Friday, April 13, 2007

Double Dare (2004, Amanda Micheli)

"A double-barreled, action-packed documentary about the struggles of two stuntwomen in male-dominated Tinseltown to stay working, stay thin, and stay sane."

This documentary follows two stuntwomen who are struggling in Hollywood. The first, Jeannie Epper, is a well established stuntwomen who is struggling to get work because of her age. The other, Zoe Bell, is a newcomer who is out of work and trying hard to get her name known. The documentary starts telling their stories separately but when the two stuntwomen meet the documentary really takes off. This is when it becomes another little hidden gem.

What makes this one so great to watch is the two women that we get to know. It's that simple. At first both stories that are being told are both interesting and at times tough to watch. Zoe Bell in New Zealand in her last days of doing Stunts for Xena and Jeannie Epper shuffling around Hollywood trying to get work. It's when Zoe Bell decides to leave New Zealand to come to Hollywood that thing get really interesting. When she comes to Hollywood the documentary crew decides to have Zoe and Jeannie meet and the documentary then transformers into something else.

Jeannie immediately takes Zoe under her wing and we get to see their friendship develop to the point where Jeannie treats Zoe just like her daughter. Everything from this point on feels really intimate and we really begin to see the troubles the two stuntwomen face in Hollywood. What is also fun is that we never feel like we are watching a documentary but instead a series of home videos. By this I mean we don't get a feeling of the two women acting phony or hiding their personalities. By the end of this documentary you truly get a feeling of having gone behind of the scenes of how Hollywood works. The final 20 minutes of the documentary are also great because of the paths we see both women take (especially Zoe) It truly feels like an ending that was preplanned. I mean this in a good way.

I wished I could have seen this documentary before seeing Grindhouse, Zoe's first film as an actress. After seeing the documentary I hope that the poor box office of Grindhouse doesn't affect her career too much. You really just feel like cheering for her after watching Double Dare. The only complaint I had with the documentary is that we don't get to see much of Jeannie Eppers work and very little is said about her past as a stuntwoman. Some more interviews from some filmmakers would have been great to see as well. It's really odd to see Spielberg or Tarantino pop out for just a minute and then never come out again.

- ***

One a Sidenote.....

I was exploring the special features on the DVD and found the (kind of) full Tarantino interview. This has to go down as one of my favorite special features ever. I may have some issues with Tarantino the director but I love Tarantino the person. When he is given the chance to rant by himself I find him hilarious. This interview is a perfect example of this. In this 20 minute or so interview we get to see Tarantino go on a huge rant about why Xena is amazing and we also get to see Tarantino begin to reenact movies and trailers all by himself. Whats even more fun is that he seems to be talking to himself since we only hear the person asking the question once and then hearing Tarantino go on and on and on about the question and almost never answering the question. The reason I put (kind of) is because believe it or not even the director chooses to cut him off by having edits when Tarantino starts ranting. I would seriously watch a whole movie of just Tarantino talking to himself and reenacting things by himself.

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