If it's crap ... We'll tell you
CATFISH (Blu-Ray and DVD)
One of the big disagreements on Spill in 2010 was between Korey and myself on this indie 'documentary'. Not so much about what everyone else was talking about (whether or not it was real or fake) but whether it mattered either way. If nothing else, "Catfish" is a film calculated to toy with controversy for an internet age. A New York photographer discovers a child prodigy artist on the internet and becomes friends with her, and later with the rest of her family and her attractive sister Megan, with whom he begins a romantic online flirtation with. As things continue (and as his friends film it, probably the #1 reason people believe this can't be for real...why would they when there was no reason to suspect perfidy?) he eventually discovers that the Megan and her family members seem to be lying about a rather sizable quantity of things. So hey: roadtrip. The thing is, these guys are pretty much a bunch of dicks about the whole thing, only taking on a quality of empathy at all when they discover how pathetic the truth behind this situation actually is. And the people on the other side of the internet? Well, the web is full of them. Call me cold, but I didn't feel anything for them but the urge to call the police, before they figure out how to start pulling criminal cons online to go with their already well developed personal pathologies. Not so much fascinating, as facile, I've known too many folks just like both the filmmakers and the film's ultimate subject and I've learned to stay far, far away from both types.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Catfish [Blu-ray]
EL MARIACHI/DESPERADO (Blu-Ray)
As much as you've all probably gotten used to hearing the Spill crew talk smack about Robert Rodriguez and his overblown, schlocky, action and horror films, I'll always have a weak spot for his first two movies, the gloriously violent "El Mariachi" and its sequel, "Desperado", which at the time of release, were a revelation, a Spanish take on John Woo's 'bullet ballet' stylistics at a time when we weren't all sick to death from every other action film coming out copping from that look. "El Mariachi" was made quite famous for being as good as it was, (and it really is) considering it was only made for 7 grand, with its hugely mythic story about a mariachi who ends up in a one-man war with a drug lord, a tragic love, and lots of stuff blowing the fuck up. The sequel injects some Hollywood bucks and stars into the formula, with Latino heartthrob Antonio Banderas picking up the weapon-filled guitar case, still searching for revenge for his lover's death, and introducing the world to the ample charms of Salma Hayek, who would make me forget all about an ex-lover in a hot minute. I wasn't as big a fan of the final chapter in the story, "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", which despite having a cool new character that Johnny Depp played, was needlessly and ridiculously complicated, and reduced the Mariachi to a minor character, but it too is now available on Blu-Ray separately from the first two, which is just as well, as most fans I know were just as happy only owning those. These new editions add in an odd feature that lets you edit the film yourself and make your own cuts of it, along with the ported over stuff from the last DVD release.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY El Mariachi / Desperado (Double Feature) [Blu-ray]
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Once Upon a Time in Mexico [Blu-ray]
MACHETE (Blu-Ray and DVD)
But here we are all these years later and Robert Rodriguez has found himself so firmly entrenched in the worship of camp, it seems he can't tell the difference between when a film is entertainingly bad or just plain bad anymore. Case in point is "Machete" which veers back and forth between the two, but what do you expect from a movie expanded from a fake trailer made for the "Grindhouse" double feature from 2007 (which was, admittedly, the best part of it)? I will admit to being happy as a clam to see the always great Danny Trejo get a chance to play the leading man, as the titular illegal immigrant folk hero 'Machete', and he's clearly having a great time doing it. After a botched assault on a drug lord in Mexico (played for some reason by Steven Seagal) that got his wife and child killed, Machete has become a nomadic day laborer in Texas. He encounters a shady business man (Jeff Fahey) who offers, nay insists, that he take money to assassinate a local anti-immigration politician (Robert De Niro, who has gotten sadly comfortable with slumming it lately). Of course, it's all a set-up and soon Machete is a wanted fugitive. But once he teams up with a NSA agent (Jessica Alba), a revolutionary (Michelle Rodriguez), and his priest brother (Cheech Marin), the revenge begins apace, big, silly, bloody, and more fun than not. The problem for me was how long it took to get there. So firmly does "Machete" have its tongue in cheek, that it's incapable of seeing that it's not nearly as cute as it thinks it is. Intentionally making a 'good-bad' film has never been as simple a proposition for those who try to do it as they seem to want for it to be. "Machete" has quite a few good moments, but it needs to take itself at least a bit more seriously, and put a bit more work in, for me to be able to do the same. There's really not much to recommend added on the blu-ray, certainly not the 'audience reaction track'...I mean, do we really need too add in audio of an audience who won't shut up? Isn't this why we watch these at home instead?
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Machete [Blu-ray]