Desperado – South of the Border week

This is South of the Border week. We will be featuring movies taking place in Mexico. Desperado is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Desperado (1995) – Rated R for strong bloody violence, a strong sex sequence and language.

“This south-of-the-border action flick picks up where the indie hit El Mariachi left off. Seedy drug lord Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida) is responsible for killing the girlfriend of El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) and for injuring the musician to a point where he can no longer play the guitar. Seeking revenge, he goes in search of Bucho, and a showdown ensues between the rivals — but not before El Mariachi meets the lovely Carolina (Salma Hayek).”

“Bless me Father, for I have just killed quite a few men.”

Robert Rodriguez again writes, directs, produces, and edits for Desperado. Taking on so many tasks allows him to make films for a lot less.

Here he had $7 million to work with. This allowed him to work with a number of name actors and use a lot more real guns than in El Mariachi (which used squirt guns for many of the scenes).

Desperado is nominally a sequel to El Mariachi though it rehashes much of the plot and themes from the original (a la Evil Dead II).

The second bar fight is absolutely hilarious and is obviously very heavily inspired by John Woo. It is a very elaborate setpiece with a wonderful standoff. Rodriguez keeps his action frantic without being confusing (something that has become all too common these days).

Antonio Banderas is very charismatic as the Mariachi. This is the best role I have seen him in. He even does all of his own guitar work including “Cancion Del Mariachi” at the beginning of the film.

Salma Hayek is gorgeous and fun as Carolina. There is a hilarious scene  where she crosses the street and two cars behind her crash because they are watching her. I like it because she holds her own and is not just the love interest.

Robert Rodriguez stated that when they filmed the sex montage sequence between Salma Hayek and Antonio Banderas, everyone on the crew showed up.

Joaquim de Almeida plays our villain Bucho. This is essentially the same role Moco (Peter Marquardt) played in the original. Bucho is a boss much like Moco and dresses all in white just like Moco. Joaquim replaced Raul Julia, who had to drop out due to health reasons.

The supporting cast is absolutely marvelous.

Cheech Marin and Quentin Tarantino have a lot of fun with their humorous roles.

Steve Buscemi plays the conscience of the Mariachi. The role is so tailored to him that the character is actually called Buscemi. Originally he was to have been the pick-up guy but a new role was written for him when Tarantino decided to cameo.

Danny Trejo plays a knife-wielding assassin, Navajas. This is a very similar character to Azul in El Mariachi. Danny is finally going to headline a movie. Robert Rodriguez has made a feature-length movie out of his fake Grindhouse trailer, Machete and it is currently in post-production.

Carlos Gallardo returns from El Mariachi. This time he plays Campa, a friend to El Mariachi.

I highly recommend this quintessential action movie unless gore bothers you. If you enjoy this and El Mariachi then stick the final film in the trilogy, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, in your DVD queue.

People Watch: Actually not so much a “people” watch as a prop watch. The crotch gun that Carolina finds in the guitar case is sadly never used here. It is however used the following year in From Dusk Til Dawn (by Tom Savini no less).

Interview with the Vampire

Unfortunately I was out of town all day yesterday so I missed my chance to post every day in October. I’ll post twice today to make up for it. I thought first we’d take a look at some vampires adapted from other medium.

Interview with the Vampire

WATCH: Interview with the Vampire (1994) – “Director Neil Jordan’s Oscar-nominated tale of bloodsucking immortals moves from 18th century New Orleans to a Grand Guignol theater in Paris to present-day San Francisco as it explores betrayal, love, loneliness and hunger. The lives of a trio of vampires — cavalier Lestat (Tom Cruise), tormented Louis (Brad Pitt) and childlike Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) — are interconnected for centuries in this adaptation of Anne Rice’s romantic horror tale”

Anne Rice was livid when she found out her vampire Lestat was going to be played by noted Scientologist Tom Cruise. Pretty much any film Tom Cruise is in becomes a Tom Cruise film (due in part to Tom Cruise being so powerful that he often retains final cut and has no problem overruling directors though in this case Neil Jordan retained final cut) so she certainly had cause for alarm. It was a wonderful surprise then when Tom Cruise gave a riveting, masterful portrayal of Lestat – indeed in my opinion it is his absolute best performance. For those who adore male scenery, in addition to stars Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, we also have Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, and Stephen Rea. A very young Kirsten Dunst almost manages to steal the show from Cruise as a gloriously creepy young lady. Anne Rice does a wonderful job of adapting her own novel amd Neil Jordan’s direction is superb. The cinematography and atmosphere in the film is wonderful as well if you can manage to tear your eyes away from the performers long enough to enjoy it. To her credit, Anne Rice not only apologized to Tom but took out a two-page ad in Vanity Fair and the New York Times endorsing the movie.

AVOID: Bloodrayne (2006) – This film is simply dreadful. Uwe Boll is widely recognized as one of the (if not the) worst genre director in the world. His films are not hilariously incompetent like Ed Wood’s but simply unwatchably incompetent. I swear that I needed a dramamine to sit through House of the Dead with my daughter. This one is no different in spite of the presence of slumming actors Michael Madsen, Ben Kingsley, Michael Pare, Billy Zane and Udo Kier.