate)
+ The film geek shall inherit the earth (AP)