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Death Proof cheered by critics at Cannes

Kurt Russell in Death Proof, part of Grindhouse

Story by Jack Foley

QUENTIN Tarantino has been cheered by journalists at Cannes for his new film Death Proof, which is among the hopefuls for the coveted Palme d’Or.

The director has already won the festival’s top prize in 1994 for Pulp Fiction and would love to complete a double at the festival he hailed as cinema’s “Mount Olympus”.

Death Proof, starring Kurt Russell as a murderous driver, was originally part of the Grindhouse experience co-directed by Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

But due to its poor US box office performance, both Planet Terror and Death Proof are to be released separately in other countries – and both have been extended to include more footage.

Tarantino’s movie, which was hailed as “amazing” by some critics, follows two groups of young women (including Sydney Poitier and Rosario Dawson) as they attract the unwanted attention of Russell’s Stuntman Mike, who then uses his “death proof” car as a deadly weapon against them.

Commenting on the decision to split the two films, producer Harvey Weinstein told a Cannes press conference: What you see when you see the new Planet Terror and what you see in Death Proof is that you see Robert Rodriquez making a Robert Rodriquez movie and Tarantino doing pure essence Tarantino.

“In order to save time and crunch these films together, some of the essence of the films was removed.”

Tarantino added: “If you have to be a diehard Grindhouse fan to enjoy it, then the movie is actually pretty limited… If you don’t know about those kinds of movies – I’m not saying my movie is better than those movies – but I am trying to transcend it.

“I do have a different agenda. So if you didn’t grow up with those films, then hopefully everything is brand new for you.”

But the film’s star, Russell, said he was “disappointed” for any audience that won’t get to enjoy the whole Grindhouse experience for themselves, adding: “There will be no movies made in the next five years like Planet Terror and Death Proof. These two movies are going to go off with a life of their own, but my prediction is that 20 years from now, you’ll want the Grindhouse experience. You won’t want them separately.

“For the full effect, the other experience is something bizarre that I’ve never experienced before and I like the short version.”

Weinstein came back, though, by saying that he felt European audiences were going to get a lot more from both films when they see them as intended.

“You’re going to get Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino doing their thing, and it will dwarf Grindhouse,” he predicted.

The longer version of Death Proof includes longer conversational scenes between the actresses and a lapdance sequence that had cheekily been removed from the Grindhouse experience as one of several in-jokes.

Commenting on the inclusion of the lapdance sequence, Tarantino said: “I put that scene back in and I knew I always would. The majority of the stuff that I put back in was stuff that I took out of Grindhouse.

“Me and Robert made three movies. We made Death Proof, Planet Terror and then we made Grindhouse. Death Proof and Planet Terror were always meant to stand alone.

“But when we put them together as Grindhouse, it had to work as one evening. So we didn’t cut our movies to the bone, we cut them past the bone.”

Check out photo from Death Proof

Read our interview with Freddy Rodriguez on Planet Terror