Robert Rodriguez Movies

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Films Directed by Robert Rodriguez

A master of making movies on a low budget, Robert Rodriguez has been aided by the fact that he can direct, write, edit, score, and perform the duties of the cinematographer. Since he exploded onto the scene with 1992’s Mariachi, he’s been turning out a playful selection of films that appeal to those with a love for horror, sci-fi, and action. No matter what you might think of the finished product, Robert Rodriguez movies can never be accused of being boring.

For those of you who like to cook or aspire to make your own movies, be sure to check out Rodriguez’s DVD releases. As part of the bonus features on select titles, he presents segments known as the “10 Minute Film School” and “10 Minute Cooking School.” The former allows Rodriguez to share many of the money-saving tricks he’s picked up over the years, while the latter will enable you to make dishes such as barbecue, Puerco Pilbil (as seen in Once Upon a Time in Mexico), and breakfast tacos.

Robert Rodriguez Movies

The man behind almost all Robert Rodriguez movies.

While I don’t consider him as gifted a filmmaker as pal Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez does have a few advantages over the geeky director with the giant forehead. First, his screenplays move the narrative along without getting bogged down in pop culture tangents, something that often causes a Tarantino script to soar or plummet. Second, he doesn’t insist on trying his hand at acting, a hobby that Tarantino should’ve dropped long ago.

Another major advantage Rodriguez has is his taste in feminine beauty. While Tarantino indulges his foot fetish with close-ups of Uma Thurman’s crooked toes, Rodriguez has introduced American audiences to the magnificent breasts of Salma Hayek, dressed Jessica Alba in chaps, and made every man’s jaw hit the floor when Carla Gugino showed off her awesome body in Sin City. Mr. Rodriguez, I salute you!

The following list discusses the Robert Rodriguez movies I’ve watched, as well as a few of his films that I plan on skipping perpetually. If the Texas-born director with the black cowboy hat has been flying under your radar all these years, now’s the time to sample some Mariachi-style filmmaking.

Robert Rodriguez Movies I’ve Seen

I’ve seen a lot of Robert Rodriguez movies over the years. These include:

El Mariachi (1992) – After hearing all the buzz about this low-budget film reportedly shot for less than $25,000, I went out and rented it on VHS (hey, it was the early ‘90s). I remember being impressed, and Rodriguez’s signature style was visible even back then. While it’s nowhere as good as the two sequels, it does show what an aspiring and creative filmmaker can do if he sets his mind to it.

Robert Rodriguez Movies - Desperado

Robert Rodriguez Movies - Desperado

Desperado (1995) – This sequel to El Mariachi ups the sex, violence, and production values. Banderas is ultra-cool as the wounded musician looking to get revenge against a brutal drug lord, and Salma Hayek has one of the most eye-popping debuts in motion picture history. With romance, action, and comedy, Desperado has something to keep everyone entertained (unless, of course, they’re a prude).

Four Rooms (1995) – An uneven comedy anthology about the goings-on in an L.A. hotel on New Year’s Eve. Rodriguez’s entry is the best of the bunch, as a pair of miscreant children wreak havoc on the poor bellhop played by Tim Roth. Rodriguez’s sister plays the dead hooker who’s found between under the mattress. Antonio Banderas and his outrageous moustache co-star.

From Dusk till Dawn (1996) – The first half of the film deals with a pair of sibling outlaws (George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) trying to get to Mexico after kidnapping the family of a pastor (Harvey Keitel) who’s lost his faith. The second half is set in a Mexican bar named the Titty Twister, where all the employees are actually blood-sucking vampires. Tarantino wrote the script, so early scenes concentrating on characterization are especially strong. The latter half has its moments, though, including Salma Hayek dancing with a python and Fred Williamson delivering an over-the-top speech about his days in Vietnam.

The Faculty (1998) – When aliens start taking over the bodies of high school kids and faculty members, it’s up to a group of students to halt their rampage. The cast of future stars includes Josh Hartnett, Elijah Wood, Famke Janssen, Usher Raymond, Jordana Brewster, and John Stewart. It’s not a classic of the genre, but you’ll have a good time in-between the opening and closing credits.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) – Rodriguez wraps up his Mariachi trilogy with this sequel that proves inferior to Desperado. The backstory about what happened to Salma Hayek’s character is needlessly convoluted, and a few too many plotlines are introduced. But Johnny Depp hauls the movie from the ledge with his portrayal of Agent Sands, a shady CIA man trying to engineer a government coup. Obsessed with a particular Mexican dish and later blinded, he manages to dominate every scene he’s in. While that’s great for Depp fans, it makes Banderas’s protagonist seem unnecessary.

Sin City (2005) – Frank Miller’s tales of crime and corruption are brought to the big screen, and Rodriguez showed off the potential of digital filmmaking by creating much of the cityscape in post-production. The dialogue drips with hard-boiled clichés, the women smolder in their barely-there attire, and the starpower includes Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Jessica Alba, and Rosario Dawson. A perfect melding of comic book culture and film noir.

Planet Terror - Another Robert Rodriquez Film

Planet Terror - Another Robert Rodriquez Film

Planet Terror (2007) – For the Grindhouse movie, Tarantino directed Death Proof and Rodriguez filmed Planet Terror. The latter is the better of the two, as it captures the low-budget charm of grindhouse cinema without boring us to death by putting a bunch of chicks around a table and having them talk about falling into holes. It was also refreshing to see guys like Michael Biehn and Jeff Fahey getting work. If you enjoy zombie movies made to look like they were filmed on a shoestring budget, be sure to give Planet Terror a try.

Machete (2010) – It was too preachy, but I couldn’t pass up a film that featured Danny Trejo, Don Johnson, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Tom Savini, Robert De Niro, and Michelle Rodriguez (wearing an eyepatch and showing off the best teeth in Hollywood). While the overall product was a letdown, it was fun to watch the film unfold and speculate on what was going to happen next. Of course, when a woman pulls a cell phone out of her vagina in the film’s first 10 minutes, that’s going to be a hard one to top.

Robert Rodriguez Movies I’ll Skip

While I’ve enjoyed a number of Robert Rodriguez movies, there are some that I have no plans to watch. These include:

The Spy Kids Franchise (2001, 2002, 2003, 2011) – Carla Gugino and Antonio Banderas seem like boring parents, but they’re actually a couple of spies. When they get kidnapped in the first film, their precocious kids must spring into action. I’m guessing that subsequent find increasingly unlikely ways to get the kids involved in the action.

I’m sure this long-running series is just fine if you’re a tween or teen, but I’m rapidly approaching the point in my life where I’ll need to get a yearly prostate exam. That means I’m too damn old for such youthful misadventures, and the fact that I don’t have any kids yet cinches it.

The little girl from the series (Alexa Vega) grew up to be pretty hot, though.

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3D (2005) – A couple of superpowered kids team up to save the day. See the Spy Kids entry for the reasons why I skipped this film. Plus, 3D sucks.

Shorts (2009) – A bunch of pre-teens come into possession of a rock that makes wishes come true. Hijinks ensue. Thanks, but no thanks.

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Robert Rodriguez movies make money at the box office, and those that don’t can still be expected to recoup their costs on the home video market. With a genuine love for cinema (both good and bad), and a keen sense of how to make a profit, expect Rodriguez to be in the filmmaking game for as long as he wants. I just hope the kiddie films start to diminish in the coming years.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 at 12:53 pm and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Robert Rodriguez Movies”

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September 26, 2011

Durham

As you can imagine, I love me some Robert Rodriguez flicks. And as a father, I have to say that I don’t mind his kid movies. Shorts was pretty entertaining and even though they are pretty formulaic, his Spy Kids franchise is good just to see what actors will sign up to work with him.

I laughed out loud when I saw Danny Trejo in a brief cameo flying through the air while dressed in a lab coat in the latest Spy Kids title.

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