13 August 2007

Rodriguez (2003)

2003 - Once Upon a Time in Mexico - I like this movie a bit better than the other two. I guess that makes it my favorite of the Mariachi trilogy, though not by much. The first time I watched this movie, I didn't think much of it. If you're going to use a title that imitates one of the best westerns of all time, I'm going into it with high expectations. The movie just doesn't have the epic scope to live up to the title. Maybe that's an odd thing to write, given that the film is about stopping a presidential assassination. However, most of the film takes place in the center of a city. Confined by buildings in every frame, you don't get the feel of wide-open Mexico. There isn't a great sense that country-wide events are taking place. It would've been interesting to see this at the theater. There, it was cropped to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, like its namesake Leone film. Perhaps that extra wideness would've complimented the title?

Anyway, I'm just glad the plot wasn't another rehash of the first film. That may be why I liked this one the best. The movie is pro-democracy and anti-US intervention. It has the (perhaps irrational) optimism to suggest that some heads of state can look out for the needs of the people. I dig that at this point in history. Action-wise, also, I think the movie's an improvement over its predecessors. El Mariachi & Carolina's chained escape down the side of a building was a beautiful sequence to behold. El Mariachi retains his cartoonish power from Buscemi's tall tale during the beginning of Deperado, as I'd wished for, his guns exploding like cannons and propelling bad guys through the air. Add in the always interesting Johnny Depp and Willem Dafoe and it's a good time. (7/10)

2003 - Ten Minute Flick School: Fast, Cheap, and in Control - A brief look at the shooting of Once Upon a Time in Mexico. There's a lot of focus on CGI again, which is a large part of the "cheap" portion of Rodriguez's shooting philosophy. Don't mess up the church: CGI in the bullet hits later. Don't poke Cheech's eye out: use a dummy and computer composite the two together. The only practical advise to the computerless independent filmmaker was some discussion on editing to hide lack of people in crowds. (6/10)

2003 - Ten Minute Cooking School: Puerco Pibil - How to make Johnny Depp's favorite dish from Once Upon a Time in Mexico. This looks pretty tasty; I'm gonna give it a try one of these days. Rodriguez does a great job of explaining the steps necessary to cook this pork dish. He's a natural Food Network personality. This piece is also edited in a nice, punchy manner, making it fun to watch. (7/10)

2003 - Ten Minute Film School: Dream Screen Plus How to Make Cool Home Movies - The first half of this is a look at the green screen work in Spy Kids 3. It's as you'd expect. A stage. Covered in bright green. Kids pretending they're in a video game. Check, check, and check. The later half is more interesting. Rodriguez shows off some home movies he's suped-up with sound F/X, editing and a smattering of CGI. Fun. As someone now only 4 months away from being a parent, I found this part to be inspiring. I need to buy myself a new camcorder soon! (7/10)