2007_04_arts_grindhouse.jpgGrindhouse (directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino): Directors and friends Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez really love old movies, particularly the exploitation B movies of '70s with their silly fake violence and boobs galore. They've crafted a three hour, double feature homage to their favorite genre called Grindhouse, which starts with Rodriguez's chemical weapon zombies on Planet Terror, takes a brief intermission with some fake "prevue" shorts and ends with Tarantino's car chase/girl's revenge picture, Death Proof. The running time is longer than a usual Hollywood blockbuster but the steady stream of oozing fake blood, rapid fire witty details and laughs at movie clichés are never boring.

In Planet Terror, Freddy Rodriguez from Six Feet Under is Wray, a tow truck driver with mysterious ass-kicking skills. His ex is Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan, in her first of two roles in Grindhouse), a go-go dancer who looses a leg to a flesh eating zombie attack. Fortunately for Cherry, the Austin survivors of the zombie infestation and those of us who like to see tough girls save the day, Wray rigs up her stump with a semi-automatic friend and all hell breaks loose. This section also includes great cameos from a gravely Bruce Willis, buxom Stacy "Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas" Ferguson and of course, Tarantino.

Tarantino also pops up in a minor role in Death Proof, his big wet kiss for gear-head movies of the '70s like Vanishing Point. A professional car driver stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) terrorizes groups of girls with his muscle car because "it's the only way that degenerate can shoot his goo." Unfortunately for him, he picks on one group that includes New Zealander Zoë Bell, a professional stuntwoman herself, who's nearly as crazy reckless as Mike. Only Tarantino would think to cast a non-actor like Bell as herself (she was Uma's double in the Kill Bills), and she's incredibly funny and compelling. Don't miss seeing Grindhouse on the big screen, it's one you'll be quoting with your friends for ages.

Other movies vying for your viewing attention this weekend include Hilary Swank visited by Biblical plagues in The Reaping, Ice Cube's family comedy Are We Done Yet?, Richard Gere's real-life caper The Hoax and an entertaining skewering of the LA pilot season The TV Set.