Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Overwhelming Charm of Zoe Bell

The first thing that popped into my head when I watched Quentin Taratino's Death Proof for the first time was that I wished more than anything I had gone to go see it on the big screen. It's like Lawrence of Arabia in that sense (probably the first and last time those two films will ever be compared). I know many people knocked it for its long stretches of arguably pointless dialogue, but that didn't really bother me. For one thing it's Tarantino, for God's sake, you get what you signed up for, and also I am an individual who doesn't need explosions going off every other second to stay interested (adjusts top hat and snootily takes a pinch of snuff).

But though the car chase was as mind-blowingly thrilling and white-knuckle inducing as it promised to be, my interest was riveted by the girl on the hood of the car, the bouncy, cheery, intensely badass Kiwi stuntwoman Zoe Bell.

Yes, folks, I found myself deep in the grip of a massive girl crush. This was exacerbated when I discovered that she was not only Uma Thurman's stunt double in Kill Bill, and was therefore actually as awesome as she appeared onscreen but had been the subject of a 2004 documentary entitled Double Dare, which followed Bell's climb into Hollywood parallel to veteran stuntwoman Jeannie Epper's gradual decline. Not only is this an absolutely fascinating documentary (about a subject that quite honestly doesn't get as much attention as it should) but Bell's charisma fairly leaps off the screen and drop-kicks you in the face. In the cold open of the documentary she stands around, is lit on fire and then sent spinning into a bunch of guys wielding swords. That was pretty much enough to hook me in for the next hour and a half.

In the film's best scene, we are actually able to watch Bell get the call that changes her life--she is told that she will double Uma Thurman in Kill Bill. This comes relatively late in the documentary, so we're already familiar with her struggles to break into the industry. Her reaction is so disarmingly honest in its elation, it's nearly impossible not to be laughing and dancing around with her.

And there you have it. An attractive, funny, cheery girl with an awesome accent who also happens to be compelled to repeatedly throw herself off of extremely high places, get lit on fire and attack a bunch of dudes with swords. Who doesn't love that? And take my advice--rent Double Dare and give it a watch. You won't be sorry you did.