Tarantino's F***ed Cannes Heist
Not that I don't appreciate the privilege of seeing a longer Death Proof—I positively adored it at 87 minutes on the bottom-half of the ill-fated Grindhouse double bill. But whoever encouraged the Cannes Film Festival to advertise its new cut at "2h07" (i.e., 127 minutes)—director Quentin Tarantino, perhaps, or (more likely) the Weinstein Co.'s Stuntman Harv—is practically begging for a long ride on the fuckin' roof of the white Dodge Challenger, sans straps. I mean, the goddamn thing is no fuckin' longer than 113 tops—I fuckin' timed it—but that didn't stop Stuntman Harv from bum-rushing the Death Proof press conference yesterday to say that "you're missing the essence of Tarantino" at 87 (pffff...), and that the new cut, when it's released internationally, "will dwarf Grindhouse—trust me." Fuck, man. Does anyone, even Tarantino, trust Harvey Weinstein at this point?
Near the end of the press conference, which had QT literally sweating with enthusiasm for his movie and its many sources, a journalist asks Monsieur Grindhouse how he feels about writers having been requested by Harvey's crew to pay $1,500 apiece for a seat at the Cannes Death Proof junket. Whoa—can we run this wicked vérité action scene in slo-mo? First shot: Extreme close-up of QT, who says he doesn't "get" the question... Cut to long-shot of Stuntman Harv's dutiful assistant slithering toward the dais and stopping to whisper something insinuating in QT's ear... Cut to QT as another sweat-drop falls, repeating that he doesn't know what this is all about... And finally a shot of dialogue moderator Henri Behar diplomatically declaring that this is a discussion for after the press conference, s'il vous plaît. After you mean like at night on the Weinstein yacht in the middle of the fuckin' Mediterranean or some shit?
Oh, well—no actual proof of impropriety here, right? So even though the powers that be were awfully quick to take that particular question off the table, we gotta be safe and assume that no writer in Cannes under any circumstances was asked to pay $1,500 in order to do his duty at a Weinstein Co. Death Proof junket. But Harv—it's a fuckin' good idea, right? Charge a hundred poor, fuckin' badly dressed fanboy bloggers and weekly print stringers—some of 'em likely with little or no health insurance (though they might get some after you put out Sicko in June)—and, voilà, you got a cool $150,000 to put toward the tens of millions you stand to fuckin' lose on Grindhouse! I'm just sayin', Harv—it's not a bad idea. Make the kids pay for their own press coverage! Kinda in the '70s cut-rate grindhouse spirit for a millionaire movie executive to come and shake down the working press in Cannes, right? Just something for you to think about...
But I digress, dear reader. You want more Proof, don't you? Okay, you got it. As you might've guessed, gorgeous Butterfly (Vanessa Ferlito) finally does her big Texas Chili Parlor lapdance for Kurt Russell's icy-hot villain in a scene that QT invests with as much meta-movie passion as a fuckin' car chase or shootout or samurai showdown. Butterfly's tailfeather-shakin' shit is ridiculously, hilariously hot—even, it seems, for the lady from Uzbekistan who pipes up during the press conference to thank QT for his kick-ass female-empowerment movie on behalf of "all the women of Central Asia." Another new scene that features payback chicks Abernathy (Rosario Dawson) and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)—unaccountably projected in bad black and white (and extending Tarantino's charming foot fetishism even further)—lets us know that Abby keeps the Kill Bill whistle theme as her cell phone ring, and that the quicky-mart in Lebanon, Tennessee, carries on its racks not just B-list teen-fashion mags like the one for which dim-bulb Lee spreads her love, but, believe it or not, Film Comment as well. (As FC editor Gavin Smith giddily told me: "Well, now it's my favorite movie in Cannes, of course.")
Me, I'd say Death Proof actually works better in Grindhouse, where it appears as the sort of unheralded drive-in slop that starts really fuckin' late, after you're totally fried in one way or another, and puts everyone in the car to sleep with its low-budget yadda-yadda-yadda—except for the one guy in the back of the van who declares, just before the butt-crack of dawn, "Shit, you fuckin' guys missed it! That movie was sweet!" Still, out on its own, running at a bullshit "127 minutes" (note to Stuntman Harv: Least you can do is put Death Proof out stateside this year so I can Top 10-list it), there's a fuckin' lot to love.
In short, as speed-freak boo-ya babe Kim (Tracie Thomas) would say: "Not that Angelina Jolie bullshit!"