The View From Here

Someone really needs to slap Quentin Tarantino

Michael Bonner

The opening weekend takings in America for Tarantino's new film, Grindhouse, were, frankly, a disaster of Krakatoa-eque proportions. It only took a measly $11 million – less than half the sum forecast by the film’s studio, the Weinstein Company.

Grindhouse is a double feature, the first movie – a zombie horror, Planet Terror – is directed by Sin City’s Robert Rodriquez, while Tarantino helms the slasher film, Death Proof. The idea is to replicate the low-budget movies of the Sixties and Seventies beloved of the directors. Cheap and sleazy action, horror, kung-fu, soft-porn, cannibal and blaxsploitation flicks with titles like Asylum Of Blood, Jailbait Babysitter and (a personal favourite, this) Cat In The Brain.

In comparison to Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2, which opened at $22 and $25 million respectively, Grindhouse’s disappointing performance has twisted US commentators, and the Weinstein Co, into knots over-analysing it’s failure.

Weinstein are blaming the film’s running time. It’s over three hours long, which drastically reduces the number of showings in cinemas. In an attempt to salvage something from the debacle, Weinstein are planning to cut the movie in half and re-release them as two separate movies. This seems the likely way we’ll get to see it in the UK, if it opens as scheduled on June 1.

Really, the fault lies with Tarantino – but the buck stops with producer Harvey Weinstein, whose often ruthless and brutal treatment of many a movie earned him the nickname Harvey Scissorhands. Weinstein has been known to terrorise directors in the past, but seems reluctant to take Tarantino to task for what is, after all, an act of extravagant self-indulgence, even by Tarantino's Olympic standards. Who in their right mind really gives a damn about an obscure movie genre like grindhouse – apart, that is, from Tarantino?

Tarantino has been Harvey’s golden goose since Reservoir Dogs broke the director in 1991. They have one of those “special relationships” you hear about a lot these days, predicated around the critical and commercial kudos QT has enjoyed, but seems to be increasingly mercurial.

It’s now pretty clear that Tarantino needs to be taken in hand. He’s made two brilliant movies in Dogs and Pulp Fiction, but Jackie Brown was tedious beyond repair. And let’s not even talk about Four Rooms. But his obsession with the geekier aspects of pop-culture, while initially charming and amusing, appears to be wearing thin.

So what do you think?

Are you looking forward to Grindhouse, or has Tarantino blown it?


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