Death Proof – Film Review

In this film review I will be tackling Death Proof – a film that had some wonderful, comedic moments, but was also tainted by overindulgent dialogue that seemed to go on… and on… and on…

And on…

I know it’s a Quentin Tarantino movie, and that’s one of the elements you’d to expect when watching one, but this film’s dialogue wasn’t that interesting if I’m being honest. Yes, it’s great listening to a group of girls talk about sex and shit (I use that word loosely – they didn’t once bring up scatology), but after a while it becomes an impotent affair.

The film is split into two acts. The first act follows a group of girls to a bar, who are soon to get killed by some weird stalker guy with a stunt car that he’s dubbed ‘death proof’. His name is Stuntman Mike (played by Kirk Russell). I wished his character was developed more: it was a bit too one-dimensional for my liking. We don’t even know why he’s stalking these girls and killing them! Sure, it hints at how he possibly gets a sexual kick out of it, but to me, the viewer, it just comes a cross as cowardly to the highest degree. I would have liked the film to have explored this avenue more, giving Stuntman Mike more depth to why he’s hell bent on killing people, using his car.

Don’t get me wrong – I did enjoy parts of this film, such as when one of the girls gave Stuntman Mike a lap dance in the bar. I liked the fact she was wearing flip flops whilst she was doing it (the director apparently has a foot fetish). Come to think of it, there is a lot of exposed feet in this flick, which tells me that this Quentin isn’t afraid to indulge in his desires, which is fine – just don’t bore me (like you did with the dialogue). It’s a shame the film didn’t keep to the tone of the latter half of the movie, because if he’d kept the tone a 100% goofy violent comedy, then this could have been [possibly] my favourite movie by him, but instead it falls short of that mark by a long way. I don’t know a lot about the back story of this, but it comes off as a rushed project, or a project with no real focused identity or vision, which is strange considering what he’s done previously and after this film.

Another scene I enjoyed in this movie what when Mike gives a blonde girl a lift home, but then tells her directly that he has no intention of doing so. That bit of dialogue there was actually very good, very Tarantinoesque (i.e. he gets the character to explain to another character that they have no option but to do as they say). I was a bit shocked by the way the girl died inside the stunt car, but I should have seen it coming really – the fact that she didn’t have a proper seat, and that there was a divider between them in the car was a bad omen (plus the fact she got in the car with a guy who had photos of the girls pinned to his pull down mirror. Creep much?

And then he does a head-on collision with the group of girls, killing them but surviving because of his ‘death proof’ car. And 14 months later, he’s at it again, stalking another group of girls. And I’m thinking, doesn’t this guy have any healthy hobbies he could pursue instead of his insatiable lust of killing groups of women? Like scrabble, for instance?

But the bully gets his comeuppance this time around, as the second group of girls manage to flip his car, and pull him out of it. They form a circle and take turns plummeting punches into his pitiful face, until one of them roundhouse kicks him to the ground. ‘The end,’ it says on the screen abruptly. I thought this was a satisfying ending as that worm of a man, Stuntman Mike, didn’t deserve to be on this earth with that sick perverted attitude of his. He was scum in a scum bucket, and thankfully the girls prevailed in the end – hurrah!

In this car chase that came before his capturing, there was some epic stunts done by the character played by Zoe Bell, in which she climbs onto the bonnet of the Dodge Challenger, using two belts that have been pinched in the car doors for balance.

Just because this film has many flaws and bores packed in it, it did still have it’s moments, and when those came up on the screen, the viewing experience was a pleasurable one. But because this is a film that couldn’t make up what kind of film it wanted to be, and could have done with about 30 minutes less of dialogue taken out, I have to award this motion piccy a fairly low score of:

6/10

Kes – Film Review

Wowee! Never has a film totally swung my opinion of it from one extreme to another like this one. At first, I thought this film was a depressing clump of autobiographical drool, a way of showing how people a few decades ago in the lower working classes have no chance in hell of amounting to anything other than what their environment presented towards them. Just look at how that job advisor gave Billy – the young boy we follow throughout this film – only two options: manual work or office work. And it’s obvious this kid doesn’t want to do any of these things, especially to work down the mine shaft (he explodes in adolescent anxieties when this is ever mentioned).

Thankfully though, there is a small glint of a light beacon in Billy’s life to escape the downtrodden life paved already for him – his pet Kestrel, which he gives the name ‘Kes’. He looks after this bird, feeding it raw meat and training it to come back to him from gradually increasing distances. There’s a bond on that screen between them, and I found this really endearing and, if I’m being frank, it warmed the cockles of my heart, as I’m sure (if you’re anything like me), you have fond memories of escapism still lurking of your childhood in the rivers of your mind. But alas, Billy has many, many life struggles he has to deal with on a regular basis: he has to share a bed with his older, mean brother, and his father left them at an earlier age, leaving his mother angry and bitter. School isn’t any much better either: he gets picked on by some of the other kids, and gets into fisticuffs with a few. And the teachers aren’t caring towards him, most of all his PE teacher, whom after losing in a football match against the kids, trapped Billy in the showers and turned the water stone cold. In fact, Billy is surrounded by cold, cold, cold, and even though he’s so young (though his face looks like he’s never had a single good night’s sleep in his life) he’s wise enough to understand the sad situation he has been born into.

There is one teacher who takes an interest in Billy’s past time of kestrel training, after hearing Billy stand before his class and give a presentation on what he does. Everybody’s ears are listening intently to what Billy has to say; and even though he is perceived as a wrong un by most, the passion that comes through when he talk about  Kes is so genuine, so beautiful, that you forget all that. And looking from the outside, looking in, I can see that Billy is just a misunderstood kid to some degree, and prejudice has shrouded his life in a bad reputation. But on the flip side, he doesn’t help himself by stealing newpapers, milk bottles, and by stealing a book on Kestrels from a shop (after being told how he can’t take a book out of the library as he is too young to without someone 21 years of age to sign for him).

But to some extent, the fact Billy can’t use the library freely, and that nobody is there to encourage him to pursue his ambitions, or to give him self-belief and direction, tells me [based on the film] that society limits our desire, but breeds our miseries, depending on the environment we come from. It’s restrictive to free spirits, and Billy is an example of someone who is almost ashamed to tell the world that he wants to not work as a typical manual worker or office worker, but follow his desire and his love of kestrel training. He never does say this though, but it’s so god damn obvious to the viewer that he never has to.

And this is what changed my mind about Kes the film as I thought about more and more, as I lay in bed, thinking about what I’d just watched hours earlier. I’ll admit right now that I’d been a bit tired after having a long day doing nothing, so was drifting in and out of a state of half sleep as I watched the first 20 minutes of the film, but after that it really broke the spell and gained my complete attention. The realism of this story is what shocked me, and the whole film makes profound sense by the very last scene, where Billy finds his Kes had been killed by his older brother out of spite. He brings the Kestrel’s corpse into the house (finding it in the garbage bin), and swings it’s lifeless, limp body around the room, showing his brother and mother the damage done. The damage being his shattered dreams, and how his pessimistic background, environments, and the structured expectancy of society has closed Billy up like a clam who is unable to show the world the pearl he holds inside; and now that pearl, that glimmer of hope, has been eradicated by those closest to him.

At first, I just thought that this was a reflection on the director’s own pessimistic outlook, but then I did a teeny-weeny bit of research and found that the story had been adapted from a novel. Okay, so it’s possible for two people to share the same ideology, but then I found my father (he was watching the film with me) saying how this was exactly how his childhood was. And then it hit me, after putting together all the snippets of stories he’d told me of his own youth throughout the years, how he wasn’t lying. And if I take it a step further, I can see the correlations of this story in my own life, in my own generation of a lower class society, and how this effects the way we all approach life on a mental level. The old saying ‘crabs in a bucket’ comes in to play here – how nobody in your class necessarily want to see you climb out of the circumstances you’ve inherited, and this film demonstrates three levels of that: the class of family, the school class, and the work class. And everybody I know has a hobby/a ‘Kes’ they use to vacate their minds from the stresses of life, and how we all need a rope of hope to keep our positivity alive for greater things. I’m not saying hope is an illusion, no way – hope is a necessity, because without it, you’re doomed to the gloom around you. Yet it all just depends what lenses you view life through, because it’s all out there – a spectrum of good and evil –  and it’s all a matter of perception, how you see things. In a strange way, this film Kes is a rather hopeful story, even though on the surface it’s depressing as shit, because it can be used as the perfect allegory of how you should never let anyone tell you what you should and shouldn’t do with your life (or at least bow down to it). You’ve got to fight for what you want, and that mostly happens on a mental level, whereby you have to tough it out and proclaim to those around you, and the world, that this is who I am, and this is what I want to be and how I want to spend my life. Because after all, this is your life we are talking about here.

Part of me wants to watch his again, just in case I missed something. But I feel it’s save enough for me to reward this film what I’m about to award it, seeing as it transcends the experience of most films for me (it’s always a good sign when a film gets you thinking about it, long after you’ve watched it – all my favourite films do that to me).

I give this film (for the meantime): 9/10