It's impossible to talk about Grindhouse and Death Proof in particular without mentioning two outstanding performances.
First is Kurt Russell. Man, I love this guy. What an amazing career he has and he usually gets unnoticed. But not here. Not by me. A child star that dodged the traditional drug abuse, he has weathered the Captain Ron's well and chalked up quite a roster of films. And he's peaking well with Death Proof.
In Death Proof, Russell plays Stunt Man Mike. And he plays it brilliantly. What threw me is how he plays his character at first: that of a harmless, borderline annoying washed up stunt man. But then the darkness creeps in and suddenly all the innocence that he once portrayed makes him that much more scary. Because you think that at one time, he was an average guy. A guy you could meet at a bar and throw a couple back while watching a game or sharing a story or two. And it's this innocence that makes his character work so well with the women he stalks as he lures them in with his "aw shucks" attitude. And he can turn it on and off whenever needed. In short, Russell provides a soul to an otherwise purely evil character. But Russell delivering an outstanding performance is not news to me.
So let's talk about the Newbie. And that is Sydney Poitier. As I watched her strut down the hall of her apartment in the opening of Death Proof, then plop herself down on her couch and take a big ole hit from the bong that rested on her coffee table, I thought "who the hell is this woman?" So beautiful, so cool. And then as the movie went on and she delivered her lines with a slow purr and chewed up every scene she was in, I thought again "who the hell is this woman?" And when I saw her in person at the premiere, standing tall and proud and beautiful in her long white dress, I thought that I needed to find out who the hell this woman was. She is Sydney Poitier and it was sheer pleasure watching her on the big screen.
Pay attention viewers because my guess is this is not the last time we will see her. She is destined for incredible things.