03 June 2007

Rodriguez (1990-1992)

1990 - Bedhead - A cute short about a brother tormenting a sister and her super-powered revenge. Sibling rivalry will be a theme that runs through most of Rodriguez's movies. Appropriately, the siblings in this movie were played by Rodriguez's real-life brother and sister.

This short film isn't too dissimilar from any student film you might see at your local college's film fest. Most noticeable about it is the energy apparent in the filmmaking. The camera flies around in a Raimi-esque manner and always seems to be zooming in on something. The kids battle in an exaggerated, slapstick way all over the yard. The pace is quick and the editing is snappy.

It's an entertaining little film, miles better than anything I managed to output in college. (7/10)

1992 - El Mariachi - The famous $7000 movie. While shooting in Mexico in the main actor/producer's hometown probably helped the budget quite a bit, this is still an impressive feat given the result.

The same energy from Bedhead infects this movie. The camera zooms through streets and dreams. The action is sped up for comedic effect. The editing of the shootouts is exciting. Rodriguez plays around with every cinematic trick he can think of. Visually, it's a fun (and funny) movie.

So, what's the deal with people ordering a beverage, taking one sip, and leaving? It wasn't explicitly pointed out in the movie, but this is what happens every time a character sidles up to a bar. Is this a standard piece of Mexican humor I'm missing out on? Or just the way the film ended up? Maybe it's like smoking in movies: giving characters a drink to briefly sip gives them something to do when they don't have any lines?

The story is the weakest bit in the film. Most of the movie is, essentially, El Mariachi accidentally running into Moco's men, who try to kill him because he fits the description of a rival criminal. The dream sequences seem to be there just because dream sequences are fun to shoot, not because they add anything. And, I realize Rodriguez had no idea he'd make two big budget sequels to this little film, but it's not much of an origin story for a hero. "He watched in horror as some woman he picked up at a bar the other day was shot in front of his eyes." or "He fights crime because he can no longer play the guitar." It's not exactly in the same neighborhood as Bruce Wayne or Frank Castle's reasons for their wars on crime.

Still, I wish I had the gumption to sell my body to science in order to make a movie. If anything, I admire Rodriguez for his determination. (7/10)