Thursday, May 24, 2007

Everything Is Everything AKA Dartflix Edition #16

I was going to write a big post in praise of Grindhouse and as fate would have it, my boy Dallas Penn beat me to it . For some this means that they should just come up with something else to write about...for me it just means I have to step my pen/keyboard game up. The reason I called this post “Everything Is Everything” is not just because it looks cool or it sounds good or even because it’s the name of two of my favorite albums (Donny Hathaway and Brand Nubian). It’s because I believe that everything is nature and the physical world is connected by invisible threads that the naked eye can’t see. I also believe that different kinds of art and entertainment that most people might think are dissimilar may be more alike than you think.

Take for instance the filmmaking tandem of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. Ever since they were children they both knew what they wanted to do with their lives, make movies. They also both loved studying people and music. They both shared the belief that without understanding the basic dynamics of human interaction and how music can either set the mood of a scene or a film as a filmmaker you are doomed from the beginning. As they got older they also noticed that editing was also a crucial part of cinema as well and they looked for any and every film of any genre to watch and ingest. They were like sponges, watching scenes that worked over and over again as well as ones that didn’t to avoid those same mistakes in their future films.

They took jobs that allowed them to pursue their chosen path in life. They did everything possible to see that their dream of becoming filmmakers would come true. Quentin dropped out of school at 16 in order to get the money to make his dream happen and Robert Rodriguez spent every dime he had on making small films. He even subjected his own body to scientific studies and experiments in order to earn the money to make his first feature film, “El Mariachi”. When the two met, they instantly bonded. Soon, they began discussing film and music. Then, they began sharing ideas and working together. The reason that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s films work so well is because they respect the art of filmmaking and study it incessantly. To them it is the ultimate way to communicate with the world around them. They want every frame, every single inch of film to relay a message because they take it seriously. What they make is where bloody body parts fly around on the screen but art nonetheless.
Grindhouse is an homage to the exploitation films of the late 50’s to late 70’ know, the kind of movies film geeks go to campus theaters and arthouses to watch regularly. Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez would sit in their home theaters and watch classic westerns, Kung Fu movies, horror flicks and international films with their other musician, actor and filmmaker fiends like RZA, Paul Thomas Andersen, Jim Jarmisch, Sophia Coppolla, Samuel L. Jackson, Fiona Apple, Laurence Bender, Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, etc. After watching a few of these films in one of their afternoon film screenings at Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas the guys decided to make a film that was an homage to the exploitation film double features they went to as kids and adolescents.

The double feature bills Rodriguez’s “Planet Terror” alongside Tarantino’s “Death Proof”. Not only did they both write and direct their own features, they both scored them as well. When was the last time you saw a film that the director had his hand in every facet of it’s creation? How about two of them back to back? Tarantino and Rodriguez’s films are all about their close circle of friends and family. Robert Rodriguez’s ex wife is a producer and his children and family often appear in his films (his nieces are the Crazy Babysitter Twins in “Planet Terror”). These movies are in the vein of previous great films by both directors as Rodriguez has made classics like “El Mariachi”, Four Rooms” , “Desperado”, “Once Upon A Time In Mexico” and “Sin City” in the past and Quentin Tarantino has made classics like “Reservior Dogs”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Four Rooms”, “From Dusk Til Dawn”, “Kill Bill 1 & 2” and “Sin City”. Not only are they filmmakers and tastemakers, but they have produced other films and advocated the import and releases of foreign films that audiences in America weren’t aware of before (such as "Black Mask", "Iron Monkey", and "Battle Royale").

Not only did they make a another great film that will go largely ignored by the general public in favor of lighter, more family friendly fare. Not only did they make another film that the public at large wouldn’t appreciate nearly as much as it should have (again) due to content, concept and running time. Not only did they ignore the studios marketing advice and come up with their own marketing strategies, but they succeeding in getting the final product (for the most part...wait until the DVD drops) THEY wanted on those screens...something that very few directors ever get to do. Instead, they allow commerce to ruin their art. Not Quentin and Robert. They’re proactive as opposed to reactionary in regards to the studio and it’s censors and their directives, which is why they usually win and concede when necessary (just to add the footage to the DVD later). Shit, movie studios are fighting over the rights to make Grindhouse 2 based on the trailers I included above...what does that tell you about their collective marketing sense?

Just imagine if more rappers on the market now had the same passion, drive and creativity that Rodriguez and Tarantino did for their films in regards to their music. Imagine if they studied the masters and were more determined not to put out wack material because it disrespected the art of Hip Hop. What if more rappers paid homage to the greats and originators? What if more rappers today had it in their heads that making half ass watered down material in order to gain favor with commercial interest and gain mainstream appeal isn’t the way to go (What if people didn't consider rappers/emcees "too old" once they hit many actors,screenwriters and directors don't even get their careers off the ground until then!) Then again, record labels are only interested in the bottom line and they wouldn’t sign anyone that’s looking to make art (unless they are among the rare breed of artists that have mainstream success and devote themselves to their art like a Kanye West or Just Blaze does).

These men continue the legacy that Melvin Van Peebles, John Cassavetes, Brian DePalma, Martin Scorsese, Jamaa Fanaka, Francis Ford Coppola, Terry Gilliam and Spike Lee began by not letting Hollywood or the powers that be contaminate their art and make film into a cookie cutter version of what it’s supposed to be (like commerce has done to mainstream rap music). Go see this movie now!

What the future holds for comic book cinema:


The Dark Knight

Iron Man


Hellboy 2: The Golden Army

Dart’s Top Fives Trailers Of The Rest Of May (5/16/07-5/31/07):

Brooklyn Rules


The Last Legion

Shoot ‘Em Up

Hostel: Part 2

Dart’s Top Three International Late Film Trailers (5/16/07-5/31/07):

The Tournament (UK)

Crows Zero (JP)

Small Town Folk (UK)

Dart’s Pick- Indie Film Of The Month Bonus Trailer:

Props to the director, Florian Gaag. Add the films MySpace page as well here:

Top new sites to see flim clips & trailers:

Movies you should consider seeing now available to rent through Netflix:
How To Eat Your Watermelon In White Company And Enjoy It
Harsh Times
Duane Hopwood
The Maid (Kelvin Tong)
The Good Shepherd
10th& Wolf
Amongst Friends
Hell’s Kitchen
Street Mobster
Ride With The Devil
American Psycho
Pray (Ryuichi Sato)
Three Burials Of Melquis Estrada
Who Killed The Electric Car?
Little Athens
Huricane Streets
Girls Town
Doom Generation (Gregg Araki)
Nowhere (Gregg Araki)
Ghost Rider
The Visitation
10 Items Or Less
The Office (series/BBC & NBC)
Starhunter 2300 (best Canadian sci fi series EVAR . Don’t fuck with Starhunter...just 2300)
Made In Sheffield
State Of Grace
Slaughter Night
Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways
Hustle-Seasons 1 & 2 (series)
Werewolf Hunter: Romasanta
Reno 911! Miami
The One Armed Swordsman
Baian The Assassin Vols.1-4
Strangers With Candy: The Movie
Blood Guts Bullets & Octane
Find Me Guilty
American Pastime
The Nativity Story
Blood & Chocolate
The Bow (Ki Duk Kim)
A Tale Of Two Sisters
Mixtape Inc.
The Breed
Blind Woman’s Curse (classic!)
Black, White & Red All Over
Bluehill Avenue
Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers
The Weight Of Water
The Tesseract
Shinjuku Triad Society (Takashi Miike)
Rainy Dog (Takashi Miike)
Ley Lines (Takashi Miike)
The Fountain
Fast Food Nation
Afro Samurai

Dart’s Picks:
Grind House- Uh...Duh! If You haven’t seen it yet, do it soon...Then buy the DVD when it drops.

Spiderman 3-Yeah this one, too. Ithink this movie did a lot of things most comic book movies completely fuck up on as far as story and being true to the source material goes. I’m copping this when it drops on DVD most definitely.

Hard Luck-Yeah, it’s a straight to video release. Sure, it stars Wesley Snipes , Cybill Shepherd and Mario Van Peebles (who also directed). Trust me, it’s definitely worth renting and watching. Stop sleeping on it.

Afro Samurai-Remember a few Dartflix ago I was bitching about the lack of Hip Hop themed animated projects and releases? Well, if consumers go out and buy this it may convince a studio that maybe they need to make one of these (Afro Samurai or The Boondocks) into a feature film one day. Every journey starts with one step towards the desired destination, people.

Dart’s WTF/Watch This Bullshit At Your Own Risk Award:
Epic Movie-Scary Movie has sucked since the Wayans sold the franchise (the Wayans have since made hits, but they sucked as well), Not Another Teen Movie sucked, Date Movie sucked worse than all the others and now we have Epic Movie...I’m gonna go out on a lmb here and say that more than’s gonna suck .

The Complete Matrix Trilogy (HD Version)-Why would I want this? So I can get progressively more dissapointed as the trilogy goes on? To remind myself at how confused and pissed off I was as the final credits rolled follwing Matrix: Revolutions when I realized that they STILL didn’t answer the questions I had from Matrix: Reloaded? Well, now you get to see it all in high definition!



Mike Dikk said...

Damn. I just noticed after months of looking at your site that you have comments enabled.

First off, thanks for the kind words regarding my blogsite a couple weeks back. Secondly, I love these movie posts you do. I'm also a huge movie fan, and I read your stuff when I can't think of anything to put on my Netflix.

Anyway, I'd have to disagree with your praise of Grindhouse. Planet Terror was pretty decent, but Death Proof was like the worst elements of every other Tarantino film magnefied by 100. I'm not one of those nerdy internet Tarantino bashers. I like most of his movies, but Death Proof was pretty terrible. It should have definitely been the first movie with Planet Terror following after. You get really aware of how long you've been sitting in a movie theater when you're watching 4 women talk exactly like how tarantino talks in real life for an hour right after being bombarded with a fast paced gorefest.

Aesthetically, I guess tarantino got the pacing down for the type of exploitation film he was trying to make (most of them really are that boring), but I just wish he didn't focus on dialogue so much. He is fucking awful at writing dialogue, but he seems to get off on it.

That's just my opinion though. Keep up the good work.

StoneMonkey45 said...

Old School hip hop and genre flicks, a man after my own hart. I had so many of those albums you have in the sidebar on vinyl back in the day and stupidly sold them years ago. I've picked some of them back up over the years, but if only I could go back in time and stop myself selling that record collection.

Anonymous said...

i have a problem with "wanted" coming out. i respect common doing his acting bit, but they're going to make angelina jolie the fox. assuming you read this, the fox is basically halle berry in denzel's role from training day. to have angelina do it is ehh to me.

besides that, i love reading your drops. they give me hope that people who are passionate about what they do have respect and admiration find them, as opposed to the alternative. keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I agree somewhat with Mike's comments. I finally saw Grindhouse yesterday at the 1.99 cinema and Planet Terror was funny but Death Proof was really boring. That whole first section of the film was super slow and boring. Seemed like Tarrantino was just 'doing tarrantino'. I have enjoyed most of his other films but this one was a let down. Planet Terror, again, was funny just from being over the top/cheese factor.

depletedsoul said...

I must catch death proof and planet terror.
I feel the need to comment on your adoration for spiderman 3 though?, did we watch the same movie?, cos i thought it was way below par.
Not rubbish, just not good atall.

Anonymous said...

Love how everybody who never understood the matrix movies seem to bash it. However the film has open interpretation. Just watch it a few more times then it makes more know the orcale was using neo.....for she made neo make the choices he did....that is why he knew he had no control...really good movie...if you dont understand it though.. give you some answers...peace

Anonymous said...

I like this blog spot. I gotta read it a few times..too much info. Its a good thing. Keep it up.

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