By Owen Gleiberman
August 07, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

Of all the films I’d want to see a ”making of” documentary about, From Dusk Till Dawn, the 1996 kidnap thriller-turned-vampire spag- hetti Western, wouldn’t be high on the list. A rudely watchable piece of gonzo trash, it was, in essence, a vanity project for Quentin Tarantino, who pulled an old script out of his (bottom) drawer, recruited his buddy Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) to direct, and got his home-base studio, Miramax, to pony up $18 million — all so he could further his acting career by casting himself as the nerd psycho Richie Gecko.

The surprise of Sarah Kelly’s Full Tilt Boogie (Miramax) is that it turns out to be more fun than the movie it’s about. No one in the cast or crew appears to harbor any illusions that they’re toiling on the next Pulp Fiction — the mood is closer to that of a Roger Corman set with classier talent — yet here, as in Francois Truffaut’s love poem to cinema, Day for Night, it is, paradoxically, the very nakedness of the project’s mediocrity that allows the carny-barker romance of moviemaking to flower. George Clooney, caught between takes on his first major feature, is wilder and more low-down than he’s ever been on screen — a hip stud all too aware that he’s on the fast track to the stratosphere. Tarantino, the charmingly razor-witted egomaniac, glories in the fact that he’s already there. Rodriguez seems to direct scenes mostly by strumming his guitar, while Harvey Keitel delivers a discombobulated Zen-zombie monologue about the secret of acting.

The people we see in Full Tilt Boogie resemble a medieval troupe of traveling players crossed with a funky ’70s commune. They’re caught up in the seductions, as well as the payoffs, of make-believe. Cheeky and rambling, a kind of rowdier E! hype-of-the-week special, Full Tilt Boogie reveals the happiest of all reasons why so many movies are so second-rate: On a film set, simply staging cliches can be an act of childish joy. B

— OG

[BOX]

Full Tilt Boogie STARRING George Clooney Quentin Tarantino RATED R 110 MINUTES

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