04/26/07 – From Grindhouse to Winehouse (& other odds & ends) – Part 1

The Return of the Double Feature

Two flicks for the price of one? Not a bad deal, if you ask me. Now add in the fact that one was made by a cat named Tarantino, as in Quentin, and another by Rodriguez, as in Robert, each responsible in past years for a slew of highly entertaining celluloid, and it’s a no brainer folks. In other words, forget your troubles and go see Grindhouse. Made with all the sort of trappings that defined the world of grindhouse cinema – poor quality film, missing reels, film burning before your eyes and trailers for the type of “B” fare associated with the genre – Grindhouse, which checks in at three-plus hours, is pure entertainment. The Rodriguez entry, “Planet Terror”, chock full of blood, blisters, puss, guts, and mayhem leads things off and is edge-of-the-seat zombie thrill trash replete with gore galore, hot chicks (even with her machine gun prosthetic, Rose McGowan is an eye catcher). Contrary to many of the reviews I read, Planet of Terror held me to the bitter end. On the flipside, read any interview with Tarantino about his favorite movies and the 1970s cult classic “Vanishing Point” always seems to find its way into the conversation. His half of the twin bill is called “Death Proof” and it’s actually two mini films in one, with the latter clearly drawing its inspiration from, what else, but Vanishing Point. Disney legend Kurt Russell stars in each as a bad-ass mf-er with a nasty Nova, as in Chevy. Overall the car chase scenes are pretty cool, if you dig that. I’m thinking of the two, Tarantino’s has the staying power. Oh yeah, one thing Grindhouse did have me wishing was we had an Alamo Drafthouse type theater in these parts. Begun in Austin, TX, they are about the coolest movie theater I’ve been too. Super creative programming, food, beer & wine makes the film-viewing experience even more fun. The ability to purchase a few beers during the Grindhouse marathon (vice some stinkin’ $5 coke – $5(!!!!) for a small coke!!!) would’ve been icing on the cake.

From Grindhouse to Winehouse

Winehouse is singer Amy Winehouse and I didn’t know a whole lot about her until reading a brief review of her CD in the NYTimes and then a mess of stuff about her at SXSW. Finally heard a song from that album, called Back to Black. The initial read was the same I had upon hearing James Hunter’s Rounder album of throwback soul and R&B from last year. A similarly styled vintage flavorn (and intriguing as heck), the album is equal parts ’60s Motown and New York (as opposed to Hunter’s skabillysoul). My wife beat me to the punch and bought the record. What with being on this Mary Weiss (of Shangri-Las) high after seeing her in Austin and devouring her brand new comeback release on Norton called Dangerous Game, Winehouse’s thanking of the Shangri-Las in the liner notes was a tip-off that this chick isn’t just the latest R&B flavor of the week being trotted out by the majors. From her thick, smokey voice to arrangements right out of, well, Shang-land, there’s something way deeper here with a timeless sort of staying power that grabs you by the nuts and sticks in your craw. If you’re any kind of soul fan, Winehouse’s album is a sigh of relief that someone out there still gets it. Now y’all go get it!