To promote/salute Grindhouse (Weinstein Co., 4.6) in the Los Angeles area, Quentin Tarantino is programming the New Beverly Cinema with so-sleazy-they’re-hip-in-retrospect exploitation films. A double-feature every two or three days, playing now through May 1st — and just about every one a diposable wank except for Roger Vadim‘s Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971), which shows 3.25 through 3.27. (Rock Hudson as a high-school teacher and lecherous poon-hound, plus one or two nude Angie Dickinson scenes….I’m there.)
When and if these films ever get released as a Tarantino-approved DVD box set, I wonder if I’ll care enough to even rent one or two.
Has Tarantino ever sat down and written a definitive manifesto that explains what it is that he finds so wonderful about these films? The thing he worships about them, I think, is their low-rent vitality and lack of pretension, and (I guess) the occasional standout performances. They have all that, yes (if you want to be generous), but they’re not about anything the least bit internal or profound.
Tarantino is a lazy wallower — an attitude huckster, an iconographer, a street- corner smart-ass. Inherent in this is a disinclination to believe in (much less seek out) art or transcendence — in any sort of practice or exercise or canvas-splattering that tries to imagine a world beyond the mundane.
There’s nothing wrong with wallowing in and of itself — I like to go there from time to time, and I’ll probably enjoy Grindhouse when it comes out — but celebrating ’70s grindhouse films as brash and nervy and better than people realized at the time….I don’t know. I think it’s basically horseshit.