Grindhouse (16 years later revisit)

The day after I saw THANKSGIVING I decided to sit down and watch the whole GRINDHOUSE double feature for the first time in many years. I saw it twice during its short theatrical run in 2007, saw the longer separate version of DEATH PROOF on DVD (can’t remember if I ever did the same for PLANET TERROR), at some point I bought a Canadian import blu-ray just to have the full double feature when it wasn’t available here yet. Turns out it was still unopened.

DEATH PROOF definitely stands up as a separate movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed having that full experience again. I know online movie people talk too much about runtimes, sort of a dumb topic usually, but I want to point out that this full double feature is only 15 minutes longer than THE BATMAN, 10 minutes longer than OPPENHEIMER, and 15 minutes shorter than KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON. But it offers two very different movies, plus short subjects in the form of fake trailers and bumpers, that play off each other kind of like an anthology. For those times when you’re in more of a splattering blood and smashing cars mood than a creation of the atom bomb one it’s a joyful and enriching way to spend an afternoon or evening.

The experience starts off strong with the MACHETE trailer. This ode to the awesomeness of Danny Trejo is still a masterpiece, as the mixed bag feature version and its disappointing sequel fade in my memory. The one I’d forgotten most was Rob Zombie’s WEREWOLF WOMEN OF THE S.S., and its appearance by Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu is even more interesting now. At the time it seemed amazing that this big time star, whose most recent movie was GHOST RIDER, would be willing to do that. Now it seems prescient because it was about four years later that he seemed to make himself available to any role from quickie DTV thrillers to LEFT BEHIND reboots.

The main reason for me to re-watch GRINDHOUSE was to return to Robert Rodriguez’s PLANET TERROR. I haven’t changed too much from my feeling in my first review that “It’s not a real movie, it’s a nice homage to a real movie,” but I definitely enjoyed it more this time than it sounds like I did back then. In retrospect I don’t even think Rodriguez went overboard with the fake scratches and grime. It’s a really appealing look, that grainy night sky, especially after years of brightly lit and blandly over-polished digital cinematography. It looks like a hybrid of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD boiled together in a big pot with a couple weird nightmares from my childhood. Great work by cinematographer Robert Rodriguez. Hats off also to score composer Robert Rodriguez for not just getting Carpenter-esque with the synths, but also the guitar riffs. You don’t hear that as much.

The opening sets up the tone well, with a clandestine meeting on a military base. Dr. John “Abby” Abbington (Naveen Andrews, THE BRAVE ONE) is a villainous mad scientist who expresses disappointment in the failure of underlings by cutting off their balls, which I take to be a one-upping of Durant’s collection of fingers in DARKMAN. Abby’s henchmen are used to doing this for him and have special tools for it. He carries the balls around in a big jar, which he drops and breaks during a scuffle and then he falls down and his mouth touches one of the balls. Even better, before he runs off he scrambles to grab some of the balls and shove them in his pockets. So this is a pretty good villain.

He’s there to meet Lieutenant Muldoon (Bruce Willis in the year of LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD), about the bioweapon DC2, which Muldoon was sprayed with while killing bin Laden (four years early), so now he has to keep breathing it or he’ll turn into a zombie, which they call “sickos.” I love the shot of him threatening Abby while the skin on his face (digitally) bubbles from the infection. The negotiations go poorly, the gas canisters are hit by bullets, kicking off a sicko outbreak in this small town.

One of the first things to immediately make me think “Okay, this is gonna be fun” is that pretty much every time a bullet hits a body in this scene it causes an an enormous splash of blood. It doesn’t look digital to me but it’s so over the top how could it be squibs? Do they have a huge hose attached that gets digitally erased? I don’t know, but this approach continues throughout the movie and it never fails to make me smile. Honestly one of the great achievements in cinematic bloodletting.

For once it’s kind of cool that Bruce’s part is minimal, because he makes sense as the slumming special guest star (the Nicolas Cage as Fu Manchu, if you will) and his part is just to come in and fire off a few volleys of his action star presence. The main character is Cherry Darling (Rose McGowan, MONKEYBONE), who quits her job as a go-go dancer and stops at the barbecue joint owned by J.T. (Jeff Fahey, PSYCHO III, DARKMAN III) where she encounters her ex-boyfriend Wray (Freddy Rodriguez, the guy who got his nose ring pulled out in PAYBACK). Though they have bad blood she asks him for a ride, they get in an accident, one of her legs is ripped off and then zombies take it. (The sheriff will later refer to it as “a missing leg that is now missing.”)

In the tradition of such films as HALLOWEEN II and Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN II, there’s a chunk of horror at the hospital. Wray brings Cherry there as people are showing up with nasty infections. I like Joe (Nicky Katt, AMERICAN YAKUZA), the patient who comes in way too casual about a zombie bite that looks about ten times grosser than you’d expect. The mix of makeup and digital FX are in the same no-such-thing-as-too-much spirit as the jar of balls and the bullet hits – disgustingly melting faces, arms, dicks. It’s a normal zombie movie injected with some sort of Basil Woolverton serum.

Joe’s doctor is Dr. William Block (Josh Brolin in the same year he really re-blew up with NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, a gig he got with the help of Rodriguez and Tarantino filming an unsolicited audition video), with his anesthesiologist/wife Dr. Dakota Block (Marley Shelton, WARRIORS OF VIRTUE), who we happen to know is planning to leave him tonight. He proves her decision is justified when he finds out by spying on her texts and injects her with her own syringes. She escapes the abusive husband as well as the zombies and, in sort of a one-upping of Beatrix Kiddo’s escape from the hospital post-coma, manages to open and drive a car with two floppy, sleeping arms. The part where she slides one into the door handle then loses her balance is one of those cinematic moments that goes all the way into the red on the oh, fuck! meter.

The other most important character introduced in the hospital is Sheriff Hague (Michael Biehn, DRAGON SQUAD). Rodriguez knows to treat him as an icon, giving him a dramatic entrance through swinging doors. You get a moment to go, “Oh shit, it’s Michael Biehn!” and then “Oh, and Tom Savini!”

And then there’s a cut to EL MARIACHI himself, Carlos Gallardo, giving us an extra second to clock him if we’re so inclined. Sheriff Hague knows Wray and says he “stuck his neck out” for him, but doesn’t trust him. So they have a sort of ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 partnership. They all need to flee the zombies at the hospital, so Wray jams a table leg into Cherry’s stump. The FX for that are really good and so is McGowan’s physical performance. Of course I remembered that she upgrades to a machine gun leg and uses her go-go moves in battle, but I forgot about her touches of clumsiness as she gets used to it – wobbling a little and almost slipping after some of the cool trailer moments. Good stuff.

Rodriguez prankishly skips over a bunch of the narrative shoe leather by having a “missing reel” where we miss the climax of a sex scene and cut to when the barbecue joint is on fire, the sheriff is on the floor dying and now respects Wray because he confessed to his secret past as a legendary special ops super duper badass known as El Wray.

It’s an example of the movie not taking its plot seriously, but it’s also a great joke, and it prevents the movie from getting too bogged down in things we really didn’t need much detail about.

Cherry’s gun-leg heroics are the most memorable part of the last act. Another highlight is Savini getting torn apart in a clear tribute to (but not straight up mimicry of) Rhodes’ death in DAY OF THE DEAD (one of Savini’s masterpieces).

I don’t think it’s debilitating, but the weakness of the finale and the movie overall is that everybody’s talking about El Wray as this mythical figure, but on screen he’s kinda bland. Sorry Freddy Rodriguez, it’s nothing personal. But they talk about him as this legend, it’s alot to live up to, and he only does in the little part where he does a flip up a wall and kills some guys. (Robert) Rodriguez is so good at milking the larger-than-life charisma and screen presence of his favorite guys like Trejo or Antonio Banderas, so it’s not out of the question that El Wray could’ve been the Troublemaker Studios equivalent to Snake Plissken. But I’m afraid (Freddy) Rodriguez doesn’t have that kind of juice.

On the other hand, the female lead ridiculously outshining and outlasting the male one is thematically appropriate for this double feature. And I like the epilogue where Cherry is leading the other survivors, living as a tribe of nomads on sunny beaches in Mexico. She seems as cool as they swore El Wray was. Maybe it’s for the best.

Quentin Tarantino’s DEATH PROOF is a completely different interpretation of the “Grindhouse Aesthetic,” and feels almost nothing like PLANET TERROR. It’s bright instead of dark, no digital effects beyond wire removals, nothing sci-fi or monstery about it. I do think it’s technically a horror movie, and it definitely borrows some time honored slasher tropes, but it’s more interested in paying tribute to a very different exploitation staple: sunny car movies with women in cut offs and halter tops. It also glorifies the talents and wild lives of stunt people, something he’d continue in his later movie about late ‘60s Hollywood. He has an ending more broad and goofy than any of his other movies, but another banging soundtrack of deep cuts, and his usual focus on long, indulgent dialogue scenes written in his distinct voice. The talkiness, honestly, is in keeping with drive-in tradition, except that he and his cast throw more passion into it than most.

This is also Tarantino’s love letter to his time in Austin. He gets a shot of an Alamo Drafthouse, then makes it about friends hanging out drinking at Güero’s Taco Bar on a rainy night. It feels like such a loose hangout movie, but it has an elegant structure to it. First half: we see Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell coming off a run of SKY HIGH, DREAMER and POSEIDON) spying on some women. We meet and hang out with the women as they make plans for a weekend cabin getaway. We see Mike hovering like a shark, though he passes for a quirky, even charming old weirdo at the bar. Then he strikes with his car, killing all of them in one crash (with apparent final girl Butterfly [Vanessa Ferlito, SHADOWBOXER] instead turning out to be the Marion Crane).

Ending-of-PSYCHO style interlude: Earl McGraw (Michael Parks, DEATH WISH V) and son (James Parks, reprising his character from FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2: TEXAS BLOOD MONEY) at the hospital, discussing Earl’s belief that Mike is a pervert who gets off on fatal car crashes, basically a slasher who uses a car instead of a knife. But there’s no official crime, so he can’t do anything about it other than “make god damn sure he don’t do it in Texas.”

So the second half starts over again in Tennessee, with Stuntman Mike stalking a new set of women. He may or may not know they’re in the same industry as him, with some time off from a shoot. They don’t know him.

It’s deceptive – subtly complex for a hangout movie. For example, there’s the scene where Zoë Bell (Zoë Bell, WHIP IT), Abernathy (Rosario Dawson, HE GOT GAME), Kim (Tracie Thoms, LOOPER) and Lee (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, MAKE IT HAPPEN) have a conversation over breakfast, a 7-minute continuous shot with the camera floating around the table. Only after a couple viewings did I look away from their faces to see Mike in the background at the bar, his back to them, reading a newspaper, then leaving. Only on this viewing did I put it together that he must hear them talk about the classified ad for the Charger, find it in his paper, and head that way to keep spying on them.

What is very new for Tarantino and likely to never be repeated in his filmography is that he builds to a whole bunch of very cool, all-natural car stunts, with the wonderful magic trick that he put KILL BILL stuntwoman and previous non-actress Bell in a lead role as herself, charmed us by letting us hang out with her and her friends for a while, then made it unmistakable that it’s really her hanging from the hood during the chase. (By the way, it’s kinda cool that these characters seek out the white 1970 Dodge Charger because of their love of VANISHING POINT, and then it gets bashed up by Stuntman Mike’s car, which has become iconic in its own right, though mostly for its hood logo.)

(Also by the way, I don’t know if I ever realized that Daryl Hannah’s double from KILL BILL, Monica Staggs, is in the Austin section as their friend Lanna Frank. We don’t have any context of who she is, but everyone knows her, calls her by her full name, is waiting for her to show up like she’s the coolest one of the group, maybe even compared to the locally famous DJ whose face hovers above them on a billboard.)

Watching this as a double feature again I really appreciated that the two movies, you could say, pair well together. They balance each other out, leaning in totally different directions. The dark, digitally enhanced, totally ridiculous one, then the sunny, spare, practical, more serious (but still fun) one. And seeing them together again I really appreciated the cross-pollinating between the two, and the world-building for this alternate reality where there’s a Rodriguez International Pictures and an old Dimension Films logo. FROM DUSK TILL DAWN/KILL BILL character Earl McGraw is in both movies, as is the new character of his daughter Dakota. Tarantino’s Red Apple cigarettes appear in PLANET TERROR, where there’s also a character who mentions Jungle Julia’s radio show, before we meet her as a main character in DEATH PROOF (played by Sydney Poitier, TRUE CRIME). Between the two movies there’s an ad for a restaurant called Acuña Boys, which we see a cup for in DEATH PROOF (apparently it was also in JACKIE BROWN). Also, McGowan, Tarantino, and Rodriguez’ then-nieces “the Crazy Babysitter Twins” appear in both movies as different characters, while Jeff Fahey and Michael Biehn appear in both PLANET TERROR and the MACHETE trailer.

For people currently fixated on shaming Tarantino for his foot fetish, please note that I made a joke about it in my DEATH PROOF DVD review sixteen years ago. In case you’re wondering how fucking old the topic is. Those people will be too distracted by the camera’s worship of Poitier’s feet (director of photography: Quentin Tarantino) to notice how much he centers butts in this one. Definite respect shown, and I’m not one to complain. But I have to admit that some of these aspects play differently after #MeToo and the downfall of Harvey Weinstein: the ogling of female bodies in both halves of the double bill (especially McGowan’s opening go-go dance that ends in tears), the DEATH PROOF characters’ gossip about directors sleeping with crew members, the various rapey bad guys (including Tarantino’s “Rapist #1” and Eli Roth’s “Dov,” one of two guys scheming to get their dates drunker than they want to). Though in this cut both films use a “missing reel” gimmick to cut out the sexiest part, they definitely turn the ‘horny’ and ‘sleazy’ dials up higher than most of their work, in deference to the traditions of exploitation cinema. I do generally think it’s all in good fun, but now I keep remembering Harvey Weinstein’s name on the credits, and how much these directors thrived with his support, and that brings up questions about how much they might’ve known and what they tried to do about it. I’m not making a judgment about that, I’m just saying if you think about it during the movie it it can change the mood.

Rodriguez later claimed he’d specifically cast McGowan as an act of defiance against Weinstein for raping her and trying to sabotage her career. She told Rodriguez she would’ve loved to be in SIN CITY but didn’t audition because Weinstein had blacklisted her since she sued him and got a settlement. So according to Rodriguez he decided okay, I’ll make you the main character in PLANET TERROR, he won’t be able to tell me no, he’ll be forced to pay you and help revive your career. That all seems plausible to me, but Rodriguez also claims Weinstein “buried” GRINDHOUSE in retaliation, which I don’t understand. It was not one of those movies that comes out and you never heard about it. There was very aggressive marketing and excitement for people like me, it just didn’t translate to as many ticket sales as they needed outside of those circles. It happens.

I generally really like Rodriguez and don’t think of him as full of shit, but this part of his open letter is hard to swallow: “We all suffered greatly on the film, and the journey ended up costing us all more than we ever bargained for. For me personally, it cost me my marriage of 16 years, my family, a large dose of sanity, and for years I have grappled with the sobering idea that maybe I made a grave error in standing up at all, when no one was even asking me to. “

Who does he think he is? El Wray? I don’t know, man. But this whole chapter adds a piece of information, that Rodriguez was aware of Weinstein being a rapist and (allegedly) tried to punish him for it. For whatever it’s worth, Rodriguez’s only subsequent movies released by the Weinstein Company (SPY KIDS: ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD and SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR) were sequels, so they probly had to be contractually. But Tarantino did three more movies with the Weinsteins, not splitting with them until the allegations became public. It’s weird that he must’ve known one of the guys funding his movies was the type of dude his heroines were poetically stomping to death.

For me that sobering thought doesn’t erase that DEATH PROOF is, on top of everything else, a cathartic fantasy about women defeating male aggression. Mike thinks he’s so cool with his badass car, his pompadour, his rolled up t-shirt sleeves, his silver jacket, his stalking and preying on women for fun. But as soon as he crosses Zoë Bell and friends he’s deflated like a balloon. After Kim shoots him in the shoulder there’s a comical scene of him alone in his car blubbering.

Then they come after him and right away it’s “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean anything! I was just playing around!” I like how Zoë hops into the window holding a pipe like it’s a lance – a white knight going to slay the dragon. And they take turns using his head as a punching bag before Abernathy puts a boot heel through his skull. The end. Cut to “Chick Habit” by April March (translated from Serge Gainsbourg’s “Laisse tomber lesfilles”):

“You’re gonna need a heap of glue / When they all catch up with you / And they cut you up in two.”

I wonder if they got in trouble for that? Would DEATH PROOF 2 have to be a women-in-prison movie? I’m gonna say no. They lived happily ever after. It’s a cartoon, a fantasy, a dream. Unfortunately real life hasn’t been as simple. Stomping heads in is not a workable solution, and it took another decade for Weinstein to suffer any consequences for his long career of assaults. There are plenty of other Harvey Weinsteins out there doing their thing until they get called out, and they don’t even have to apologize if they want to switch to a right wing/anti-“cancel-culture” audience (Louis C.K., Russell Brand, etc.) DEATH PROOF is not a reality, but to be fair none of us went in expecting the retro-exploitation double feature to change the world.

It did change movies a little, though, didn’t it? Or at least DVD releases. They certainly started using the word “grindhouse” a whole lot more freely, and adding distress to every cover design. It’s hard to know, but I really think PLANET TERROR’s halfway-between-a-parody-and-a-real-movie tone, with a premise seemingly adapted from vintage poster art, is a likely influence on movies like MANBORG, WEREWOLF COP, KUNG FURY, and TURBO KID. Arguably even BLACK DYNAMITE. Some of those tongue-in-cheek throwback type movies seem like possible offshoots or affiliates of Cherry Darling’s tribe.

Of course there’s also the MACHETE movie and MACHETE KILLS, and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (the feature version of a fake trailer made as a promotional contest for GRINDHOUSE, then added to the feature in Canada). And following in their footsteps, CLOWN and WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY are fake trailers later made into real movies. But maybe those are more influenced by HOUSE OF 1,000 CORPSES.

So GRINDHOUSE was a cultural moment even as it was failing at the box office. I was more right than I knew when I wrote in my Ain’t It Cool News review of the DEATH PROOF DVD release that “It’s a good time at the movies AND it lost money for some assholes.” So maybe that was for the better. But it could’ve been really cool if it did well enough to become a regular thing like the V/H/S movies or something like that – every 2 or 3 years there’s another double feature, maybe two new directors, maybe more Tarantino or Rodriguez, or maybe they just do trailers. And maybe sometimes the trailers become features in subsequent installments. Before it was seen as a financial failure Eli Roth was talking about him and Edgar Wright doing a THANKSGIVING/DON’T double feature as GRINDHOUSE 2, while Tarantino said he wanted to make an old school kung fu movie in Mandarin but in some places it would be shortened and dubbed.

Actually that sounds amazing! I’d be excited for both versions! That doesn’t have to count as movie #10. Do it under a pseudonym.

Anyway, I still like GRINDHOUSE. Good movie(s).

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2023 at 11:51 am and is filed under Reviews, Action, Horror. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

50 Responses to “Grindhouse (16 years later revisit)”

  1. The Burning is another movie that is really weird to revisit after what we now know about Harvey Weinstein. It’s wild that he is co-credited with the story and his brother wrote the script.

  2. Too bad. G….house” was one of my favourite running gags on this websight.

    Last month a friend of mine was looking for movies to watch on Halloween and someone suggested PLANET TERROR. She looked it up on IMDb and for some reason was laughing for minutes when she read that Tarantino was credited as “Rapist #1”.

    Of course the double feature didn’t happen outside of the US, so I only saw the full length version of PLANET TERROR and nothing of the rest. And when it was released, it was a time when special edition with different packaging were not just cool, but also affordable. Don’t know if it was released outside of Germany that way, but I own it in a really cool looking tin can (which I guess is supposed to be a gasoline canister or something like that?) of the size of two Mediabooks, that also included a sealed bag of fake blood and the recipe of the BBQ sauce that Jeff Fahey’s character is famous for. Never tried it, but I think I really should.

  3. Grindhouse will always be one of my all-time favorite viewing experiences—not just because it’s a great movie *and* a big crowd-pleaser, but also because I saw it in a super scuzzy theater (off campus from USC). A theater so bad that the last reel of Death Proof was played out of focus, and it was a real question whether that was the theater’s fault or Tarantino doing a bit. Just magical.

  4. To this day Death Proof is usually trotted out as Tarantino’s misstep, or perhaps his lesser work. But I might put it above Once Upon a Time and even Inglorious Basterds (both movies I like, but think they’re a collection of great moments that don’t cohere as much as I would like). I actually think it’s become a bit underrated. However, I don’t think I’ve watched it since it came out on DVD, so I reserve the right to change my mind.

    But even if it is a lesser work, who cares? That’s what bothers me about Tarantino and his ten film thing. I don’t think he’s made an out and out bad film, but bad films from great directors are interesting. So are minor films. And there are auteurs like Spielberg, Scorsese, and Verhoeven who are making movies with more verve and panache than directors a third of their age.

  5. I remain ‘the hater’. I don’t why the fuck this movie(s) was made, and who it’s audience was supposed to be. Let’s start with the obvious, a “grindhouse” movie for 80 million dollars. Oh sorry, it’s really two movies. Only 40 million per, my bad.

    Let’s all congratulate Tarantino, he successfully made a ‘stretch a one reel concept into feature length’ exploitation flick like his heroes, and only needed 40 million dollars to do it. When he had his protagonists spend 10 minutes discussing Vanishing Point, you could see the utter depression on the face of every man, woman, and child in the audience, wishing that was the movie currently in front of them.

    And fuck Rodriguez and his attempts at face saving. Harvey Weinstein funded your 80 million dollar joke, promoted the shit out of it, and you posed with him on the red carpet with a big, dumb cheese on your face and your arm around him at the fucking premiere. Such an act of subversion. Wonder why McGowan called you out too?

  6. Almost forgot: after it tanked, Weinstein re-released it as two separate movies

    Talk about a burial…

  7. Holy crap the Furiosa trailer is here. Fury Road has been the only serious challenger to Aliens as my favorite movie of all time, so I have to try and temper my expectations… but this looks pretty epic.

  8. I’m sorry, but the whole “it’s supposed to suck because the old stuff it’s homaging sucked!” is a bit too insufferably film school for me. It comes up with the new Godzilla movies too and I have to ask, do you guys really think there’s a production meeting where the director and the screenwriter and the producers go “yeah, we COULD make these characters cool, but the fans would never accept it! Make them lame instead and have them talk about stupid shit for a really long time!”

    When Lucas and Spielberg made Indiana Jones, did they say to themselves “hey, those old movie serials were kinda dumb, looking back. Let’s make sure we keep our stunts from being too good and make the music a little more crap”?

    But at least Rodriguez is having fun with his half of the double bill and not the insular kind of fun where you have to be drift-compatible with him to enjoy it. Enough effort put in to be a real movie, but having too much fun to come near being respectable. It’s a shame he couldn’t bring the same momentum to the Machetes. But the movie’s on Blu-Ray, Weinstein’s in jail–you take what you can get.

  9. Holy shit Rodriguez blamed the movie for his divorce and not, you know, him cheating on his wife??? (After all his “family is everything” movies too.)

    I like the Guy’s movies and people make mistakes, marriage is hard, but that’s some harder to swallow than the “burying the release” retcon (patently false, tons of advertising and thousands of screens).

  10. And yet it’s still a more forgivable mistake from Rodriguez than MACHETE KILLS. (Just kidding. But it’s close.)

    Maybe he meant with “Burying the release” the international one? After all we didn’t even get the GRINDHOUSE package and I feel like both PLANET TERROR and DEATH PROOF were released with little fanfare over here.

  11. Kaplan – Who said it’s supposed to suck or that the stuff it’s homaging sucked?

    Fred – I know, that was crazy for him to write that, followed by the “after all this I wonder if it was even right for me to stand up like such a bold and courageous hero”

  12. Well besides all the hate this review seemed to illicit it made me watch the double feature again. It’s enjoyable but I very much prefer the full cut of Death Proof.

  13. I have loved every second of GRINDHOUSE since before I even saw it. I would drown a puppy in a bucket of vinegar to feel even a tenth as excited for a new movie as I was for GRINDHOUSE, and for that excitement to pay off with as much unapologetic entertainment and filmmaking brio as it did that opening night. The negativity this film is getting here is inexplicable and saddening to me, and a reminder of why I talk about movies a lot less than I used to.

  14. Is it though? I mean, Vern seems to love it more than last time (because he enjoyed the first half more), we have one guy who downright hated it, one who seems more lukewarm but at least appreciative and the rest of the negativity is more about us being baffled by RobRod’s comments.

  15. re: Furiosa trailer.

    Not to prejudge based on a trailer, but there is a lot of crappy looking car cgi (and background replacement/extensions) in the trailer, that does nothing but remind me of the Fast and Furious movies.

  16. Wouldn’t be the first time that a trailer is released with unfinished FX (Remember the one for ALADDIN?). I do hope though that it’s really just that though and not WB cutting the FX budget for tax reasons or whatever.

  17. I’m doing my best to give George the benefit of the doubt. It’s just the prequelness of it all that makes me skeptical. I thought we as a culture had decided in the last decade that prequels suck and nobody likes them. This isn’t true in every single instance, but I think it’s rare to have a prequel that doesn’t feel like a bunch of wheel-spinning. At a basic level, I think what most of us want out of a story is to find out what happens next. So to backtrack and fill in some backstory that did not seem overly in need of explanation is not that interesting to me, especially when we know it has to end on a bummer. I’m sure the ride will be worth it but I’m having a hard time getting excited about the destination.

  18. Loved Grindhouse so much that afterwards, when I heard the flimsy anecdote that QT went to RR and suggested, “Let’s just fuckin’ bring it,” I felt it in my fucking bones.

    I do think this is Rodriguez doing something simple though and imagining the Grindhouse movie he wanted to make (hence the splicing together of many genres and eras somewhat arbitrarily. Theres artfulness is QT’s approach, though, the idea of recreating one of those car movies of that era (where, let’s face is, a whole lot of nothing happened for long periods at a tine in those films) but then finishing with a car chase that blows them all out of the water. I remember packed house, opening night, as Zoe Bell was scrambling on that hood, you could hear every butthole in that auditorium tighten.

  19. “At a basic level, I think what most of us want out of a story is to find out what happens next. So to backtrack and fill in some backstory that did not seem overly in need of explanation is not that interesting to me, especially when we know it has to end on a bummer.” This 100% is why I don’t like prequals. Usually. Especially when they’re telling the story of how a villain became bad. Barf. But, I do not have the same worries for FURIOSA. I have faith about that one. Even if I kind of side eye Anya Taylor-Joy as 1 – a younger Charlize and 2 – possibly portraying the character right. I think it’s possible she can pull off the second, but not the first. But, like Vern has said on Twitter, these stories are mythical enough that stuff like that doesn’t really matter.

  20. I understand the trepidation about CGI, but I think the practical effects were just one ingredient of Fury Road’s success. A lot of it was the staging, the editing, and so forth. I’d rather have Miller doing all that with CGI than J.J. Abrams going “look at all these practical effects!” in a Star Wars.

    And apparently the prequel thing is from Miller being very enthused about the backstory they came up with for Fury Road Furiosa, not some studio exec trying to milk an IP, so I’ll trust that there’s going to be more going on there than, say, Cruella.

  21. I actually found the internet’s total credulity about FURY ROAD being 100,000% CGI-free to be kind of adorable. They really wanted to believe, you guys. They clicked their heels three times and covered themselves in pixie dust and when they opened their eyes Tinkerbell was alive and George Miller had created an actual fire tornado and filmed a bunch of real exploding cars floating around in it. Not a single computer was utilized in the production of this film. The department heads couldn’t even email each other because George smashed all their laptops with a hammer and assigned them all carrier pigeons.

    “Just let me have me this,” the internet said. “I need this.”

  22. It’s just the prequelness of it all that makes me skeptical.

    I was under the assumption this was going to be a “Mad Max” prequel, meaning a completely separate adventure with the same hero (y’know, like the other three Mad Max sequels). So I was a little shocked to see it’s a PREQUEL prequel.

    And I don’t know about you, but I kind of like not knowing if the skeleton arm on the side of her rig was a representation of her actual arm, or just something bad-ass painted on the side for no real reason. Implication fires the audience’s imagination, not explanation. To quote Billy Wilder “once you get them thinking, you got them”

    That, and the footage currently looks like an anime playing on a screen with actors standing in front of it.

    But, George Miller’s worst movies are still worth seeing, so…

  23. Put me down as pro-Grindhouse. Great piece, Vern, appreciating the movie for what it is but placing it in proper context. Extra points for the Basil Woolverton reference.

    For those in North America looking to revisit the roadshow double feature version, please note the most recent/current copies of the Blu-ray are not actually the double feature version, but the individual/separate extended releases, in the incorrect packaging.

  24. Everybody forgets when the Fury Road trailer came out, there were nerd outcries to the heavens about the CG sandstorm. It’s so weird how movie fans freak out about any CG but then have no problem with far worse bluescreen in even the biggest budget Hollywood movies of the 80s. And now they’re 50 and things have changed and they’re super upset.

    I was super duper hyped for this movie…a huge budget horror EVENT by two of the biggest directors out there, doing some crazy retro sleaze. I think some misunderstood it…like, why is it big budget, why not make REAL grindhouse movies? But the whole fun was to see movies with all the resources those never had, and actually delivered for once. As a fan of those movies sometimes you gotta wait a loooonnng time for the most minor Good Shit. And the trailers were amazing (minus Zombie’s lame-o), the whole vibe was great. I do wish Tarantino had picked something grimier, like imagine if he made something more like Eaten Alive, a crazy gross weird thriller instead of trying to bore the fuck out of us because that’s what old shitty movies did. I was on board for some of Death Proof although you could tell he was just trying to be too clever giving us minutes of his buddies figuring out how to date rape some women, how cute and fun. But when they all died and it became apparent we were going to have to do ANOTHER fuckign setup I kind of wanted to walk. If it were up to me I’d keep the Russell footage from the director’s cut…do a Psycho and follow him stalking the new group, cut the boring shit with the new batch of women…we don’t need to see them debate if they’re going to borrow that car because we fucking know they will so get to it, asshole. But he makes a great comeback with the chase.

    That movie may have been the end of the glory days of the sleazy 90s, where we got a wonderful diet of stuff like Pulp Fiction, U-Turn, Natural Born Killers, From Dusk Til Dawn, True Romance, Desperado, it extended intot he 2000s with stuff like Sin City, Kill Bill, Smokin’ Aces, 300, Django Unchained. Obviously Tarantino and Rodriguez were in the middle of a lot of this stuff, but drive in fans were eating GOOD. Then after this died we still got violent stuff but more in the horror world like Hills Have Eyes or Hostel. A lot more in the torture porn vein which just isn’t that interesting to me. Talk about nostalgia, I’m nostalgic for having non-horror big budget sleazebag movies in theaters.

  25. Oh as for Furiosa…I’m not so concerned about it being a prequel although I did like how each Mad Max movie felt a lot different from each other one. And while we know where things are going, if done well wont’matter. I remember being deflated watching Better Call Saul and seeing Gus show up and realizing they were going to show all the boring stuff like buildinmg a drug lab…how exciting. But then it was! Because the process ended up being interesting, as well as what it did to the characters.

    And lets face it, wanting to know what happens next in a movie like it’s going to be a surprise isn’t something that happens often. Most movies aren’t like a Tarantino where 2/3 of the way through Django he just kills off two main characters in the blind of an eye with like 45 minutes left. Usually it’s more like watching Rambo and wondering “when EXACTLY is he going to set traps on people one by one?” But we pretty much know the destination, it;s the style of getting there that really matters.

  26. On topic, put me in the “loved it” camp for Grindhouse. It was one of the most fun experiences I have had in theaters. I was bummed out when it got chopped up for the DVD releases, but I also appreciated the extended versions. Thankfully they eventually put out a blu-ray with the whole shebang, so now I have both options. As to the question of “why/who was this made for,” it was made specifically for me, which was obviously a terrible financial decision but one that I fully support. As a 90s kid who loved both the directors, crazy genre shit, and Rose McGowan I was incredibly hyped for this. Rodriguez and especially Tarantino had earned a lot of good will and clout, and I appreciate that they burned up a good amount of it creating this cinematic lark. The dividing line will be different for everyone, but for me Grindhouse stays on the right side of stupid fun. Planet Terror is like a meal of nothing but dessert. Sure it would be terrible if every meal/movie was empty sugar and carbs but its fun to over-indulge occasionally. Death Proof might be Tarantino at his most self-indulgent, but the cast keeps me interested during the slow sections. The initial crash is one of the most gnarly things I have seen in mainstream movie (also for anyone who plays Mario Kart 8, the title screen always makes me think of DP as it looks like the squid kid is about to Stuntman Mike their tire through Mario’s head). The climax and Zoe Bell rule.

    I think Rodriguez went sharply downhill from here. He took the “all dessert” approach of Planet Terror too far, and the ingredients got worse with his lazy green screens and shitty FX. Alita: Battle Angel felt like the first time he had tried to make an actual movie in over a decade. And I know I am in the minority here, but I didn’t love Django Unchained or Inglourious Bastards. I liked Hateful Eight more, but not as much as QT’s older stuff. Still have to watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

    Back to the Furiosa trailer:
    On prequels: I am generally against them, but that’s because they are usually lazy cash ins or creatively constipated. If a studio said “we want a Furiosa prequel” and hired a random jobber I would be pissed, but this is The Man Himself Mr. George “I made Fury Road at age 70 after two animated penguin movies, fuck your expectations” Miller. Also, I am currently reading the Art and Making of Fury Road book, and based on all the work and thought that went into preproduction on Fury Road, I can see how he could have another (or multiple) movie damn near fully formed and ready to go just from that work. Seriously, they started work on Fury Road in like ’98-’99, there are drawings from back then of characters, vehicles, and concepts that were already fully formed and made it into the movie. The opening sequence with Max was storyboarded exactly as it was shot 15 years before cameras rolled! And the book has little bits of stuff they didn’t use (i’m pretty sure I spotted an aerial vehicle in the Furiosa trailer that was similar to a scrapped design from Fury Road). Miller and his collaborators have now spent more than 20 years living in and thinking about this setting and this character. In addition to all the crazy design and technical work over the years, they spent just as much time focusing on themes, characters, arcs, etc. Every little moment, image, or beat in the movie that I noticed and gave extra meaning to turned out to be intentional on the creators’ part. And then I read further and find all the stuff I DIDN’T notice, and realize there was even MORE thought put into characters, costumes, backgrounds and every single detail than I imagined.

    I am a little concerned about the more obvious digital FX in the trailer, but there are caveats: 1) the date for this movie is a very vague “2024,” these FX could still be in progress, b) this seems to be going for a much more epic scope in terms of timeline and locations which might necessitate more FX/green screens, and thirdly there were many digital FX in Fury Road that looked fine-to-great, so I think they can handle this.

    I am also very amused that Miller cast Thor and has him running around in a red cape.

  27. “I am also very amused that Miller cast Thor and has him running around in a red cape.”

    That kinda reminded me of the trailer for that SNOW WHITE movie, that Hemsworth did 10 or so years ago, that showed a shot in the trailer of him swinging an ax as if it was Thor’s hammer.

    On the topic of digital vs practical: I do appreciate the friendship between Rodriguez and Tarantino. Rodriguez is the guy who loves to do everything with computers (for better or worse), Tarantino probably cried every time one of his soundtracks was released on CD and not on tape or vinyl. (I mean, just a few years ago he openly bragged about still using VHS tapes to record stuff from TV!) It’s kinda cool that they would keep collaborating on something like that, instead of one badmouthing the other for either too modern or not modern enough.

  28. Also, pardon me, but, shame on all of us for not making Vanessa Ferlito, with her bee stung lips and gorgeous hair, into a Megastar.

  29. I rewatched the double bill this past summer, and followed it with Dusk Till Dawn, which is a pretty perfect triple bill. (And you can see the seeds for Grindhouse)

    I loved the Grindhouse experience in theaters, such a fun time and the audiences were all into it each time*. (The 3rd time was at The Vista in LA, the theater Tarantino bought a few years back and just reopened. Perfect place to watch that).

    I understand the runtime gripes, and all I will say is that if they wanted to make true Grindhouse flicks they would have made them each barely squeak by that 73 minute feature runtime for each one. But since I like both flicks so much, it feels silly complaining for getting a whole bunch of stuff I like. (But the supporting characters in the Austin part of death proof I could do less of).

    But what I like most of Death Proof is how the slow boring parts felt like the dead spots of MST3K movies. From a structural pov I really appreciated that, nerdy as it sounds.

    And of course I forgot how long and awesome that car chase at the end of Death Proof is, too. Truly great stuff.

    The sleaze factor is definitely more prevalent this viewing though. Lots of rape, fetishism, bum shots, etc. Knowing the Weinstein stuff makes it a little ickier for sure. And knowing that Rodriguez blamed Weinstein for a lot of other problems isn’t cool but cest la vie.

    Still, a grand time and I wish we got more fun movies like this rather than just the amped up surface versions.

    (Last thing: 1st viewing was at a press screening with a large audience, but sitting 2 rows ahead was John Landis. And at the end of Planet Terror when the helicopter blades are being used to kill zombies EVERY gen x internet critic in our few rows nervously glanced his way and had an odd chill. (Moriarty was with me and can confirm). But he was lovely to us all in the lobby afterwards where nobody said anything about it)

  30. As far as the prequelness of FURIOSA, it was written concurrently with FURY ROAD, originally planned as an anime to be released around the same time. So it’s not like a “fans love such and such, let’s go back and make an explanation for that” type of deal. There are a couple pages on it in the great book BLOOD, SWEAT & CHROME, with crew members very excited about the story and the plans for the stunts. But it will be very different from the rest of the series as it’s an epic taking place over a number of years.

  31. I have very fond memories going to see this at an old Drive-In in Santa Cruz not long before it closed down forever (R.I.P. Skyview Drive-In). Due to the length, they showed it as an actual double feature, meaning it included an intermission featuring “let’s go out to the lobby” style title cards promoting the snack bar. At the time, I thought that this was PART OF THE movie and it just blew my mind.

    Thanksgiving was my favorite of the fake trailers and am curious about the feature because of your review Vern!

  32. Of course the double feature didn’t happen outside of the US

    I wish I’d been looking out of the window when the train I caught to watch it suddenly punched through the core of the earth and shot to the other side of the planet in a matter of seconds. Would have really set the tone!

    Eli Roth was talking about him and Edgar Wright doing a THANKSGIVING/DON’T double feature as GRINDHOUSE 2

    Tarantino finally programmed an erstaz GRINDHOUSE 2 and GRINDHOUSE 3 for the tenth anniversary, pairing MACHETE with HELL RIDE and MACHETE KILLS with MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. Larry Bishop might still be giving the after-screening talk about Hell Ride at this moment.

  33. So I should change it to “the double feature didn’t happen in some countries”? You’ll have to decode that for me.

  34. I have my disappointments with Rodriguez but definitely not about Planet Terror. Although he’s certainly not the same guy that made Desperado anymore. Which is my favorite movie of his. I don’t care about his personal life. All I care about is what’s on the screen.

  35. Kyu: Ahh yes, the glorious Shithouse 3 Cinema in University Village. I saw many a movie in my time living on campus at USC. One in particular I remember was seeing Scream 2 there when it was pouring rain outside, and by the light of the screen seeing two big fat wet rats scurrying up the aisle towards me. That cinema was definitely very real.

  36. Muh: “cut the boring shit with the new batch of women…we don’t need to see them debate if they’re going to borrow that car because we fucking know they will so get to it, asshole.”

    Ah, but this is motormouth Tarantino we’re talking about here. Of course we’re going to have long colorful dialogue scenes.

    Actually I thought it was funny that PLANET TERROR is such an assault on the senses and then DEATH PROOF is deceptively slow and talky in a way that practically dares you to walk out on it, as people probably did during the B feature of actual double features back in the day. And in this case the people who stuck with it had their patience rewarded by the end.

    But I’m with you on having nostalgia for the pulpier side of 1990s cinema.

  37. GRINDHOUSE in its entirety did play in the UK, but it was a limited release about a year after it was released in the US and more significantly some six months after the individual versions of DEATH PROOF and PLANET TERROR had underwhelming releases here (PLANET TERROR might have been a limited release too), a sign of the extent to which this project didn’t really click with the public when you consider that our hipster hides were into Tarantino before the US was.

    I didn’t see it in the cinema in any form but quite enjoyed the two films (and the trailers) when they hit DVD, but I do get where jojo is coming from and don’t entirely disagree. I’ll leave it at that.

    My only complaint is somewhere in this review should have been the line “Stacy Ferguson (IT’S FLASHBEAGLE, CHARLIE BROWN)”.

  38. I dont doubt Rodriguez when he said they tried to bury teh movie cause that shit straight up didn’t release in Australia propperly either.
    I had pretty much the same experience as CJ, from memory I don’t think either got a cinema release, then Planet Terror got released on it’s own on blu ray, then like years later we finally got the two movies packed together that had all the fake trailers and shit, cause that stuff just wasn’t available anywhere here.

  39. They probably didn’t see the point considering the bomb it was in the US. They just went into triage at that point, trying to wring cash from that very expensive stone. Sounds like everywhere else got the separated versions trying to double up on the money. Which I don’t see working that well…both movies are fine but not sure that I’d have paid to see just one, neither is quite strong enough. I nee the whole package.

  40. I laugh every time someone references Tarantino retiring after making one more film, since on the WTF podcast interview with Tarantino he admitted to Marc Maron that was just a bit he was pulling on journalists. I just listened to it again. He said he’d stop making movies after ten “with a giggle” in his voice, but they don’t want to hear the giggle “because that’s not clickbait”.

  41. I want that to be the case but he has talked about it so many times in so much detail since then, I think it’s pretty clear he’s serious. Whether or not he sticks with it is the question.

  42. He’s not joking…but he has given himself out…like if he came up with something amazing he’d do it. He just won’t feel a need to write the next movie. If anything what sounds more interesting to me is him talking about doing miniseries. Finally he can do the long movie he wants and not have to cut a bunch out to get it to the (vaguely) commercially acceptible two and a half hours. Plus a lot of his movies are so segmented with different plotlines anyway they’d make for good shows…spend an ep on this plot, then one over here and by the end they all converge.

  43. Would anyone really care that much if he just went ahead and made an 11th/”11th” film? Wouldn’t it just be like every band who had a “farewell tour”, or Jagger saying he doesn’t want to be doing it at Elvis’s age or Stallone saying how ridiculous a fourth ROCKY would be? Yeah he’s said it a lot and he’d get some flack for it, but it would just be like most such controversies, hardly anyone would really care and that’s just out of the pretty small sample of people who would even know or at least remember.

  44. His legion of fans, of which I count myself as one, certainly wouldn’t care if QT cranked them out beyond NUMBER 10. As long as they remain quintessentially his movies and not some Hired Gun stuff that almost tanked Night Shyamalan’s career before he crawled out of that. Or I’d settle for some TRUE ROMANCE-type situation where another auteur with vision brings his script to life, though I’m convinced the reverse wouldn’t work.

  45. Grindhouse came out my freshman year of high school, when my Dad (my main supplier for access to R-Rated movies as a kid) was not in contact with my family after getting arrested the previous summer. I spent so long trying to make the case to my (born again Catholic, R-Rated Movie disapproving) mom to take me, as I’d already long since become a devoted RobRod head. She, a newly divorcing single mom, actually ended up getting a lot out of both movies. She loved Plucky Cherry Darling, Dakota Block escaping her creepy husband, and the tough, cute, funny girls of Death Proof slaying Stuntman Mike, the ending of which had her and my small theater hollering together. A really great, formative moviegoing experience where strangers left feeling bonded, like they’d been on a roller coaster together. Before the next week was over, she bought herself the Death Proof soundtrack and spent the summer blasting Chick Habit whenever she was in the car.

    I don’t know why Grindhouse didn’t connect or why it bombed so hard. I obviously love and am fascinated by RobRod, the heavy metal cowboy dad of american independent cinema, but his case for why it was actually virtuous for him to work with Harvey again and put him in rooms with McGowan a bunch more often does feel deeply disingenuous. He says the film cost him “my marriage of 16 years, my family,” but that seems a little convenient to frame as a consequence of standing up to Harvey when he’s omitting an affair with the lead actor.

  46. Thanks for sharing that, I love the story about your mom enjoying it. Yeah, it was such a bomb but it was a great moviegoing experience for those of us who were excited for it.

  47. ” but that seems a little convenient to frame as a consequence of standing up to Harvey when he’s omitting an affair with the lead actor.”


    I love you RobRod(Great abbreviation, so am helping myself to it!), about 60% of your filmography’s in my blu-ray collection but hanging the end of your marriage on the movie is some next level horseshit. Am sure it must have been “painful” getting served divorce papers, but am willing to bet it was far more painful for your wife and mother of your 5 kids not to mention your producing partner finding out you’ve been fucking your leading lady. The fact that the affair ended soon after and McGowan gave an interview years later alleging some obsessively jealous behavior from RobRod on set shows this wasn’t exactly some Finding Your True Soul Mate shit. Just a handsome, talented film-maker who decided to use his position of privilege to bang his actress, as most likely has been happening from the day men were first handed a megaphone and learnt to say “Action!”.

  48. As for Grindhouse, naturally it wasn’t released in my little corner of the world so my first acquaintance with this was via the DVD release of Death Proof, which I enjoyed immensely, while acknowledging it’s lesser QT. So, watching it as a complete stand-alone movie and not as part of a double bill, couldn’t quite understand the criticisms lobbed at it. Yeah it’s talky, but that’s all Tarantino movies! A lot of talking with bursts of violence. This is the man whose first movie was about the aftermath of a heist, a heist you’re never shown, whose next movie had Bruce Willis on the run for a man he killed boxing in a bout you never saw, gave you a war movie with not a single scene of battle, a Western that placed everyone indoors for 90% of it’s run-time and whose most action packed movie top loaded it’s biggest set piece in the 1st part not to mention cheekily never showing the full church massacre that sets it’s protagonist on her “Roaring Rampage of Revenge”. So Walter Hill or John McTiernan, he ain’t.

    Growing up as the sole male on my father’s side, spent many hours in all-female company, listening to ceaseless chatter among my half a dozen cousin sisters and my own sister, and I always felt QT brilliantly captured how women interact and talk in this movie, and while the Second Quartet are the clear Ass-Kickers you cheer for, multiple re-watches actually has me feeling closer to the first group, especially in light of the air of fatality that hangs over them. Quartet 2 is a bit of a Niche Team, boasting of 2 stunt women, an actress and a make up artist, but the first group are just regular girls, just wanting to smoke weed, drink, talk and get away to a weekend cabin for some R&R.

    And it’s a movie that reminded forgetful assholes just what a Cool Bad-Ass Kurt Russell is!

    Yeah, so Death Proof is cool in my little book is what I’m trying to say.

    Planet Terror, which I saw later is oodles of fun, it’s a quintessential RR Movie the way Death Proof is QT through and through, but it never let’s you forget this is all just some cheeky facsimile of the exploitation movies it’s supposedly paying homage to.

    I’ll end with a quote from one of my fave critics Walter Chaw in his review of Grindhouse:

    “Robert Rodriguez is better at making an old exploitation movie and Quentin Tarantino is better at capturing the joy of watching old exploitation movies, meaning that the Rodriguez half of Grindhouse is exuberant, post-modern camp and the Tarantino half is, as Tarantino’s films usually are, pure delight.”

  49. One of the big differences of all the talk in Tarantino’s other movies is a lot of times it gets used a lot for suspense, drama or some interesting character stuff, while the talk in Death Proof is…chatter. The characters aren’t really that interesting except for Kurt Russell but more because he’s Kurt Russell. There’s not really much of specifical dramatic interest happening in all the talk of Death Proof because it’s so divorced from the “good stuff.” Mayeb the closest he’s come to replicating that is Once Upon a Time in Hollywood where large chunks of the movie are dialogue without necessarily a compelling story, but still the characters and mileau seems more interesting.

  50. You guys, did you know that Tarantino directed an episode of ER? I’m sure you did, but I recently started watching the show (because for some odd reason I felt in the mood for a medical drama and this was available) and as someone who doesn’t care about this guy, it was quite the surprise when his name suddenly popped up in the credits. The reason why nobody ever talks about it was probably because he is really just directing someone else’s script, which on the other hand makes it noteworthy. Don’t think there is another case of him ever doing it. Even his CSI episode happened because he pitched a plot to the producers.

    The story of him realizing that he didn’t have the final cut and then started to shoot only one take of each scene, so that they had to use the scenes he wanted, doesn’t make me like him much more though. (Dude, you made two movies and believe they would let you go wild on the set of a network drama? Come on!) But it is funny that everything that would probably earn him lots of praise for this episode and would be seen as a trademark, specifically the very long takes where the steadycam swooshes from room to room and focuses on a million different people having long conversations, are just what happens in every episode.

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