I like to keep these environs hype-free as a general rule, but I really like the posters that have come over the transom for “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof,” the segments directed by Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, respectively, for the April release of Grindhouse. (Click each image for a larger version.)
I’m not a Rodriguez fan — didn’t even care much for Sin City outside of the segments that leaned heavily on Mickey Rourke’s terrific performance — but he and Tarantino continue to make technical strides that relate very specifically to the quality of the image. According to IMDb, they’re shooting with the new Panavision Genesis digital camera that was used for Click, Superman Returns, and Apocalypto. That explains the creaminess of the skin tones and the flatness of the shadows in the new teaser. (Watch it in high-definition if you can – it’s kind of amazing.) Then again, IMDb obviously has the intended aspect ratio wrong, so who knows?
If you’re keeping score, Rodriguez — who is also the cinematographer on Grindhouse — had previously used Sony digital cameras for movies including Sin City, while Tarantino has, until this project, shot only on film, albeit employing a digital intermediate (meaning the filmed images are “scanned” for manipulation as digital images before being output back to film) on the Kill Bill movies.
What really sells the footage as a throwback to 70s exploitation-style filmmaking, though, is the layer of grain and film distress they’ve add to the digital image. Even the blown-out highlights — an unfortunate hallmark of digital cinematography — make sense in this context, since you sometimes get similar artifacts when a film goes through multiple or substandard optical duplication processes.
Judging from the trailer, which is 2.35:1, it also looks like Tarantino knows exactly what he’s doing with the widescreen frame. (Rodriguez not quite so much.) Anyway, can’t wait.