Sunday, January 16

Pulling Rabbits: On Robert Rodriguez

Most filmmakers would do fine without movies. They make art in the same way a novelist or a playwright make art: imagining something beautiful, and then expressing that through their medium of choice. If they wouldn't have film, they would just express themselves in another artform. But there is also a group of filmmakers that do things a little more different. Their art isn't told by way of the movie. Their art is the movie. People like Godard and Riami work like this, creating films that  simply revel in the fact that they are films. But the person who has used this ethos more then anyone is Robert Rodriguez.

Rodriguez started out, much like his good friend Quentin Tarantino, as a massive filmnerd. His dad bought him a camera when he was 7, and he never stopped making movies after that. When he was 24, he scraped together 7000 dollars and made El Mariachi. He let his friends do the acting, and basically did everything else himself: writing, directing, filming, and editing. The fact that the movie got made is impressive enough all by itself, but the fact that is was well-received was even more astounding. To put it in perspective: Clerks was made on over three times as much budget, and that movie didn't contain a single action scene.

This man had sex with Rose McGowan and is
therefore infinitely cooler then you

Rodriguez work has been hit-or-miss since then, containing greats such as Once Upon a Time in Mexico and shitstains such as From Dusk till Dawn. But the thing that never changed throughout his career is that he steadfastly refused to grow up. He still stands behind the camera with the same enthusiasm of the 13-year old boy who sneaked out to watch crappy scifi movies at the drive-in. You might call his work immature, but it also has a sort of wide-eyed wonder to it which is impossible to resist. Just watch the opening credits from Once Upon a Time in Mexico:

Not a damn thing happens here. But what makes it such a blast to watch is its utter devotion to the possibilities of film. There are crane shots, shadowplay, jump cuts, weird transitions... every tool from the filmmakers box. Rodriguez is taking full advantage of every possibility he has, not so much to bring across a message, but to bring across his love for pure film. Watching his work brings back the eternal 15-year old in everyone of us, and with that he has found himself a nobler cause then many a filmmaker.


I have nothing to say about this song. Just listen to it.

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