Film The big knife Kaleem Aftab catches up with prolific filmmaker Robert Rodriguez as he continues his adventures in exploitation cinema with Machete
THE BEST FILM & DVD RELEASES
✽✽ The American George Clooney and Anton Corbijn join forces for slow-burning hitman-out-of-retirement western. See profile, index and review, page 44. General release, Fri 26 Nov. ✽✽ Machete Robert Rodriguez’s serrated Grindhouse spin-off. See feature, left and review, opposite. General release, Fri 26 Nov. ✽✽ Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Cannes’ victor finally emerges on UK screens. A masterpiece or a case of the emperor’s new clothes? You decide. See feature, page 20. Filmhouse, Edinburgh, and selected release, Fri 19 Nov. ✽✽ The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest Solid final instalment of Lisbeth Salander show. See review, opposite. Selected release, Fri 26 Nov. ✽✽ Another Year Mike Leigh’s bleak and brilliant study of love, hope and alcoholism. Selected release, out now. ✽✽ Let Me In Inspired US remake of Swedish horror Let the Right One In. General release, Fri 5 Nov. ✽✽ We Are What We Are Tasty Mexican cannibal horror. Selected release, out now. ✽✽ French Film Festival Still on, still going strong. GFT, Glasgow; Filmhouse, Edinburgh and various venues, Thu 11 Nov–Tue 7 Dec. ✽✽ Metropolis Sci-fi classic reconstructed and restored in extras heavy DVD and Blu-ray releases. See DVD panel, page 56. Out Mon 22 Nov (Eureka/Masters of Cinema). ✽✽ Limmy’s Show! DVD issue of pilot episodes of surreal BBC Scotland comedy. See review, page 56. Out now (2entertain).
Machete first came to the attention of the public as one of the eclectic trailers that appeared in the middle of Grindhouse, Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s homage to the 70s cinema experience. Although Grindhouse flopped at the box office there was a sentiment that the Rodriguez trailer, featuring Danny Trejo as a former Mexican federal policeman who goes on the rampage against his former boss, had legs. People kept coming up to Rodriguez and asking him when Machete would be released, so the San Antonio-born director decided to appease his public. ‘While it was inspired by the Grindhouse trailer, I’d come up with the idea for Machete 16 years ago,’ reveals the 42-year-old director. ‘While making Desperado I told Danny Trejo about this movie that had a very strong character that fought against drug cartels and when his family gets killed he moves from Mexico to America.’
Rodriguez to prominence with his movie debut El Mariachi in 1992, which was reputedly made for only $7000. Though he is now such a big name he can attract stars to any of his projects, his style is still firmly rooted in the B-movie tradition. Machete certainly tries to capture the essence of a low-budget film. ‘That’s why it says “Introducing Don Johnson” in the credits – we pretend that no one has seen him in anything before.’ Innovation, making the best use of resources and a liking for fantasy have been the strings that tie together all of Rodriguez’s films, whether he’s making a From Dust till Dawn-style horror thriller or a Spy Kids adventure flick for a Hollywood studio. He’s a director who likes to use tricks and rise to
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challenges. In Machete, for instance, he wanted to use every scene in the Grindhouse trailer in the actual movie. Then there are the tricks he uses to make the audience think they’re getting more bang for their buck. ‘I tend to put nudity on-screen really early in my movies,’ he explains. ‘In the audience’s mind they then think there is a lot of nudity in the whole film. Everyone thinks there is a lot of nudity in Sin City but it’s only two cases at the beginning, but in your mind you think everyone is naked from that moment on, that is my little trick.’ It’s a trick that obviously works because it feels as though Lindsay Lohan is naked throughout Machete.
Rodriguez is often labelled as a Mexican director, but to cast him in the same bracket as Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu is facile. ‘They make real Mexican cinema, because they are from Mexico. I’m Tex Mex,’ says Rodriguez. ‘Guillermo Del Toro said to me my movies are very strange, they are like a Mexico that doesn’t exist and I said: “I know, all my movies are a complete fantasy and I use Mexico as a way that people who have never been there might think that maybe it really is a place full of guitar cases packed with guns.”’
The result is a unique brand of Mexican exploitation and it’s almost certain that Machete will ride again. The director says of his penchant for franchise: ‘Once you’ve spent that long developing a character, it’s hard to let go. I already have a great idea for a sequel, Machete Kills.’ Machete is on general release from Fri 26 Nov. See review, opposite.
‘THEY ARE REAL
MEXICAN FILMMAKERS. I’M TEX-MEX’