Salma Hayek

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

Year: 2003
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie made it into the collection by way of the “Mexican Trilogy” pack that came out with its counterparts El Mariachi and DesperadoI am a huge fan of Robert Rodriguez and loved his first two films when I was younger. As I have gotten older my love of exaggerated action movies has faded and truthfully I found this film a bit disappointing when it came out. I was in college at the time and I was really excited to see this franchise return to the big screen. The movie fits in with the trilogy really well but I have never found it overly impressive.

I appreciate the style of Robert Rodriguez and his efforts to make incredibly badass Mexican heroes. I grew up watching and loving action movies. When I was younger, exaggerated action only fueled my adolescent imagination and El Mariachi and Desperado were two I specifically got into. Robert Rodriguez, along with others like Renny Harlin and John Woo, really had a knack for these kinds of movies. Now that I’m older though I’m not so into them. If it was a film I fell in love with as a kid then I still get into it but when it comes to something new it just seems silly to me.

This movie came out right around the time that I could just no longer tolerate such films and even it’s connection to two others I loved couldn’t get me on board with it. I think there is plenty to like in this movie and it is cool as only a Robert Rodriguez film can be but it’s just not one I’m interested in anymore.

Johnny Depp does his best to be super cool in this movie and he has his moment in the end when trying to take on the bad guys in a gun fight with no eyes. I think the movie centers around his character far too much though. The Mariachi, “El” that is, just isn’t in this movie enough and when he is he is just far too supernatural. When this movie came out Johnny Depp was still the cool guy for my generation. The same year this came out he was also in Pirates of the Caribbean and I have never felt he was the same since. Since playing Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp has been an agent of Disney and lost the cool guy persona my generation came to love. Gone were the movies like Blow and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, to be replaced by a series of films in which he seemed to wear progressively more and more make-up. A trend that continues in his career and marriage with Disney. He was still cool in this movie but I have never been a huge fan of his portrayal of this overly cheesy and catty CIA operative.

There isn’t enough of Salma Hayek here either and when she is it’s a bit too exaggerated. Now all can be forgiven in the face of such a flawless beauty but there is just not enough of her in it. This movie isn’t lacking in cast at all and in fact I think it is the saving grace of the film. I may have outgrown this type of movie but I can still appreciate it for what it is. Rodriguez never fails to get a terrific cast together. In this movie are many of his regulars such as Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Julio Oscar Mechoso among others. Rodriguez takes a lot of pride in his heritage and I admire his loyalty to it when casting films.

Antonio Banderas is as cool as ever in the hero role. A bit too supernatural this time around but it is a role he pulls off well. As I said earlier though, there isn’t enough of him in this movie as too much of the film focuses on Depp’s character and near the end too much screen time is dedicated to the other mariachis. Why try to make Enrique Iglesias into a badass when he is only going to take screen time away from a guy like Banderas? I like Mickey Rourke and Willem Dafoe in this movie. I have always been a fan of Dafoe. He was everywhere when this movie came out if that offers any explanation as to how he got this role and it didn’t go to an actual Latino actor. Eva Mendes is flawlessly beautiful but has never really been able to rise to any big time roles.

This movie is what it is. It’s an overloaded action movie that will suffice if that is what you are in the mood for. There are better movies for the occasion but you could do worse by not giving this one a chance. It has plenty of moments to appreciate and keep you interested. I don’t know this this movie is really worth your time but if you are a fan of the series it is still a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Orange Country (2002)

 

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From Dusk Till Dawn

Year: 1996
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Kurtzman (story) Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t know that I have ever watched any other film that does a 180 quite like this one.  This movie offers one of the most dramatic changes in direction that I have ever seen in any movie but I think that is part of what makes it memorable.  For the first half of the movie there is a completely different tone to it and absolutely no hint of what is to come.  Suddenly, seriously out of nowhere, it becomes a movie about vampires.  It’s cool in this case though because it was before vampires would completely consume our culture and wear out their welcome. I have never been a fan of vampires that turn into creepy ass monsters but these vampires aren’t supposed to be cool they are supposed to be scary, or at the very least just silly. This isn’t my favorite film from either of the filmmakers but I think it has many elements that make it a worthy film.

One of the things I think makes this film most significant was that it advanced the career of Robert Rodriguez.  It was his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino and it would go on to start a franchise and acquire a large cult following. I am a big fan of any time Tarantino and Rodriguez collaborate but I actually think Rodriguez is the better of the pair, not including Inglourious Basterds which was phenomenal. I have never understood why Tarantino has insisted on acting in many of those collaborations but he isn’t bad in this one.  I think he is well suited for the role of a hot headed pervert as it happens though so it works out really well in this case. Rodriguez is ever the king of cool and can always deliver on exciting action so his movies are always great.

It’s not often that I admit this but every so often George Clooney plays a part that is really cool.  I normally cannot stand Clooney but he is pretty badass in this movie, and it’s pre-Batman and Robin so I suppose that makes it OK. There were five other actors approached to play his part before he was offered the role though.  Michael Madsen, John Travolta, Christopher Walkin, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Roth all had scheduling conflicts and ultimately Clooney was approached and accepted.  I think he did a good job; he played a really cool bad guy.  I have always been a big fan of Juliette Lewis, she has a really interesting story and I wish she was in more movies currently.  She doesn’t do anything special in this movie but plays her part well enough.  Salma Hayek is sexy as only Salma Hayek can be and I remember hating the filmmakers briefly for making her so ugly all of a sudden and interrupting her strip tease. I think Harvey Keitel is awful in this movie but I normally like him a lot. I don’t think he was right for the role at all. This movie has several Rodriguez regulars as well playing smaller roles such as Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Tom Savini.

This was a really cool movie that all of a sudden took a nose dive and got really silly.  I think that this is these two guys (Tarantino and Rodriguez) just having a good time and doing something they think is fun.  Watching it this time I felt stupid having told Amber to pay attention to it.  There seems to be no end to the silliness at certain times such as when the vampire band is playing instruments made of body parts and people eventually just start exploding from gunshot wounds.  Despite all that I still see something in this movie that makes it worth the time to watch it.  You would probably be taking a gamble if you chose this to watch one evening but there is plenty of potential so you might like it too, it is worth a shot.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What the heck did Ryan just make me watch? I have to admit that I like both Tarantino and Rodriguez. They are both very talented writers and movie makers. Having said that (my co-workers would kill me for saying that), I am not a fan of this movie. The dramatic change in story line is ridiculous. Everyone I talked to about this movie all seemed to love it and think that I was crazy for not finding it incredibly interesting. I tried to put myself back in time to when this movie came out, because then I am sure the vampire craze wasn’t so prevalent. Maybe I should give the movie another chance someday before really bashing it. If you are in to strange movies that have variable storylines this is your movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Full Metal Jacket (1987) 

Desperado

Year: 1995
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

What a cool action movie, Robert Rodriguez is really good at these shoot em up films.  This movie made a big splash in 1995. It not only ushered Antonio Banderas into the spotlight but it also introduced us all to Rodriguez and Salma Hayek as well. It’s really violent and really exciting with non-stop gun fighting as the mysterious musician kills his way to the top of the drug cartel.   This is the second movie in the Robert Rodriguez “Mexico Trilogy,” the sequel to his 1992 independent film El Mariachi.

Rodriguez has a lot of pride in his nationality, it is more than obvious in all his films.  Rodriguez usually writes his action stars as strong and powerful Mexican heroes. We see this not only in the Mariachi films but also in Machete and Planet Terror. Antonio Banderas plays that part in this film and does it very well.  He looks good and he shoots the hell out of everyone. Has there ever been a woman more beautiful that Salma Hayek?  This was her first American movie and her career easily took off afterwards because she is just so smoking hot.  Joaquim de Almeida is great as the bad guy, a role he usually plays well. Rodriguez favorites Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo both have parts.  I am a really big fan of Danny Trejo and have liked him in nearly everything I have seen him in.  Steve Buscemi and Quentin Tarantino also bring a lot to the film with their parts.  I don’t think Tarantino is worth much in his attempts to be an actor but I think he does do a good job in this movie.  Buscemi as usual is great, his presence instantly makes any movie better.

This movie is simple but it is a cool film that is a lot of fun to watch.  It didn’t and wouldn’t win any awards but I think it is worth your time nonetheless.  Like I have said before, sometimes we all need a good mindless action flick to turn our brains off with from time to time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I usually give the action movies Ryan makes me watch a chance, but usually there is something I can find entertaining in them.  This movie doesn’t have much that appeals to me, it obviously wasn’t made for women. I like Salma Hayek but in this movie she is only eye candy for the men.  This movie was made for men and I sympathize with any other women who are forced by their husbands to sit through it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Devil’s Advocate (1997)