Friday, March 09, 2007

Report from the Grindhouse Fest

"If there's one place I like to go to see my movies, [the Magic Johnson Theater is] the place. A lot of people are into the ArcLight, but I don't like the rules. I don't like the fact that you have to sit in assigned seating. That's the European approach, and I despise that stuff. They're trying to turn movies into opera. That's garbage. And you can't come in late? Hey, my audience is 15 minutes late for everything."

-Quentin Tarantino in the L.A. Times

I've seen The Mack several times, and I knew that The Chinese Mack included footage of a real, vicious dogfight, so I decided to wait for the second double feature of Quentin's grindhouse festival. I was planning on going out there Wednesday and calling in sick Thursday, but my dog ended up having surgery Wednesday, and I didn't want to leave her alone that night. She kept me awake most of the night with some kind of wheezy cough (probably a reaction to anaesthesia), so I ended up calling in sick anyway, slept most of the day, then got a Sworkuccino and headed out to The New Beverly, arriving ridiculously early. The 7:30 program didn't start until almost 8, so if you're planning on heading out there, be prepared for a long night. I finally ducked out around a quarter to midnight, and it was still going strong. (I might as well have stayed, since I couldn't sleep for shit on the caffeine I had ingested. I'm pretty exhausted right now.)

Quentin wasn't there (he had apparantly been there the night before. He may be more available for the April screenings, after he's done editing Grindhouse), but he sent along some notes for The Guy to read before the show (which eventually resulted in someone in the crowd yelling out "Just show the fucking movie!"). Then the show started with trailers for upcoming events. The Van looks like just about the quintessential 70's teen comedy. Chinese Hercules does indeed star that huge guy from Enter the Dragon and Big Trouble in Little China, and looks pretty hilarious. There were also trailers for both of Sunday's features, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and Rolling Thunder (really well-done trailer: just shows all the build-up, none of the climactic slaughter). Then, the first half of the Italian Crime Double Feature: Machine Gun McCain.

It's a pretty cool gangster movie set mostly in Vegas and Frisco. John Cassavettes plays a total badass, which is kind of a weird bit of casting, but he's pretty convincing. It's so great to see a movie with a big crowd that's really into it. You end up laughing and applauding at things that, if you were at home, you would just say "that's a good line," or maybe not even notice at all. Nice funky Morricone score--at one point, it sounded a lot like Miles Davis' "Spanish Key."

Another round of trailers before the second feature, including Italian crime flicks, Las Vegas heist movies, and a few that didn't seem to be either. It started out with Johnny Cool, which was a pretty insane trailer. Produced by Peter Lawford, featuring Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. (with eyepatch), starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery. There was also some kind of Buddy Crime Comedy with Roger Moore and Stacy Keach (!). I know there was one more that really impressed me, but I can't remember what.

The second feature, Wipeout! (with the exclamation point), is fucking insane. Just out of it's god damn mind. Henry Silva is a mob hitman who goes around killing people with a grenade launcher. Like, shooting people in the head with it. There's some absolutely offensive shit revolving around the kidnapped nymphomaniac daughter of a mafioso. There's the Italian penchant for making big gestures with your hands taken to EXTREMES. The crowd was just howling over this whole thing. You really had no idea what was going to happen next, because what had happened already was so ridiculous to begin with! God only knows how it may have ended--hopefully, I'll be able to find out some day. Another great score, too. Lots of distorted guitar and such.

The L.A. Times article is kinda neat, because it focuses a lot on Quentin's love of L.A., but it just annoys me that they make it out to be some kind of "bad movie festival." The title is "Tarantino's Grindhouse Festival celebrates cinematic cheese." First of all, I wouldn't use the word "cheesy" to describe these kinds of films, although maybe that's just my personal definition. But I don't even think describing them as "deliriously bad films" is correct. OK, some of them are bad, but I we don't like them because they're "so bad they're good." They're just fun, often crazy, movies. But whatever, it's the L.A. Times. Be sure and check the slideshow sidebar where Quentin talks about his favorite places in L.A. That's where the above quote about the Magic Johnson theater can be found. And also this note about his favorite pancake house: "The best breakfast places are in the beachside towns, and you know it's a good place if they close after lunch. A great breakfast place is closed before dinner. Uncle Bill's is a great place. In the script for 'Reservoir Dogs,' the first scene takes place there. We didn't shoot there, though; it was small inside. But that's where the script said they were." Interestingly, the place where it was actually shot--Pat and Lorraines, about 2 blocks from my house--is also closed by dinner time. I was pretty annoyed when I moved here by all the places that looked like great all-night coffeeshops (especially Cindy's on Colorado) that are closed by 8pm!

Also, Mr. Beaks has pledged to review each film at the festival. One so far.

And now, a brief look at the upcoming flicks:

The Van, Summer Camp and Pickup Summer all look like fun 70's sex comedys (OK, this stuff you could call "cheesey."} If I didn't have such a busy weekend, I might go try to catch a couple of them on Saturday.

Rolling Thunder is pretty kick-ass. Written by Paul Schraeder, a script about mentally damaged 'Nam vets who can't adjust to civillian life, much like Taxi Driver, but Rolling Thunder is more pulpy. The Town That Dreaded Sundown is apparantly a true story serial killer movie. I remember seeind ads for it as a kid. For some reason, this movie is always linked in my mind with In a Small Town in Texas, which I guess I remember seeing ads for from about the same time.

Brotherhood of Death was reviewed on AICN when it played the QT Fest in Austin. This is the big must-see of the fest for me.

I'm also definitely going to catch Ralph Bakshi's blaxploitation cartoon Coonskin. I saw it long ago, but I really need to see it again. Not sure if I'll stay for Shame of the Jungle, which looks pretty dumb. I've seen Tunnelvision a few times. I believe they showed it on USA Nightflight back in the day. It's similar to Kentucky Fried Movie or The Groove Tube, with skits united by the idea of a TV station that can show sex, violence, drug use, etc. I loved it when I first saw it (when I was maybe 16 at most, still thought Stripes was one of the funniest movies ever made and thought Fridays was equal to SNL), didn't think as much of it a few years later, but it definitely had a few laughs in it.

Don't know anything about Pretty Maids All in a Row, but Dennis C. seems to think highly of it. Revenge of the Cheerleaders is on the Cheerleaders DVD set I own, and it's pretty insane, lots of hot cheerleaders, cool soundtrack, David Hasselhoff, disco dance numbers, etc.

Never heard of Supermanchu, but with a title like that, how could it miss?

I was interested in seeing Blood Spattered Bride (possibly an influence on Kill Bill?), but I'm afraid I'll be skipping it as it's programmed opposite The Egyptian's Beatnik night.

I'll be out of town the first week or two of April, so I'll miss the amazing-looking The Female Bunch and Super Women, not to mention the premeire of Grindhouse. The following weekend will be insanely busy for me: unless I can catch Grindhouse while I'm in GA, I'll have to catch up on that, and see Hot Fuzz, for sure. I'd like to go see Hot Summer in Barefoot County (a childhood memory for Bobbie), and I DEFINITELY HAVE to see The Muthers.

OK, what else...The Swinging Cheerleaders is also on the Cheerleaders DVD. It's a Jack Hill joint, so it's quality (the only of the three cheerleader movies to make any attempt at being a real movie), but not his best work.

Grave of the Vampire has a screenplay by Sopranos creator David Chase, so that might be worth checking out. It's paired with Jailbait Babysitter, another one that seems like you couldn't go wrong with the title.

I think Zane was telling me once about The Real Bruce Lee--the one that says "we absolutely guarantee footage of the real Bruce Lee!"--it ends up being about 30 seconds of home movies of Bruce Lee when he was 6 or something. That's all I really know.

Also, check out these neat-o images from the not-gonna-happen Kill Bill comic!

One more thing I'm going to shoehorn into this post, sorta tangentially related, AICN is doing a retrospective series on the movies of 1982 ("The Best Genre Year Ever!"), and the first installment, Nordling reminiscing about E.T., is really fantastic. Made me cry--and I'm not even that big an E.T. fan (I'm a couple years older, so I guess I was about at that age where seeing a "kids movie" was stigmatized, which is funny since I was considering Heavy Metal and The Sword and the Sorceror to be mature cinema, I guess). I never really thought about the fact that all these movies they talk about came out the same year, I just remembered they were all movies I saw on HBO when I was in my early teens. Anyway, good stuff.


Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I'm insanely jealous ... Yet another reason living in the middle of damn nowhere often just sucks for me!

3/10/2007 4:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hahaha. I love the ArcLight, but seeing QT show some "anti-snoot" is kinda awesome.

3/12/2007 11:05 PM  
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10/16/2012 12:21 PM  

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