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New DVDs: Death Proof


New releases are thin on the ground for this pre-holiday Tuesday, so I’ve taken the opportunity to return to “Death Proof,” one of Quentin Tarantino’s most accomplished movies, which is being re-issued on Blu-ray today. And what better imagery than highly sexualized car crashes to summon up the proper holiday spirit? My review is here.

128 comments to New DVDs: Death Proof

  • Michael Worrall

    Message received, loud and clear.

  • Alex Hicks

    Michael Worrel, I’ve continue, going way back to a discussion at this site about “paradigms (Huston, etc.) of over a year ago, to find your strain toward serious, explicit and consistent argumentation helpful. But you set standards in this regard that I’d say even you have a hard time sustaining, as in your belief that I was critical QT for being “popular” (or your assumption that I’d dislike Dickens for his popularity or applauded him thinking he’d not been so). Not only are terminologies (and tastes) not very consistent among cinephiles or anywhere in the humqnities except perhaps among grmmarians and within particular philosophical schools; further conveniently available time and non-overbearing expanses of space aren’t easy to come by. (And shifting positions to restate what one really meant is a prevalent feature of most exhanges of a little persistence and complexity.) I don’t think that charges of dishonest and the like can advance your instructive, if sometimes demanding, contribution here. Heck, on the so called high-low problem (e.g., Luis Menand, “Finding It at the Moviesm,” March 23, 1995) I don’t think there’s any very compelling overall statement), but no need to cut the conversation short if it’s a sort you like.

    Mike Grost, Sorry if my association of popular success with popularity is off or confusing, but i don’t think it had as lot to do with my distnctionn between “low” and “popular” or my opinion that “Death Proof” isn’t especially “popular” as opposed to elitest.

    “Hamlet” parallels and kid detectives to the contrary, I wouldn’t say the high-low problem got in the way of this afternoon’s enjoyment and admiration of Ulmer’s “Strange Illusion.”

  • Michael Worrall

    Alex wrote: “as in your belief that I was critical QT for being “popular” (or your assumption that I’d dislike Dickens for his popularity or applauded him thinking he’d not been so)’

    I was not claiming or assuming any of this. I wanted someone to explain to me when popular art becomes high art, and you gave some reasons. In general, a red flag goes up and I get very suspicious when a person only considers the elements prescribed to high art as only to be elements worthy of serious consideration.

    In regard to shifting positions, I do not think it was just a matter of that,
    but Dave has asked me to drop it and I will. But your point is taken.



  • Alex Hicks

    Mike Worrall,
    There’s an sociuological study empirical study of a variant of your question when does “popular art becomes high art?”: i.e., of “when are movies regarded as an art form, or at least source, of works of “art?” It’s Shyon Baumann “Hollywood Highbrow: From Entertainment to Art.”

    Interesting point getting “suspicious when a person only considers the elements prescribed to high art as only to be elements worthy of serious consideration.” I guess I do strongly tend to use High art criteria for ecaluation “art,” and I’ll have to think about it. (Perhaps if I analyze my ocassional arguments for preferrinbg the Rolling Stones over The Beattles and Paul Simon…)

  • Michael Worrall

    BTW Alex, thank you for the compliments on my posts. I know I can get into the area of excess that would make Ken Russell blush

  • dm494

    Dave, I can’t cool down about this. Michael despises me and accuses me of being a liar. I can’t help feeling that he’s not alone in his sentiments, and I’m sure other people will start suspecting I’m dishonest now that he’s made these charges. I don’t see how I can acquit myself, but if anyone is persuaded that I’m a double-dealing scumbag by the selection of my remarks which Michael has gathered, interpollating his own serious misinterpretations, I’d ask him or her to take another look at the Lena Smith thread, where the comments are taken from. Whatever dishonesty I’m guilty of is probably in the Lubitsch discussion, where I think I hemmed and hawed and backpedalled too much.

    For the sake of my dignity, as well as everyone else’s sanity, this will be the last comment I post here. It’s a terrific site and tossing off my opinions almost daily has been very enjoyable, practically an addiction. I’ll miss it.


    Dan McNerney

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    In every discussion groups that I have taken part in there is always a moment when two or more people get so worked up against each other that at least one person decides to leave in disgust, feeling very bad. Maybe it’s an unavoidable result of the nature of both human nature and the nature of internet relationships. It was one reason, not the main reason probably but one major reason, that a wonderful film group like a_film_by sort of died out. Maybe all groups are destined to such an end, I don’t know, but I wish that people like Michael and Dan reconsidered.I’m pretty sure it’s all a silly misunderstanding. And even if it’s not, one can always forget and move on.

  • Alex Hicks

    Dan McNerney,

    At the risk of untimely contrariness, I bet NO ONE thinks you’re a liar or dishonest– indeed the terms seem so overwrought to me that I feel a little queasy even using them to mock them.

  • Scott

    I don’t really post enough around here to know the ins and outs of people’s assorted ideological conflicts with one another (so I hope I’m not speaking out of school). But Dan has always struck me as a smart, insightful poster, and I don’t imagine any of us would like to see him go. I hope he reconsiders.

    Mr. Kehr’s site, without question, facilitates some of the best film discussion I’ve come across on the Internets. You guys (and gals) have seen EVERYTHING, and everyone seems to be some kind of professional film writer; it can be a bit heady and intimidating. But I’ve noticed that passion can occasionally translate (often unknowingly, I’ll wager) into belligerence and antagonism. This is supposed to be fun and diverting, people! We can’t always agree, but let’s not take it all so personally.

    Anyway, that’s my unsolicited two cents. Please excuse me.

  • Phil G

    I know it’s late to the game and perhaps apropos of not much, but didn’t Duchamp pretty much solve this “low art vs high art” concept almost a hundred years ago?

    I believe by Tarantino’s own admission that part of what he wants to do is take what most people would think of as explotation, b movie genres and elevate it to something akin to a “high art” movie. Whether he succeeds or not is another matter. He always feels to me like Cusack in HIGH FIDELITY creating the greatest filmic mix tape for a bunch of his friends. The films themselves are fun to watch, but I never feel he has much to say aside from look at how vast my knowledge of arcane cinema is. It’s almost as if you can check off the movies he is quoting: there’s a Leone, mixed with the Shaw brothers, mixed with THEY CALL HER LEFT EYE, mixed with blah, blah, blah. To what end? I guess you can make the same claim with Leone. ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST is essentially long check list of every western he ever loved. However, those influences are filtered through a fairly unique storytelling voice. I don’t believe, and I know I’m in the minority, that Tarantino has that unique voice. He’s a entertaining storyteller, granted, but he hasn’t risen above his influences. And there really isn’t anything that original. He is simply a music DJ mixing together a little bit of this and a little bit of that creating something that seems knew but in reality is not. I’ve never bought the idea, as stated somewhere above, that Tarantino has his own voice. That dialouge that everyone creams their pants over is really Elmore Leonard 101. It’s ironic that his best movie, by far, was a adaptation of one of his books. Also the movie that Tarantino likes the least. The “playing with the form” bit too is not only not new to cinema, but really by his own interviews taken from novels, like, um, oh, yeah, Elmore Leonard.

    And, for what it’s worth, if anyone even bothering to read this, for McNerney, no need to leave the playground butt hurt just because some overzealous douche is taking what I believe is a friendly exchange of ideas a bit too seriously. Although you might consider making your arguments consistant for those who are crazy enough to check past posts just to get evidence against you.


  • Dan,
    I always enjoy reading your posts, and learn a lot from them.

  • Ben

    “Why can’t we all just get along?”

    Dudes, this is a film blog; it’s supposed to be enjoyable. We are all film lovers. We might walk different paths but we are still fellow travelers. You guys have watched more movies than I can count pixels and can embarrass the hell out of this amateur here and yet you guys can’t co-exist on a film blog without fighting? Come on!

    Beer anyone?


  • jean-pierre coursodon

    I apologize for my stating yesterday that the group a_film_by “sort of died out”. It is actually quite alive and fairly well.

  • alex hicks

    There’s a good academic joke that some might find amusing in the blogging context (where it might apply about as well –or poorly)

    Q:”Why are faculty meetings so heated?”
    A: “Because nothing is at stake.”

  • Tony Williams

    I’ve deliberately kept out of this debate because I hate the films of Quentin Tarantino and regard him as responsible for the low status of Hollywood cinema today, his production role on the two HOSTEL films that I’ve seen and became revolted by viewing them. That is my own personal perspective and I admit that I “may” be biased here.

    However, I’ve read this debate with interest but want to support what J.P. has said on this issue. It will be a major shame if this site ends up the way that the yahoo groups “A Film By..” and “Film as Politics” have become. They both began well and declined into unnecessary flame wars that tarnished their initial appeal, although ” Film by..” is showing welcome signs of recovery as is “Film and Politics.”

    When I first accessed this site, I found very familiar names who once posted on those sites and whose postings I really missed. Ironically, the line “Why can’t we all get along?” was used by Lionel Stander in PROFESSOR BEWARE to stop a fight. However, once he was slugged on the head by somebody, the fight resumed. Jonathan R. has spoken and written about the flame war tendency in internet discussions. It is a temptation we could all fall into. So I wish to make this appeal for its cessation so that Dave’s site can continue to be as educational, informative, and illuminating that it has been from its very beginning.

  • Is the sense of the group that I should be more aggressive about weeding out obnoxious posters? I’ve taken a largely hands off attitude here — only banning two people in the history of the blog — but I sure don’t want to see it fall into the kind of relentless sniping that spoiled “A Film By.” It’s very hard to post anything at this point without inviting “gotcha” comments and petty quibbles.

  • Kent Jones

    Time for those kittens again, Dave.

    Maybe it’s a good idea to refrain from using language like “overzealous douche,” something you would never dream of saying to someone’s face but that can come easily as you type away in the privacy of your own home. I say this with the understanding that Phil G. used the term in the spirit of unity and civility.

    Aren’t blogs like this always a constant negotiation? There’s a careful balance to be struck between informality and decorum, rigor and looseness, conversing and speechifying, musing and arguing. I guess I agree with Alex’s posts on the matter.

    I also agree with Jean-Pierre and his characterization of Carney’s inane Satchmo/Flaubert comparison. I believe that high/low distinctions are useless too, but all that such a statement can accomplish is to draw attention to the suicidal non-conformism of the speaker. It reminds me of a certain poet I used to know who was fond of letting everyone know that he didn’t like Shakespeare.

  • Michael Dempsey

    A fine line, invisible to some on many blogs of all kinds, separates trenchant, irritating, yet indispensible advocacy of unpopular views that clash with more conventional but not necessarily shallow ideas from self-righteous self-glorification of one’s proudly isolated die-hard stance of Defender Of Art Against The Middlebrow Philistines.

    Weeding out obnoxious osters might be a tricky call, since obnoxious and trenchant often strongly resemble one another.

    But there is such a thing as useless-except-to-the-poster obnoxiousness. And blog commentary pages aren’t democracies. A trigger finger is sometimes required — but hopefully not an itchy one.

  • Phil G

    I feel like, well, a douche for feeling compelled to write this, but I do sincerely apologize for using the term last night. While it is a word that I use a bit too frequently in my day to day dealings, even face to face, a claim which should embarrass me, in the context of the discussion it was a very poor word choice. If I would have taken a second to re-read my post, I think I would have had second thoughts, but that bit of hindsight didn’t come until this morning. Of course, that was too late. I can certainly understand the furor that some of these discussions provoke. Within my own small group of movie buds, the discussion can often get so heated that calling someone a douche is one of more civilized things that gets called out. I guess I should be embarrassed about that as well.

    Thankfully, it appears as if this was a small blip in what is otherwise one of the best places to discuss film. I am a constant reader who will now enjoy the site again, silently.

    Your welcome.

  • I think you should ban all commentary about Brian De Palma. Bring him up and everything starts going to hell in a handbasket. Love him or hate him, he gets the conversational juices/bile flowing, and it just cascades from there.

    Going way back to the origins story of this thread, my first exposure to rep cinema was the Varsity in Evanston, IL, which alas did not survive my freshman year at Northwestern. (It became a Cineplex Odeon, then a music store, and I think is now a shoe outlet.) And I did make it to the notorious Woods in Chicago, where “The Black Room” (1982) was playing–where is that on DVD? Plus the State Lake, etc., which showed triple bills of “grindie”-type fair (grindhouse + indie=New World, Empire, other studios that had trouble lasting into the 90s).

  • Tom O'Connor

    Talking about Chicago loop triple bills I think among the crumbiest were at the McVickers which at times seemed to favor Canadian-made horror pictures sometimes featuring SCTV cast members. Going back even further I remember seeing the Ten Commandments there when it first came out. Quite a change in status from the mid-50s to the late-70s, early-80s.

    When they finally tore down the McVickers some of the last things standing were the stage and the screen–no walls, no seats but there were the focal points of the entire building left up for an extra day or so visible to any Madison Street pedestrian at no charge. Amazing.

  • Kent Jones

    Phil G, say three hail marys and do an act of contrition.

    Seriously, why be silent or embarassed? I just think that throwing around language like that never does much good on a blog.

    Is it true that Tarantino likes JACKIE BROWN the least among his movies? That seems crazy. I have mixed feelings about his movies, but I have very few reservations about that one. I’ve never read RUM PUNCH but doesn’t he transform the material a little? Come to think of it, changing the lead character from a white woman to an African-American woman, in L.A. instead of Florida, is more than a little. Which reminds me that I just finshed writing about THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, a movie that’s just as good now as it was 35 years ago, and was surprised to realize that Steven Keats’ gun salesman is named…Jackie Brown.

    Robert, as much as I dislike talking about Brian De Palma, as wearisome as it is to even remember a movie like BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES or REDACTED, I’m not sure that banning any mention of his films would accomplish much. But maybe you were kidding.

  • jbryant

    Just remembered that probably the greatest thing about my first year or so at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale was the film programming in the student center. That’s where I got my first exposure, on big screen or small, to such titles as Ikiru, Seven Samurai, Children of Paradise and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, and my first theatrical exposure to On the Waterfront, Rosemary’s Baby, too many others to mention. Soon thereafter, I guess the funding dried up, and screenings were reduced to weekly double bills of more recent, average student-friendly fare such as The Blues Brothers. Then pretty much nothing. I don’t know if things have improved since then.

  • Yes, I was kidding. (I got 7,000 words out of De Palma for Cineaste last year, so I can’t dismiss him.)

  • Tony Williams

    To Jbryant, No, they have not. If anything they have got worse with films such as SAW 5 and the latest tacky product already shown at the monopolistic Kerasotes Theatre. Before I arrived in 1984, I noticed that the student center had screened the aptly titled THE LAST HURRAH in 1983. Some 5 years later, a group of students attempted to show more challenging films such as THE AMERICAN FRIEND but since the program lost money, the venture was unanimously condemned by the Student Council who wanted more box-office films shown. If something like THE SHINING appears, it runs before Halloween and is 100% promoted as a grimacing “Jack the Lad” hootenanny occasion.

    Things have become much worse since you left (at least outside the classrooms).

  • jbryant

    Really sorry to hear that, Tony. I guess it doesn’t help that not even film students can be counted on to take an interest in films made outside the contemporary studio system. Hell, that was true even back in late 80s/early 90s when I was there. I remember one student (a rather talented one at that) who’d never heard of Sam Peckinpah or Katharine Hepburn.

    At least home video options have improved in the intervening years to prevent complete cultural starvation among those noble souls suffering in the “backwaters.” Soldier on!

  • Tony Williams

    Fortunately, there are exceptions but I’ve heard of a prevailing attitude in a certain location that Hitchcock, Hawks etc and anything to do with classical cinema of any nationality is now irrelevant. However, I (and others) are trying to fill the DVD shelves of the Morris Library with distinctive works from the past and present and hoping that the cost of the Murnau/Borzage DVD set is not too prohibitive. However, I did success with Ford at Fox last year so will keep trying.

  • When I was at QT3 in Austin 99, Tarantino showed JUNIOR BONNER and gave a humble and heartfelt talk about JACKIE BROWN and what it meant to him; how the reaction to it was comparable to the reaction to JUNIOR BONNER (same initials!)and he pointed out he was not comparing himself to Peckinpah. I think JB is probably very dear to QT’s heart. It’s his most emotional film. And I love it.