Friday, June 27, 2008


Originally uploaded by rooomy
I’m pretty darn sure that the first Robert Rodriguez film I ever saw was Desperado - and I watched it on VHS in full frame. But it didn’t matter. I was hooked. There is something about Rodriguez to this day that remains fresh, original and unlike anything you see coming out of Hollywood. His films are invigorating. Once I got older and stopped pretending film wasn’t my life I realized how truly remarkable Desperado was.

Desperado is Rodriguez’s second feature film, but his first made in Hollywood with a budget. In one rapid move Rodriguez went from El Mariachi where he used friends and favors to make the film, to having Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek as his stars in the sequel. The film, and the back story of how it was made, are simply amazing.

Desperado picks up a few years after El Mariachi and is the second part of Rodriguez’s Mexico trilogy – which Quentin Tarantino has called Rodriguez’s Man With No Name trilogy.

The film itself picks up an undisclosed amount of years after the events in El Mariachi, but just enough time to allow the legend of the Mariachi’s vendetta against the crime lords in Mexico to spread and ruminate, creating a sense of terror when his name is mentioned. Everyone is on the lookout for a mariachi dressed in all black carrying a guitar case, terrified that they’ll be his next target.

Our mariachi has gained several teammates or allies so to speak in the second installment including a sidekick played by Steve Buscemi who has my favorite scene in the film; his job is to lay down the mariachi lore in each town Mariachi goes to and he enjoys his embellishment. This is how the film is opened to audiences as so many people did not have the opportunity to view El Mariachi before the release of Desperado; Buscemi enters a scummy bar operated by Cheech Marin and Buscemi delivers an over-exaggerated firsthand account of having to survive the Mariachi’s attack at his last bar. A tremendous scene.

Mariachi’s other allies are Campa & Quino: two other trouble makers with guitar cases as well. Campa is played by Carlos Gallardo who was the actory that portrayed Mariachi in El Mariachi. These two show up just in time to help Mariachi destroy the town and the criminals in it.

The final sidekick that Mariachi is given in Desperado is Carolina played by Salma Hayek. At the beginning of the film she is a bystander while Mariachi is being attacked and he saves her life; Carolina reciprocates the favor as Mariachi is wounded in the exchange and she doctors him up. Banderas and Hayek are delightful to watch in the film; their chemistry is palpable and they bring almost an aura of Grant & Hepburn from The Philadelphia Story to the film.

For those of you that have never heard him sing, there is a musical number in the film and yes Antonio Banderas can sing.

Like him or not there is one thing that you have to admit about Robert Rodriguez: the man is the stuff of Hollywood legend. He will be remembered for decades after he stops making films because of how he got his career and went about making his films. He is a revolutionary individual.

Director & Writer: Robert Rodriguez
El Mariachi: Antonio Banderas
Carolina: Salma Hayek
Bucho: Joaquim de Almeida
Short Bartender: Cheech Marin
Buscemi: Steve Buscemi
Pick-Up Guy: Quentin Tarantino
Navajas: Danny Trejo
Campa: Carols Gallardo
Quino: Albert Michael Jr.

Buscemi: So, I'm sitting there. And in walks the biggest Mexican I have ever seen. Big as shit. Just walks right in like he owns the place. And nobody knew quite what to make of him... or quite what to think. There he was and in he walked. He was dark too. I don't mean dark-skinned. No, this was different. It was if he was always walking in a shadow. I mean every step he took toward the light, just when you thought his face was about to be revealed... it wasn't. It was as if the lights dimmed, just for him.

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