NY Comic Con part 1

Posted by Jose On October - 19 - 2010ADD COMMENTS


James Robinson (left) comic book writer of Starman and Jose Antonio Rivera (right), contributor for Thoughts on Cinema.

MEETING YOUR IDOLS

By: Jose Rivera

Often it’s said that you shouldn’t meet your idols—that more times than not, you’ll end up disappointed. In my time going to comic conventions, I’ve seen the face of fans who’ve met the men and women who have inspired them over the years. Sometimes, it’s the look of satisfaction, sometimes it’s the look of “oh…well, then,” as if a grand moment they imagined in their heads had been deflated. On a personal level, I’ve had some experiences with creators that have turned into lasting friendships, and there were those meetings where I left feeling like I had gotten the bum’s rush so the artist or writer could get me out of the way and knock their ever-growing line out of the way so that person could go to lunch. Either way, meeting people you look up to is always a mixed bag, but in the case of this year’s New York Comic Con, I think I got away with the exception to the rule.

Walking along the con floor with my sister, I noticed someone talking to Joe Casey at the Man of Action Booth. He was tall, had short hair, a black and white checkered shirt, and there was something about him all too familiar. It took me a moment to place the face, but when I did, I could feel a star-struck paralysis over take me. Standing just mere feet away from me was James Robinson!

It is here that I have to take a moment to explain just why I felt that awesome and scary feeling I got when seeing him. Back in High School, I got into his run on Starman through accessible single issues and trade paperbacks. I’ve loved comics all my life, but Starman was the first comic to make me stand up and take notice of the writing, as opposed to the art or the big important event tied to a certain issue. I looked at devices like foreshadowing, story-arcs and long term characterization for the first time and how intricately they were woven into the narrative, all while telling an outstanding story of a guy who slowly over time evolves into a man. I had been toying with the notion into getting into writing, but after reading Starman, it was a done deal. This entire run is something I cite as a big inspiration for me to get into writing.

So there was Robinson, walking down Artist’s Alley. Normally, I’m not one to go up to a stranger and strike a conversation. And, for a second I was debating whether or not I should go up and say something. But, I went for it—I can’t say if that was due to some surge of courage, or for the fact that he wasn’t on the list for the convention, so it was a now or never moment…but I went for it!

I remember asking him, “Excuse me? Are you James Robinson?” Startled, he said “Yes, I am.” I’ll admit, not the best way to start off a conversation, when I already knew who he was, but I was running on adrenaline and luck. I introduced myself and shook his hand. I can’t remember the exact words, but I told him I was a big fan of his work and told him how much of an inspiration he was for me to the point where his work made me want to go to school for writing. Humbly, he nodded, smiled and thanked me. Seeing so many people at conventions talking to people they idolized just ramble on and on when the person couldn’t care less, I decided to make the convo short and sweet. I thanked him for his time and I shook his hand again as I left.

Of course, this is me and in the short time I walked away from him, it hit me… “Oh shit! I didn’t have anything for him to sign to me!” I’m big on personalized signatures because A) It shows I actually enjoy the work as opposed to being someone who grabs autographs to sell on Ebay and B) It’s a keepsake from a moment where I got to go up to someone who’s work I enjoy and thank them. Sadly, because I wanted to wait until the last day of the convention (which was the next day) to buy it, I didn’t have the latest Starman Omnibus on me. Granted, this was a great story to tell people, but I wanted something that showed I got to meet one of my idols. As my sister was with me and she had her camera with her, I asked her for a favor.

I remember Robinson being only a few feet behind me when I turned around to him. “Mr. Robinson, I hate to bother you, but I was wondering if I could get a photo with you?” I said nervously. He said “Of course,” in a way that made me energetic and not feel like a fool for asking. My sister raised her camera and took the photo. It took about two tries but I can safely say I got it! And when I thanked him again and left, I was literally jumping up and down the aisles with the biggest smile on my face.

It may have seemed strange just coming up to him and blathering on about how much I was a fan and how he did something special in my life, but he was so gracious about it. And while it was a case of it being another day for him and a big moment for me, he never once gave me the impression I was bothering him or wasting his time. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but that professionalism he gave really stood out for me.

They say you shouldn’t meet your idols for fear of disappointment. But, on that day, by sheer random luck I got to meet the man who started me on the road to writing that I’m still walking to this day.

-Jose

American Werewolf in London

Posted by ron On October - 18 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Perhaps nothing satisfies your craving for top shelf, lowbrow humor quite like a John Landis film. From the Kentucky Fried Movie, Animal House, and the Blues Brothers, one should be prepared for sleazy, raunchy satirical fun. Yet Landis’ crude but effective tactics never failed to pay tribute to the works that inspired him. If imitation is the best form of flattery, An American Werewolf in London was a fitting 80s tribute to the 1941 classic, the Wolf man starring Lon Chaney Jr. In this re-telling of a grim tale, two NYU college kids were backpacking across the English countryside on a damp cool night until a vicious man-beast would forever change their fortunes.

Unless you’ve been living on the moon, one would find it extremely difficult not to have some preconceived knowledge of the werewolf curse. Werewolves continue to be one of the oldest folklore legends, so Landis made the executive decision not to waste any time with the origin of the curse. In the London hospital, the bitten survivor played by David Naughton literally referenced Lon Chaney Jr in the Wolf Man in order to blatantly spell out a familiar fate for our sympathetic character that conveniently shared the bed of his Florence Nightingale.

The film attempted no plot twists but Landis upgraded the main character’s guilt with visceral visuals of David’s nightmares and hallucinations generated by his subconscious. It’s a crude but inventive way to externalize, internalized thoughts. It’s also a vehicle to utilize some of the greatest special effects artists in the history of cinema that continue to be spoken about today. In the third act when David sat in the XXX movie theatre and spoke to his deceased best friend, one wondered if this later inspired a similar scene in Richard Kelly’s Donnie Darko. Horrific imagery might have undermined the actor’s ability to project a tortured soul but it fit Landis’ personality to perfection.

If you’ve seen this film before, try substituting the werewolf curse for socialized medicine and one might have some refreshing fun in a second take. An American college kid backpacked across England, jumped by hooligans, and taken to a London hospital. Now reconstitute this film with every public servant having dismissed a crazy American believing in the infectious idea of affordable healthcare but never doubting its existence before having to put him down for good.

In my trois liquor rating scale of one bourbon one Scotch and one beer, An American Werewolf in London rated a relaxing fall beer as a guilty pleasure to share with old friends during this Halloween.

Cheers,
Ron

The Devil’s Backbone

Posted by ron On October - 15 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Cronos, Mimic, Blade II, Hellboy, and Hellboy II: The Golden Army highlights a healthy body of work by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. A master storyteller who mixes bizarre visual language with desperate characters caught in a maelstrom of danger. It’s this fragile emotional sense of loss conveyed by these isolated characters at their most vulnerable moments that gives Del Toro’s films meaning and transcends all language barriers.

Much like its successor Pan’s Labyrinth, the characters were swept up in the middle of the Spanish Civil War in The Devil’s Backbone. A naïve boy named Carlos was given sanctuary in an orphanage haunted by a dark secret. Like Carlos, the audience was isolated from what was going on in the orphanage. What appeared to be an institution with good intentions harbored something evil. A giant defused bomb served as an ominous metaphor that was symbolic of the infidelity, murder, and hidden treasure subplots. More than just a poltergeist, this Spanish film had a lot of rich subtext to its story. It was as much a coming of age story as it was a horror film.

As a brilliant storyteller, Del Toro slowly but surely mixed all the ingredients to a steady boil. At a very young age, Carlos was left in the care of strangers. He was forced to adjust to his new existence. As the new kid on the block, he had to earn his place amongst the other orphans. His interactions with the other characters revealed pieces to the puzzle. What happened to the previous occupant of bed #12? As Carlos delved deeper into the mystery of Santi, it became clear the threat within the Orphanage exceeded the dangers that it was supposed to shelter him from.

The Devil’s Backbone didn’t rely on jump scares but the uncomfortable feeling of being alone and vulnerable. The film was a play on what we don’t understand and what we would rather believe. It didn’t have to rely on the look of the apparition itself because the suspense was generated with care. The horror was in knowing something awful was going to happen but not knowing exactly when. It’s this off balance feeling of terror where the film’s effectiveness was instrumental.

When the story concluded, every character paid the consequences for their involvement as the overlapping storylines drew to a close. No evil was left unpunished and some things cannot be left behind.

In my three liquor grading scale of One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, the Devil’s Backbone rated as a very rich dark beer during the fall as the October nights grow closer towards Halloween.

Cheers,
Ron

Monsters

Posted by ron On October - 2 - 20102 COMMENTS


Monster chasing is definitely not recommended in the Lonely Planet guide.

If modern journalism has taught us anything, reckless professionals will foolishly do anything for a buck to get a story that will piss people off. Like an episode of storm chasers, Monsters followed a photojournalist and his employer’s daughter across a quarantined part of Mexico. What they discovered was something to behold in awe for 10 minutes but it was not enough to maintain an interest in nearly two hours of insubstantial dialogue. In a film entitled, Monsters the audience would be led to believe there are creatures to see in this movie. Instead, this film resembled a zoo ride that passed by an empty cage covered with beautiful shrubbery.

The film began by teasing the audience with severely damaged skyscrapers within a Central American city. Contrary to the residents in District 9, the citizens seem comfortable with enormous ten-story squid like creatures roaming around killing citizens, damaging property, and redirecting traffic on a daily basis. That might seem far fetched even for a extraterrestrial force of nature but even more ridiculous was a journalist paid $50,000 to take a photograph of children victimized by the beasts. Considering the exchange rate, wouldn’t a billionaire news mogul pay 5,000 Mexicans $5 each to get snap shots of such a giant monster? Never mind, any global satellite using google maps might get you a photograph for free. Well this misallocation of finances might be one reason why the newspaper business is in such financial distress.

Without the finances to center the movie around the monsters, the movie quickly became a travel ad for the beautiful Mexican countryside. Our brave photojournalist has an ex-wife and kid. His boss’s single daughter was a winner from the genetic lottery of super models. Every encounter with the Mexican people who are stuck within this quarantined area was a positive experience. Even hired armed mercenaries seemed nonchalant protecting a couple of gringos from a threat that could easily wipe them all off the planet.

Naturally, our main characters reached the US-Mexico border alive. Apparently, the US government can’t seem to erect walls big enough to keep gigantic Illegal aliens outside of the country. The viewer saw the only American looters vs none in Mexico. By the time the money shot for the close encounter arrived, the film ceased to have any interest at all. It seemed even more implausible that the characters romantically bonded through this extremely dangerous experience of monster chasing throughout Mexico.

Stingy CGI, stale characters, and a wimper of an ending forced me to rate Monsters a warm flat beer in my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, and one beer.

Cheers,
Ron

Night of the Living Dead

Posted by ron On October - 2 - 20109 COMMENTS


Duane Jones played the last man with a brain, literally.

After more than 40 years and thousands of movie reviews later, Night of the Living Dead continues to inspire and recycle horror fans from one generation to the next. So much has been written about this 1968 classic, any movie critic would be severely challenged to say anything that hasn’t been said before. However, this isn’t a review to challenge movie critics but rather to compliment its enjoyment for fans and critics alike. 

With the brand of visceral cruelty that modern horror films seem to favor, it’s hard to believe that in 1968 teenagers were disturbed by the violence in Night of the Living Dead. Even by today’s standards of a PG-13 rating, the method by which the violence in this film was shot seemed amateurish except for the fact that any female character slapped by a man would eventually have papers served by the end credits. Yet, this film still has some revolutionary elements today. 

Some 40+ years later horror films still haven’t really warmed up to an African American lead or minority protagonists in general. Duane Jones played such a straight arrow that any man could relate to him. As Ben he finds himself in a situation that he doesn’t understand. Ben knew he had to keep his wits about him in order to survive. Audiences who rooted for him against the overwhelming odds, felt the ending was an agitating cruel twist of fate. Jones commanded the big screen when he described the gruesome sight of body parts torn apart as he drove a truck through a crowd of zombies. At that point, the film transcended racial differences because any audience can relate to the physical and psychological struggle. Never mind Jack Johnson’s coined phrase, “the great white hope.” Ben was the America’s last hope for sanity in an insane world plagued by zombies.

Night of the Living Dead never relied solely on jump scares. The slow drawn out build of suspense was its bread and butter. Any audience was aware of what was coming because a majority of the shots placed the unaware victim in the foreground with the infectious zombie horde slowly advancing into overwhelming numbers. The pacing was so drawn out that today it might require some patience and restraint not to scream out “run goddam it”. Still the film had a design where every encounter with the undead had a subtle, calculated build up that almost caught one slightly off guard. A few zombies might not seem formidable but a claustrophobic climax with a relentless horde presented a different effect. 

Romero’s ground breaking film might never have the same theatre value with ticket prices far from the 1968 prices. However, the orchestra soundtrack will always continue to delight anyone hosting friends in their home with entertainment centres and cozy couches. Night of the Living Dead will always be the perfect conversation starter for all ages of horror fans alike because its the beginning of many good things to come.

In my homage to George Thorogood’s one bourbon, one Scotch, and one beer I rate Night of the Living Dead as a cozy bourbon on a cool autumn October evening with friends. 

Cheers,
Ron                    

Never Let Me Go

Posted by ron On October - 1 - 20106 COMMENTS


Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Kiera Knightly caught in a love triangle that none have much time to contemplate the meaning of emotions.

With no parents or idea whom she’s modeled after, Kathy H played by the wonderfully talented Carey Mulligan knew nothing of herself or the world around her besides what she’s taught to act and think at Hailsham, a regimented boarding school for special children. She had roughly 31 years to become self aware and process all the things humans take for granted before she would be harvested like cattle.

Never Let Me Go was a rarity in film. It’s pure science fiction. There were no plot twists to blindside you. No expensive CGI or elaborate action sequences. Instead the film challenged the audience with how much of it was grounded in reality.

If you had a very brief life span without the ability to reproduce, how would you go about it without anyone teaching you? Hailsham students wouldn’t have much time to comprehend or to even experience love. Therefore true love becomes a very rare and sacred for the children of Hailsham. The direction and acting was effective in differentiating sex from love. Sex is something to experience and enjoy in the moment. Love is something you can never forget or let go. The viewer understood the importance of love through Kathy’s memories. The audience understood her first memory of Tommy, the importance of his gift to her, and her stunning awareness beyond her years. Tommy played by Andrew Garfield had a rare gift. His art carried a edge of vulnerable rage that even he couldn’t explain. How could he? He had no parents to explain his gifts but Kathy innately understood him. To complete this love triangle, Kathy had a rival and a best friend in Ruth played by Kiera Knightly. Love can be also painful as Ruth picked up on Kathy’s interest and went out of her way to keep the two apart. They remain apart during much of their young adult life. The naive interplay between the characters didn’t come off as contrived but delicate. Truth is, no matter how much time one has on the planet, you can never forget the one you love. Love is the connection between our soul and our physical existence. It stays with you till your last second of life and that is what is profound about the distance covered in Never Let Me Go.

The cinematography captured the sense of time in the film. When the trio are children, every scene took place in the Spring and Summer. As adults, the Fall and the Winter harvest foreshadowed that their life spans were growing shorter and shorter.

Mortality is a simple concept in life but what made this film so hard to digest was how hard it was to hold onto so many of the good things in life in such a short period of time. By the end, the viewer found him or herself bargaining for more time to get to know these characters. Was there an out? Why not Escape?

The answer simply put, these characters couldn’t escape what they were born to be from the start. They were never given any choice but love was the only thing they could aspire to have in their lives. They were encouraged or raised to be anything else. Its their naivety that made the audience uncomfortable to sit through the screening.

Heartbreaking, profound, and wonderfully executed, I rated Never Let Me Go as a well aged Scotch single malt in my never ending homage to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One scotch, and one beer.

Cheers,
Ron

The Social Network

Posted by ron On September - 29 - 20105 COMMENTS


Within a Harvard dorm, two college friends will embark on a journey that will ultimately define their relationship and lead to a discovery worth billions.

How much equity is in popularity contests? Apparently, the answer is in the neighborhood of 15 billion. The Social Network was a snarky dialogue driven film allegedly based on the two principle co-founders of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin. When Zuckerberg’s jealous rage and obsession with college fraternities got out of control, academic probation led to the creation of Facebook, a networking website that later established Zuckerberg as the world’s youngest billionaire. Unfortunately, his ascension wasn’t without a few casualties in friendship. Zuckerberg may have redefined networking but in the process alienated every one around him including his best friend, Eduardo Saverin.

Directed by David Fincher, the characters in the Social Network were reduced to personalities within one long internalized dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin. The seamless dialogue was delivered so that words flowed from one person to the next as if one character finished the other person’s thought. Jesse Eisenberg epitomized Zuckerberg’s one track mind and his propensity to act without fear of consequence. He was every bit as convincing as a hopelessly jaded Jewish kid whose explosive insecurities needlessly damaged his relationships. It was hard to empathize with Zuckerberg. He wanted to be sociable. He just wasn’t any good at it. Eisenberg was more than effective at making that point. Perhaps not every thing in life such as popularity can or should be rationalized. Andrew Garfield played the film’s protagonist, suave ambitious business oriented co-founder Eduardo Saverin. It’s extremely difficult to believe what really happened to Saverin and Zuckerberg’s friendship. Garfield depicted Saverin with naive loving nature for his friend, so much that it ultimately was his downfall. Can the viewer buy that he was this naive the entire time? Difficult to say. It was Saverin’s equation that served as Facebook’s search engine. Unlike Zuckerberg, Saverin believed in the idea of beating the odds in life with the terms placed upon them. He jumped into the monotonous games of sororities. Saverin also had something Zuckerberg desired, money. Enter the flamboyant and opportunistic Sean Parker played by Justin Timberlake. No stretch of the imagination, Timberlake played a rock star. He tipped the scales in the favor of leaving the East Coast with the powerful seductive financial strategy: get rich now. Only problem, hedge funds required Zuckerberg to do something very underhanded. The movie needed no visual aids for the ensuing blood bath of scathing insults. By the end of the settlement, neither Zuckerberg nor Saverin could look at each other after all the emotional damage they inflicted upon each other.

Director David Fincher’s direction, camerawork, and Trent Reznor’s incredible soundtrack encapsulated this fantastical story from the cold Harvard dorms to the warmth of the California sunshine that ultimately ended in the cold unfeeling glass room for the settlement. It was a seductive, powerful fairytale and yet, by the end the audience almost felt betrayed by an unfulfilled promise that left one wanting more. What was the real motivation behind Facebook? It’s up to you to decide.

In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One beer I am giving the Social Network a very satisfying bourbon because the intelligent aggressive dialogue, the precision and execution by the actors, and the flawless direction to captivate this bizarre tale of one young man’s ride to billions.

Cheers,
Ron

Animal Kingdom

Posted by ron On September - 26 - 20108 COMMENTS


Mother knows best in Australian crime film, Animal Kingdom

When an orphaned boy was fed to a dysfunctional family of criminals trapped by their own devices, it’s live to survive in the Australian crime film Animal Kingdom. Meet the Cody family, a narcissistic group of thuggish thieves who pulled off a bank heist so heinous that the corrupt Australian police department has made them out to be more dangerous than the Gotti family. When a random cop crossed the line and drew first blood, the stakes are raised as these criminals caged like animals within their homes plotted retribution that resulted in an all out war between hoods and cops.

Stuck in the middle of this escalating war was Joshua Cody played by James Frecheville, a precocious teenage boy whose mother died from a heroin overdose. Orphaned by his mother, he was taken in by his grandmother played by Jaki Weaver who delivered a surreal performance as a manipulative mother figure. A mixture between past TV characters Mrs. Garret and Livia Soprano, she was both nurturing and ruthless in the face of self-preservation. Guy Pierce lent his star power in a supporting role of a good cop in a bad town. He delivered his best impersonation of Commissioner Gordon. Within this family full of alpha males, Ben Mendelsohn was the Pope, Andrew Cody who was not only the architect of the bank heist but also the revenge plot gone bad main. His paranoia over his actions led to irrational antagonist behavior for most of the tension in the film.

Animal Kingdom didn’t offer any surprises. It’s literally the crime film that followed “An Offer you cannot refuse” to the letter. You can easily draw your own conclusions from the moment a Cody member was killed in cold blood. The acting wasn’t especially memorable and the movie struggled to find to end on some meaningful note. However, it is the one crime film where you never the money or hear the amount taken that every cop in Australia was after. This also might be the first crime film where the criminals did absolutely nothing but sit in their living room watching television and playing Playstation video games for almost a good 2/3rds of the film. In one scene, the young man Joshua left the living room of the Cody family to meet with his girlfriend and her younger brother was playing Playstation as well. If you’re a voracious Tea Party supporter, this film could come in handy to denounce socialist programs because from this film every one seemed to be sitting at home doing nothing.

Animal Kingdom delivered nothing but a predictable plot, uneventful performances, and a contrived ending. In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Scotch, and one beer I rated Animal Kingdom a flat warm unsatisfying beer.

Cheers,
Ron

The Exploding Girl

Posted by ron On September - 17 - 20107 COMMENTS


All eyes are on Zoe Kazan who played Ivy, a young college girl who is about to learn a tough lesson in being young with a fragile heart.

The Exploding Girl chronicled the events of a epileptic naive college girl headed towards her first major heartbreak during Spring Break in Ithaca, NY. Writer/director Bradley Rust Gray captured the sensitivity of emotionally confused youth without laying a thick coating of cream cheese dysfunctional family syndrome, an exhausted trope ever since American Beauty commanded Oscar gold.

At the center of this character study, Zoe Kazan played Ivy with cute curious complexity. There’s nothing to divulge her thoughts when she was alone but her obsessive cell phone checks. At the same time, her soulmate Al played by Mark Randall doing his best impression of Seth Green needed a place to stay after getting kicked out of his parents’ home in NYC. Young men don’t come as uncomplicated as Al. His role was served as just to advance the character and be there for her till the end. As one might have guessed by now, the man who can’t appreciate Ivy by cheating on her will ultimately nudge her to see her best friend in s new light as a committed lover who will be there for her when she’s in sickness or health.

Romantic films similar to the plot in Exploding never seem to progress beyond the cliche’ difficulty communicating feelings between young people. Even through the marvels of modern technology, the ability to reach someone always leads to yet another cliche’ way to ignore someone and yet, they can’t seem to notice what a jerk one person was over another until the 90 minute mark. In the film’s most therapeutic scene on a secluded NYC rooftop at Dawn, the Ivy finally unleashed a meltdown of tears as pigeons in formation fly around them. Its a sweet release to a tender story about two aimless young hearts finally acknowledging that the best person for them was right in front of them all this time.

In an era where romantic films accentuate career and distractions, this film kept it simple and in some ways it was easier to get through. However, the acting performances were extremely limited by the lack of content to work with. Hence, a beautifully shot and contemplative climax never goes beyond the superficiality of a story that was nonetheless predictable.

In my ode to George Thorogood’s One bourbon, one scotch, one beer I am rating the Exploding Girl a modest beer that is easy and smooth but not anything complex or full of richness.

Cheers,
Ron

Machete

Posted by ron On September - 8 - 2010ADD COMMENTS

Betrayed and left for dead Danny Trejo is Machete, a man without a country hell bent on retribution against the men who had wronged him. If this trope sounds familiar, it’s because this film contains all of the basic food groups in delicous exploitation films: Mindless bloody violence, gratuitous nudity, campy performances, and an overly simplified sociopolitical message. There were no surprises in Machete but it was enjoyable for that very reason. As a Grind house trailer, it was billed as a ridiculous tale of bloody revenge built around an emotionless unstoppable Mexican killing machine that was one part Hammurabi and two parts Jason Vorhees. It delivered on that promise.

At age 66, Trejo was a marvel to watch. His scarred leathery face and imposing frame were perfect for a moody silent type haunted by his past. However it was his flat affect and minimal responses that provided so much of the film’s comedic timing. Whether it’s playing off of Jessica Alba or any of his co-stars, Trejo’s less is more approach was the perfect foil.

On one level, Machete was a revenge film but it was also part of a larger amusingly convoluted arc that ultimately ignited a revolution led by illegal immigrants living in Texas. At no point did the audience learn much about the network run by Michelle Rodriguez to which she cryptically replied to an immigration officer, “They pay their part.” Are they encouraging more illegal immigration or possibly working towards their citizenship? No more information was yielded. How was paying the network more advantageous than applying for a work visa? At no point did the audience ever learn about Machete’s political views on illegal immigration. In fact, we did not get any indication on what the illegal immigrants hoped to gain out of risking their lives to enter in a stand off between Machete and a rogue Border Patrol death squad. Fortunately the film didn’t spend too time on the socio-political commentary. The story never made it personal, mean spirited, or over serious. It provided just enough anti-Mexican juice for the audience to get behind the main protagonist, his allies, and to cheer the end of the overly theatrical villains played by DeNiro, Seagal, Fahey, and Don Johnson.

Director Robert Rodriguez hasn’t deviated too much from his body of work that included El Mariachi, Desperado, and Once upon a Time in Mexico. He’s still stuck on revenge but I think he’s learned how to get more out of his actors. He hasn’t lost his sense of culture. Little details in this film really added some reverence for pride and the importance of cultural identity. Rodriguez continued to suffer from choppy editing that absolutely killed the climax of Machete. When all the plotlines converged to the Border Patrol Death Squad camp, the chaos was edited down to posing, firing munitions, and next person. Shockingly Rodriguez didn’t recruit more Mexican Americans to work as extras. What was supposed to be a living tsunami of illegal immigrants resembled more of a minor league baseball team in number. It was unclear on whether or not this mega battle scene was chopped up badly on purpose but I thought Trejo deserved more of a coupe de grace and so did the audience.

Still, this film brought laughs, the action, and hot women. In my never ending tribute to George Thorogood’s One Bourbon, One Shot, One Beer I am rating Machete a nice cold beer that warrants another one because it’s a tasty guilty pleasure.

Cheers
Ron

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Thoughts on Cinema is dedicated to film reviews. An uncompromising opinion on the intellectual, artistic, and entertainment value to the consumer. With rising ticket prices, we dedicate ourselves to present to you content regarding what you should or should not be viewing. -Ronald H. Pollock Founder and Editor in Chief

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