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FW Weekly 'Full Tilt Boogie' Is A Movie About Making A Movie

By Joe Leydon

AUGUST 3, 1998:  If you had a chance to take a behind-the-scenes look at any movie made during the last five years, From Dusk Till Dawn probably wouldn't be your first choice. Yes, the 1996 movie was directed by Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) and written by Quentin Tarantino. Such notables as George Clooney, Harvey Keitel and Tarantino himself appeared in major roles. But with all due respect to everyone involved with this fang-in-cheek action-adventure about vampires at a Mexican cantina, From Dusk Till Dawn wasn't exactly the sort of cinematic triumph that evokes a burning urge to witness the creative process at work.

Even so, Sarah Kelly's Full Tilt Boogie is not without interest. Kelly, who previously worked as a production assistant on Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, did not have entirely free access, or even full cooperation, as she made this movie about the making of a movie. (Keitel granted only a five-minute interview during his final day on location.) And a few scenes obviously were staged for Kelly's cameras.

At its occasional best, however, Full Tilt Boogie vividly and accurately conveys the "hurry up and wait" drudgery of moviemaking. Cast and crew heartily party when the day's work is done. Even during the actual shooting, there's a sense of play along with the practice of craft. By and large, however, you're left with the impression that working on a film can be as exhausting as working on an assembly line.

Here and there, Kelly catches flashes of revealing detail. Clooney seems amiable but oddly disengaged, as though he doesn't want anyone - least of all a documentarian - to get too close. (In a brief, unguardedly teary moment, his personal assistant indicates that he may not be such a nice guy after all.) In sharp contrast, Tarantino comes across as a kind of court jester, especially during his rant about the lack of beer at a location party. Throughout it all, Rodriguez looks extremely worried. He also looks like he wouldn't want to be anyplace else.

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