Monday, April 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....MACHETE (Twice!) (2010)

Danny Trejo looks to have some words with the critics....
1) Make no bones about it--Richard Rodriguez has become the greatest living purveyor of weapon porn. This film fetishizes its weapons to a ridiculous degree, and recognizes that there's something primal inside of every man that makes them respond to a hot woman firing an impressive piece of firepower.

2) Rodriguez also doesn't forget that, at its core, this film began as a thoroughly over the top joke at the beginning of Grindhouse. As such, it never loses sight of the fact that it's supposed to be ludicrous, even when its sermonizing about American Ideals and Immigration.

3) And Rodriguez seems to have found his Rosetta Stone in the faux-70's wear-and-tear look he and Tarantino created for Grindhouse. The prologue is done in that same style, and he's so effective in creating that look that, when I tried to watch it the first time, I thought the film suddenly going out of synch at the 40 minute mark was intentional.

4) I forgive Steven Segal for passing on The Expendables to play the bad guy in this film--and doing so with humor and humility we haven't seen in him for ages.

5) Rodriguez is so successful in creating the sort of iconic characters we usually find in comic books--in addition to Machete, we see an 'origin' story for a character called 'She' that borrows liberally from both the pulps and the legendary exploitation classic They Call Her One Eye--that I shudder to think what would happen if he ever is unleashed on an actual comic book property (why am I thinking his version of the most recent Blue Beetle might rock hard?)

6) Robert DeNiro dressed as a day laborer blowing people away? Comedy gold.

7) Rodriguez is very careful to include all the major shots we remember from the trailer--although the inclusion of Lindsey Lohan as the daughter in the waterfall scene doesn't quite work. Later shots of her in a nun habit shooting down bad guys with a gun that's 90's muzzle are.

This picture works on soooo many levels....
8) The script, while being silly and corny and out of its mind, doesn't waste a single line. Everything pays off--even the silly exchange of dialogue between the character of Doctor Felix and the AVellan twins' Nurse Mona and Nurse Lisa. And speaking of the twins....

9) Personal obsession Electra and Elise do have minor roles in this film....and while they do not jump into the nudity fest that Lohan, Jessica Alba and others take part in...there is more of them doing what they do best--handling weapons and acting nuts. They're also responsible for one of the funniest lines in the movie ("My uterus can feel your eyes on it").

Believe it or not, this is not the silliest Robert DeNiro looks
in this movie...
10) Danny Trejo may be the single most unlikely action hero ever--but that might be why he's so perfect in this film. The sight of this short, stocky, undeniably ugly man doing the things that we've seen so many other actors do before (including such actors as Segal, Don Johnson and Jeff Fahey, who play the triumverate of baddies in the movie) adds another delicious level of insane surrealness to everything.

Overall...a gleefully self-aware, self-effacing film that doesn't care if you look at it as a parody or a legitimate artifact of its genre.

I saw this at the UA East 19th Street 6th, a rather small theater in the UA chain that was playing host to a rather...raucous congregation of Asian Christians. I ended up seeing the film twice, as at the 11:30 show, the sound got about twenty-seconds out of synch and the manager could not correct the problem. However, without any prompting, the manager--a very cheerful African American woman--offered us seating at the 12:40 show free of charge, and personally gave us all screening passes good all month for a free admittance. It's an example of a personal touch at what could have been a cold chain theater.

Of course, that meant I had to sit through two overlapping trailer packages, including two showings of Skyline, a film that apparently is sitting by its bedside praying that it will be accepted as Independence Day, that damnable Green Hornet film that looks worse and worse every time I have to endure Seth Rogan's line readings, that 'I still matter' bid of Oliver Stone's called Wall Street 2 (poor, poor Carey), and Tony Scott's Unstoppable, which is surprising not so much for the plot and its 'based on a true story' aspirations, but for it being a Tony Scott film that's buried in the middle of November.

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