Full Tilt Boogie
1998, R, 97 min. Directed by Sarah Kelly. Starring George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Juliette Lewis, Harvey Keitel, Michael Parks, Victoria Lucai.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., July 31, 1998
Sarah Kelly's absorbing documentary on the making of Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn breaks down the fourth wall between audience and performers and then proceeds to devour it whole with infectious glee and sublime panache. Chronicling the production of Rodriguez's drive-in vampire/gangster epic from conception to martini shot, Full Tilt Boogie is as much a sociology lesson on the politics of a major film shoot as it is a dry, sardonic comedy of errors and frayed nerves. Above all, though, it's manna from film geek heaven as a roster of semi-indie luminaries (in spirit if not in budget) such as Tarantino, Keitel, and the great Michael Parks (remember Then Came Bronson?) parade before Kelly's camera and offer their insights on the filmmaking process. Beginning with an outrightly hilarious bit of staged comedy from Dusk stars Tarantino and then-ER heartthrob Clooney as they wend their way through the backstage corridors on their way to the set, Full Tilt Boogie cuts from conversations with Rodriguez to Clooney's barrage of wisecracks and practical jokes, and from on-set crew interviews to the mounting threat of a I.A.T.S.E. strike against the film's non-union status. Politics threaten to bring a halt to the production: One memorable (if overly long) sequence has director Kelly and producer Rana Joy Glickman flying off to Miami to seek out their union nemesis in a scene reminiscent of Michael Moore's Roger & Me hijinks. Meanwhile, back at the Barstow, California shoot, the infamous Titty Twister biker bar catches fire in the wake of a particularly fiery pyrotechnic shot and nearly burns to the ground. And, of course, what would a desert shoot be without a dust storm? The travails of the filmmaking process -- both ordinary and extraordinary -- are captured by Kelly with witty aplomb. Where else could you see Tarantino point out that he “could sleep with any woman on this set” and get away with it? Well, okay, probably on any QT set, but you know what I mean. It's cinema vérité in the midst of one of the most chaotic shoots imaginable; the looks of relief on the faces of both cast and crew are palpable at film's end. Not that it's all work, mind you. Much of Full Tilt Boogie is given over to the more mundane aspects of filmmaking, such as on-set romances, the inner-workings of craft services, and the Great Grip Debate: drunken slobs or hardworking, indispensable technicians? Like Rodriguez's finished film, Full Tilt Boogie is a wild ride, full of the requisite peaks and valleys and precious few plateaus. And beer. Lots of beer.