Saturday, March 24, 2007

Up Close And Personal With Death Proof - Part Three

You may wish to read part one and part two before you go on. Im about to acquaint you intimately with the climax of Tarantino's Death Proof.

So, Stuntman Mike has been taking an unhealthy interest in Kim, Abernathy and Zoe - three girls who are hitting the road in a borrowed 'Vanishing Point Charger'. Let's pick up the thread as the car drives down a 'lone country road, cutting through the forest'.

Inside are the three girls. Kim behind the wheel, Zoe in the passenger seat, and Abernathy is ithe back.

Zoe begins preparing for "Ships Mast".

What, you might ask, is "Ships Mast". Well - I think it's slightly misnamed, it should be called Figurehead. I won't go into much detail but... well, if you know Cabin Boy, and you can remember the role played by Ricki Lake, you might be able to imagine how much danger Zoe is about to put herself in.

Zoe takes her belt off and asks Abernathy for hers. She then wraps both belts around the car door window on both sides. Then shimmies out of the passenger car door window up on to the Charger's roof.

Trust me, it gets much more insane.

Now, as Zoe plays her odd game, she's being watched by Stuntman Mike, through binoculars. He finds the girls' antics as utterly bizarre as I did:

This is as close to flabbergasted as Stuntman Mike ever gets and the cause of his flabbergastation is the two bad ass stuntchicks who apparently like to play as rough as he does.

He gives, chase of course, and before long -

coming up fast behind the girls' car.

the trio are oblivious.

ZOE is laughing in daredevil ecstasy. KIM is caught up in the adrenaline rush. ABERNATHY can't believe what the f*ck she's seeing but after being frightened, she's slowly starting to let go and enjoy the moment. Her shocked mouth slowly turns into a smile.

so does his.

The grill of his car coming up fast. Something makes ABERNATHY LOOK BEHIND. She sees Stuntman Mike's badass muscle car coming at her at 120 miles an hour.

ABERNATHY (to herself)
Oh my god.

Kim's eyes go up to the REARVIEW MIRROR. Car speeding to ram from behind.

What the f-

Stuntman Mike's grill CRASHES into the girls' ass...


Stuntman Mike's car hits them with such force that Abernathy is...

Actually, I'm not going to tell you. But this is just the beginning of what reads like one of the greatest car chases ever scripted. By now, of course, it's one of the greatest car chases ever filmed.

We were up to page 119 of 127. The chase ends on page 126. It's tense, terse and wildly imaginative.

And then... page 127. A sudden, hard, abrupt end. One of the classic, nihilistic conclusions? People will argue about this wrap-up, I'm sure. Alongside Snake Plissken destroying the tape at the end of Escape from New York and David Aames' rooftop revelations in Vanilla Sky, Kurt Russell has now netted a place in another very memorable, utterly distinctive final scene.

Could Death Proof make Zoe Bell a star? I doubt it. I expect this is her big moment in the spotlight - but that's something Tarantino has always been good at: offering defining roles to undervalued players. People are going to love her, I know that much - I just don't know how transferable this affection will prove.

Ultimately, Death Proof is the most induglent of Tarantino's scripts. His themes are his personal obsessions - from the grungy aesthetic of the grindhouse, to the kind of perverse plot twists that leave your head spinning; from his love for analogue filmmaking to his foot fetish - it's all in there. Auterists are going to pass out in joy, bless 'em.

The rest of us will probably be dizzy, but just able to manage a standing ovation.

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