Director Showcase – Robert Rodriguez
With Robert Rodriguez hard at work on sequels to Sin City and Machete, Tom takes a look at his career so far.
An independent film-maker of the highest calibre, Rodriguez raised the budget of $7,000 dollars for his feature length debut by partaking in medical trials, and boy am I glad that he did. A quick glance at his credits on IMDB reveals just how dedicated he is to film-making; Rodriguez often writes, directs, produces and edits his films in a startling display of efficiency considering the calibre of his output over the past two decades. He has dabbled in children’s films with mixed results but it is his violent and gritty pictures that keep his fans coming back for more.
Born in Texas, he clearly has a soft spot for the Western genre, with his El Mariachi trilogy heavily influenced by the films of Sergio Leone, and the recurring theme of vengeance throughout his filmography often leads to a large bodycount. Firm friends with Tarantino since their debuts z crowds at Sundance, Rodriguez has collaborated with him on more than one occasion and whilst the dialogue in his films is not quite as sharp as that of Tarantino’s, his films are similarly stylish and full of dark humor.
It pains me to think that Rodriguez was younger than me when he filmed El Mariachi, with his hard work and determination leading to his debut taking the Audience Award at Sundance in 1993 when he was aged just 24. When a travelling Mariachi is mistaken for a wanted criminal he is forced to hide from a villainous gang and must use all his cunning to survive in a treacherous environment where everyone shoots first and asks questions later. The low budget is evident but the exceptional story and impressive filming style led to a much larger budget for his sequel of sorts Desperado – Rodriguez was now firmly on the map.
Loosely retelling the story of El Mariachi but with far more stunt-work and star power, Rodriguez found a muse in Banderas who is perfectly suited as the handsome Mariachi whose guitar case hides his arsenal of weaponry. When he becomes involved in a war with a local drug runner, the bodies are stacked high and the stakes are stacked even higher as the mariachi’s love interest becomes a key pawn in the ensuing violence. With higher production values than El Mariachi and an even tighter script, Desperado is the standout film in a fantastically violent and inventive trilogy.
From Dusk Till Dawn
A seedy mix of violence and horror permeates this edgy crime thriller which takes the audience through one hell of a crazy experience as the wanted Gecko brothers (George Clooney in his first starring role and Quentin Tarantino) kidnap a religious family and hide out in a sleazy strip club on the Mexican border. What transpires in the club will leave any unsuspecting viewer dumbfounded as the carnage escalates to unrivaled proportions forcing the Gecko brothers to unite with their captives in order to stay alive. From Dusk Till Dawn confirmed that Rodriguez was not afraid to throw the rule book aside in favour of balls to the wall entertainment and ludicrous but highly enjoyable films.
A comic book adapation that was co-directed with Frank Miller, the genius behind the original graphic novel, Sin City is a stylish film noir that appears much like a comic strip with the monochrome visuals only occasionally giving way to vivid hues of green, red or yellow, emphasising the bleak nature of life in the miserable locale of Basin City. Three interweaving stories tell of corruption andvillainy with a star studded cast featuring Bruce Willis, Clive Owen and Mickey Rourke amongst a handful of stunningly beautiful actresses who play sexually charged but violent women.
The Faculty – Relocating the alien invasion movie to a high school was a great concept which led to this fantastic B-movie where a group of unlikely students are forced to band together to stay alive.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico – My personal favourite of the El Mariachi trilogy is often derided due to its convoluted storyline and having too many characters but if you can look past its flaws, this is a very entertaining movie that ends the trilogy in style.
Planet Terror – Arguably the better half of the Tarantino/Rodriguez collaboration Grindhouse, in Planet Terror an experimental biological weapon is released turning its victims into zombies and a rag-tag group of survivors fight to stop the infection.
Films to Avoid:
Spy Kids Trilogy? – I’m being very presumptious with the fact that I haven’t seen any of the Spy Kids trilogy but I have heard enough negative feedback from trusted film fans that indicates Rodriguez should stick with his gritty and intense adult films.
About The Author – Tom Bielby
Long time film fan and aspiring film writer, Tom is a horror fanatic who wasted far too much time at University sitting through every film in the IMDB Top 250. He is partial to foreign films and cult cinema and would love to rid the world of people who rustle their popcorn during important scenes. He can be found on Twitter under the alias @filmbantha
Are you a fan of Robert Rodriguez? Have you seen all the film mentioned here? Comment below