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The Movie Diary

I have a collection of albums so large that should any apocalyptic event overwhelm our corner of the earth, I could easily utilize them for purposes of survival. In the event of a flood, I could build a makeshift levee; if a tornado hit, my house would be secured by the sheer weight; should a swarm of locusts arrive, I could cover the exterior of my home in a protective shield. My wife refers to my albums as dead weight; I prefer to think of them as a vinyl security blanket. This collection started like many others: I began buying 45s of the latest pop hits and then gradually worked my way up to LPs. (Im embarrassed to say that my first album purchase was the Grease soundtrack. However, I made up for this indiscretion by quickly obtaining Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Damn the Torpedoes and Queens The Game.) Before I realized what was happening, I had developed a full-blown record obsession. My collection began to take on grand proportions once CDs hit the market. Everyone I knew was abandoning the old technology and I was more than happy to adopt their unwanted disks. Soon I had an entire room filled with crates of vinyl records. I, too, eventually converted to CDs and now sport a large and varied digital music collection. But I never got rid of those albums, and every once in a while I dig out a few choice selections and rev up the old turntable. After pulling the album carefully from the sleeve, Ill give it a few puffs of air and then gently drop the needle onto the outer edge. Upon hearing those first few pops and hisses, Im immediately transported to my youth. Twenty-five years ago the goal was to have dynamic sound devoid of any exterior noise; now its all about recapturing the audible nostalgia of your youth. Oddly, going to see this weeks film is just like listening to one of those old albums. Its a modern double feature delivered in a visual style reminiscent of the early 70s. Directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez even went so far as to include a scratchy and worn celluloid look and faux movie previews, creating a sense that the viewer is sitting in a dingy theater 35 years earlier. Grindhouses name originates from the American term for theaters that played sleazy exploitation movies (horror, kung-fu, spaghetti westerns) in the 1970s. The films were cheaply made, had few recognizable actors, and easily offended. Tarantino and Rodriguez attempted to wrap two well-crafted pictures with the look and feel of these bygone movies. The first film, Planet Terror, directed by Robert Rodriguez, is a classic zombie picture with an abundance of blood, gore, and mutant cannibalism. Like all zombie pictures, this one revolves around survival. Ill admit, Im a closet zombie fan when its done well. Luckily, Rodriguez does a great job capturing the essence of the genre without losing a sense of story. Death Proof, a throwback chase movie directed by Quentin Tarantino, opens the second half of the double feature. This film is overflowing with Tarantinos unique style of exaggerated dialogue and revolving camera angles. This picture succeeds as well, with the added bonus of turning into a womens empowerment film in the process. I must admit, there was something special about these pictures and their unique packaging. Obviously the subject matter is not for everyone, but for those who can appreciate whats being attempted, the payoff is high. Give this double billing a shot if you have a longstanding love affair with the cinema and its various incarnations. You wont be disappointed. A wonderfully produced B+ for Grindhouse. Got a question or comment for Dom? Contact him at realtoreel@adelphia.net

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