Wednesday, August 25, 2010

[Movies] Robert Rodriguez is Insane

Robert Rodriguez is insane. He's got some sort of split-personality disorder.That's the only conclusion I can draw. How else to explain that the same man who creates ultra-violent, bloody action films from Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn to Machete is the same guy who creates kid-friendly romps like (the risible) Sharkboy and Lavagirl, the Spy Kids series and the recent Shorts. It's true! I never made the connection before, likely because it's almost too outlandish to believe - but it's the same guy.

You have to kind of respect that kind of craziness, though. Rodriguez is a unique guy, probably due in no small part to whatever mental aberration allows him to make such diverse films.I can't comment on his recent film Predators (a sort-of sequel to the classic Schwartzenegger film) because I didn't see it, but I did see the one before that - a family-friendly movie called "Shorts." It was one of the free summer movies at Regal Cinemas and it wasn't half bad. Hell, compared to Sharkboy & Lava Girl (which I truly hate) it was practically Citizen Kane.

It's the story of a magic, rainbow-colored rock that appears in a small town centered around a corporation that manufactures the "Black Box," a product that literally does it all. The storytelling is unique, broken down into five or six chapters, some of which are told out of order, by the end of which you've seen the rock change hands, cause havoc, and bring various people closer together as they struggle to deal with the messes they've gotten themselves into. It was fun, cute, and featured an array of stars including James Spader, Willim H. Macy, and Jon Cryer. One of Rodriguez's talents, incidentally, is to stuff his films full of big-name stars.

Speaking of which, his upcoming film Machete pretty much takes the cake in that department. It's a film that's meant to evoke the "blacksploitation" movies of the 70s, but with Latinos in the key roles. And the list of stars is amazing. The supporting cast includes Robert De Niro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Cheech Marin (as a dual-shotgun-wielding priest), Don Johnson and noted jailbird Lindsay Lohan. But the star is a name that may not be familiar to you, even if the face probably is: Danny Trejo. If you've seen a movie with a huge gun- or knife-wielding mexican guy in the last 20 years, it was probably Trejo. In fact, Rodriguez is said to have made this movie and character specifically for Trejo, as he thought the man deserved to be a Mexican action-hero.

As with most of Rodriguez's mature-themed films, Machete is sure to be a bloody mess of brutal combat and strutting characters facing off good vs. evil. But his films are also a joy to experience if you can force your mind to categorize the blood as simply "cartoonish violence" and then appreciate the characters (often deliberate caricatures) he creates to tell his tale. As far back as El Mariachi and Desperado, he did a masterful job of mixing hyper-exciting violence with entertaining characters to create an engaging story. Check out the trailer. I don't know if I'll catch it in the theatre, but I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it. Even if the guy who made it is insane.

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