Kill Bill is my favorite movie, so I was at an 11:30pm show of GRINDHOUSE -- a double feature of Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof will added fake trailers. This review will be spoiler free, but I wanted to give it its own post so that spoilers can be in the comments thread, if people want it.
The first thing that strikes me about Grindhouse is that it seems like a bit of a joke on Rodriguez, like when two friends agree to shave their heads and then, the next day at school, the other guy doesn't do it: I know they are both friends and I am sure they worked together closely, but it feels a bit like they got together and said "Let's make a pair of Grindhouse flicks": Rodriguez exemplifies the genre, as his hyperbolic mode is only a parody in the sense that making an old fashioned movie like this, complete with missing reels and crackling sound, NOW pretty much HAS to be a parody; Tarantino, rather than exemplifying the genre as Rodriguez does, delivers ... something else. I cannot say what that something else is without ruining his film, but there is a reason the trailers are filled with images from Rodriguez's film, a reason a girl with a machine gun leg is the icon of the film.
A few warnings: I am not sure that the whole Grindhouse package sits well together. The fake trailers are fun, especially the one for Machete, but some of the others -- what did I expect from Eli Roth -- made that subtle shift from funny-violence to wrong-violence. I might be the only person that felt this way, but I enjoyed all the violence of Rodriguez's movie but wanted to get out of the theater during Roth's trailer. Not so much my thing. Also just about every great image in Rodriguez's entry you have seen on the trailer. Then after an hour and a half into Grindhouse you get Tarantino's film -- it is a GREAT film, but part of the way the film works is to spend time on seriously languid pacing and dialogue at more than one point before getting to the pair of action sets. On the one hand, of course, it is Tarantino. But as part of the Grindhouse package, that promises exploitation at every turn, my audience got VERY restless after sitting in the theater for so long. But it is worth the small to moderate frustration -- if unlike me you are not Tarantino obsessive and love every scene: Tarantino's film is exquisite.