Monday, May 4, 2009
FotM: Rebel Filmmaking
Those in the know of indy film know that in the 90’s Rodriguez was one of the bold new voices that revolutionized the world of film – and he did it with a movie he made all by himself in Mexico during summer vacation called El Mariachi. While I admit that El Mariachi is quite the impossible feat I did not discover Rodriguez through his low budget gun-slinging mariachi film, I discovered him because of the follow-up to that film - Desperado.
When I first watched Desperado I loved it. I was a high school student and the action, dialogue and general coolness exuded from the film and drew me in. As I got into filmmaking and learned more about Rodriguez the film became even more special- Desperado is not only a superior film to El Mariachi but the film is the embodiment of what every young filmmaker hopes for, it’s the golden ticket, the blank check, the first real green light in the big leagues.
You see El Mariachi was a tiny movie initially put together by Rodriguez for $7,000 on the hopes that he could sell it to the Spanish video market or at least learn from his mistakes. But it got interest. He got an agent. The film was bought & released. Soon afterward the studio approached Rodriguez to make Desperado and Rodriguez was no longer working with friends on break from school, or random people who were interested in his film; now the Mariachi was played by Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek was the damsel and Steve Buscemi, Cheech Marin & Quentin Tarantino also starred. Rodriguez was given the opportunity to make a real, large studio film and he excelled.
In Desperado Rodriguez didn’t try to play it safe, he pushed to make a great film and the success of Desperado is completely based on the level of quality he pushed out. To this day Steve Buscemi’s opening dialogue in the Mexican bar is still one of my favorite film gags in any action movie, I still think that Hayek’s Carolina is an excellent sharp-tongued damsel and no one can sling a guitar case like Banderas.
If you haven’t seen Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy I encourage you to at least take the time to see the first two films. You’ll enjoy El Mariachi but in the end I think you will agree with me that Desperado is the better of the two.