Robert Rodriguez

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Sin City was a surprise back in 2005 in several ways, and the way director Robert Rodriguez stayed faithful to Frank Miller‘s comic was both ambitious and exciting. Its sequel, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, brings audiences back to that world nine years later. Whether people actually want to revisit the world of Sin City after all these years remains a question mark, but if they do show up they’ll find that Rodriguez has not only made his most entertaining movie in years but also a worthy followup to the first film. It certainly helps that co-directors Rodriguez and Miller have adapted the best book in the series. It’s a prequel to The Big Fat Kill from the first film. When Shellie (Brittany Murphy) mentions Dwight McCarthy’s (Clive Owen) “new face” in the first film she’s referring to the face replacement he had done because of the events in A Dame to Kill For. Dwight is now played by Josh Brolin, an actor whose hard jaw and presence is straight out of a comic book. This story shows his days as a private detective haunted by his past and “the monster” he can’t let out again. He’ll have to revisit some of those old violent tendencies, thanks to Ava Lord (Eva Green), an old flame and the goddess of Sin City. To survive the trouble she gets him in, Dwight enlists the help of Marv (Mickey Rourke), who has a much larger role this time around. Meanwhile, a young hotshot gambler, Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is having his life […]

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El Rey Network

There’s a beauty of convenience in modern cable TV. Sure, the average cable package contains roughly 659,000 channels, but that’s also more or less a guarantee that if you want to watch something, there’s a channel somewhere that carries it (and besides, you’ve got to pay for all 659,000 to get the one Orangutan Reality Network you’re actually interested in, so you might is well enjoy the excess). El Rey is one such niche network. Launched by Robert Rodriguez in December of last year, El Rey is basically a collection of shows and films given Rodriguez’ person “yes, this is cool” seal of approval. Or, at least it was last year. Now, a half a year or so into its youth, El Rey has begun the molting process, and is starting to look like a bona fide cable channel, picking up original series and adding new voices alongside Rodriguez to dole out the approvals of cool. One such new show would be Matador, which follows DEA agent Tony Bravo (Gabriel Luna), posing undercover as a pro soccer player to bust a team owner (Alfred Molina) who may or may not be some kind of large-scale supervillain. Rodriguez filmed the Matador finale last week, and I was there, to loiter around the set and learn the ins and outs of El Rey’s cable TV journey from Rodriguez, Luna, and Matador creator/executive producer Roberto Orci. And I will detail those ins and outs to you, in case you have the urge to […]

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Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Josh Brolin‘s performance in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For isn’t wildly dissimilar to his work in Men in Black III. They’re very different films and performances, of course, but both prequels feature Brolin inheriting a role from another actor. Brolin eerily embodied Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, while in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For he’s channeling Clive Owen’s work as Dwight McCarthy from the first movie. This is Dwight before he had to change his face, which, in case you haven’t read Frank Miller‘s comics, is why Owen isn’t back playing the character. Whether Josh Brolin studied Clive Owen’s performance never came up in our wide-ranging conversation with the actor, who’s clearly pleased with both the film and his performance. With the exception of Labor Day – a film I’ll readily go to bat for — it’s the first time since True Grit Brolin hasn’t had to carry a movie. Not because he isn’t the lead, but looking at Oldboy, Gangster Squad, and Men in Black III, the end products often weren’t on par with Brolin’s work in them. Thankfully, that’s not the case in this instance, nor should it be in the near-future. Brolin has Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice coming up, the Coen Brothers’ Hail, Caesar!, and Everest, a survival pic boasting an impressive cast. He’s also playing Thanos in the Marvel Universe. Brolin has a lot going on at the moment, but he took the time to speak with us at the junket for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

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Sin City A Dame to Kill For

Score one for equality! Well, kind of. Fresh out of Comic-Con comes a brand new red band trailer for Robert Rodriguez’ and Frank Miller‘s Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (does this call for a “DOTPOTA” style acronym? “FMSCADTKF”? sounds like a bad governmental agency), one that applies just a smidge of the same lascivious behavior normally heaped on the ladies of the franchise to one of its (new) leading men. That’s right, folks, we’ve still got tons of brazen babes bounding around (most of them on a literal stripper walk, because), but now we’ve also got Josh Brolin‘s bare ass to ogle. And, no, we still have zero idea what this film is about, at least going by the trailers alone, which seem to exist just to remind us that some dames are worth…wait for it…killing for. Let’s figure this thing out, okay? Back to Basin City, after the break:

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The Weinstein Company

If there’s anything that could so succinctly describe what’s going on in the trailer for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, it’s a couple lines uttered by two of the characters almost as a throwaway: “Looks like trouble.” “Looks like Christmas.” For those who were already fans of Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller‘s original offering, the return to the glossy black and white pages of the gritty world where the dead don’t stay buried and there’s a very fine line between good and bad will be a reason to celebrate. For others, it might take a little more than this trailer and a certain “controversial” poster featuring Eva Green to plant seats in the theater. The sequel brings back many of the haggard, weary faces we grew accustomed to in the first film, like Powers Boothe‘s Senator Roarke, Mickey Rourke‘s Marv and Bruce Willis‘ Hartigan, now deceased and stuck still roaming the streets of his godforsaken town looking for something to do. Kind and sweet (but not so innocent) Nancy (Jessica Alba) is still in the mix, as is Rosario Dawson‘s tough as nails Gail. While last time out the film was set up almost in vignettes, showing each character’s arc separately while loosely connecting them to the main story, it looks like the sequel will have a more concrete plot; the gang from the first film will be joined by a new cast — Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Ray Liotta, Lady Gaga, Jeremy Piven, Dennis Haysbert and Eva Green […]

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Robert Rodriguez making Sin City 2

In 2005 director Robert Rodriguez brought life to Frank Miller‘s Sin City in an unimaginable way. Literally adapting the style of that highly stylized series was a risky choice. Broad audiences hadn’t experienced a movie with such a heightened aesthetic to that degree yet, but it worked for both audiences and critics. A sequel was announced and then…it took longer to get made than it should have. But that long-awaited sequel finally comes out this summer in 3D with most of the original cast in place and a few welcomed additions. Another Rodriguez project returning is From Dusk Till Dawn. The proud Texas filmmaker now has his own network, El Rey, which kicks off with a serialization of his 1996 vampire film. The pilot is basically the film’s first 10 minutes stretched out to 40 minutes with a few tweaks. Rodriguez directed the first episode and he will continue to have a strong hand in the series, as well as anything else that shows on El Rey. Rodriguez discussed with us cinematic quality of today’s television, in addition to the recreating the world of Sin City for the upcoming sequel.

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Machete Kills didn’t exactly triumph at the box office. The film opened at #4 and was quickly beaten into submission by Gravity and roughly a dozen other films, eventually admitting defeat after recouping less than three quarters of its budget. A month after its release and the film has all but vanished from theaters. Conventional logic states that this is the end for dear old Machete (although for all we know, there may be endless direct-to-DVD sequels in his future). So as we marvel at how quickly the fake-Mexploitation-grindhouse craze has fizzled and died, take a look at what may be the single most enjoyable aspect of Machete Kills: the fake threequel trailer that ran before it.

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Bedhead 2

This is another edition of Short Starts, where we present a weekly short film(s) from the start of a filmmaker or actor’s career. It’s a sad day for Robert Rodriguez. His latest movie, Machete Kills, is a dud at the box office with his lowest wide-release opening of all time. Yes, even lower than Shorts. But if the Machete sequel is neither good nor popular, that doesn’t mean we can’t spend this weekend enjoying Rodriguez’s other work. Specifically, let’s go back to the beginning and check out his first film. No, not El Mariachi. Before even that landmark low-budget breakout, he made an 8-minute short while a student at the University of Texas called Bedhead. Made in 1990 with an $800 budget and employing his siblings as the cast and other relatives as the crew, Rodriguez co-wrote the script with brother David (also the title character) and friend Bryant Delafosse. He was his own DP, shooting on 16mm with a wind-up camera (and no synch sound), and his own editor, cutting on video, maybe even using the double-VCR system he’d been working with as a kid. He also animated the opening credits sequence. While El Mariachi is better known for being his Hollywood calling card, Rodriguez actually sent around both that and Bedhead, which had the esteem of winning awards at a number of film festivals (Carolina Film Festival, Third Coast Film Festival, Marin County Film and Video Festival and The University of Missouri Fine Arts Competition). And the combo […]

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Danny Trejo Sherrybaby

Our official review of Machete Kills is pretty negative. Rightfully so, it’s a major disappointment following the purposefully cheesy yet still politically relevant first film. This time it’s all just silly, kind of like an Austin Powers movie for the Latino audience instead of 13-year-old boys — though the 13-year-old boys may still be the best audience for this. I want to recommend it solely for Demian Bichir, though, because he is a pleasure to watch every second he’s on screen. Maybe it’s just how great he is relative to the rest of the cast and movie, but I’d give him another Oscar nomination for this. If you think that’s ridiculous, you haven’t seen the movie (because that is ridiculous). If you don’t see Machete Kills, no big deal, even if you won’t know what’s going on when Machete Kills Again… In Space arrives. This week’s gateway recommendations have nothing related to any spoilers in the movie. Most are just better films starring parts of the sequel’s ensemble. I also almost thought about including Star Wars, not because I think any of you haven’t seen it but because I think you’d want to clean yourself in the form of a re-watch after seeing all the bad references here. Seriously, even if we’d never had 35 years of parodies, copycats, fan films and other works derived from and informed by Star Wars, the allusions here would still feel stale. The following ten selections are worth checking out whether you bother with Machete […]

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Machete Kills

Editor’s note: Neil’s review of Machete Kills originally ran during this year’s Fantastic Fest, but we’re re-running it now as the film opens in theatrical release today. It feels like an odd tradition to have. Just about every other year, Fantastic Fest — the beloved pilgrimage of genre film fans to Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse — the opening night film is a complete dud. The first and most notable example of this came in 2009 when Gentlemen Broncos opened the festival, much to the confusion and displeasure of the always keen Fantastic Fest crowd. Following opening night, that year’s festival went on to produce memorable screenings of Antichrist, Fish Story, Zombieland, Gareth Evans’ debut Merantau and many others. It was a great year. The same came two years later when the festival opened with the overwhelmingly unlikable Human Centipede 2, only to yield the debuts of great flicks like You’re Next, Extraterrestrial, A Boy and His Samurai and the Oscar nominee Bullhead. It could be deduced, based on recent history, that the quality of the opening night film is inversely proportional to the quality of the rest of the Fantastic Fest line-up. With that in mind, 2013 has opened with Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills. By the logic expressed above, that means 2013 is on pace to be the best Fantastic Fest line-up yet.

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Machete Kills

Though there have been many trailers for Robert Rodriguez‘s Machete Kills leading up to its theatrical release next week, none are quite like this. The content is nothing new, but it’s framed in the most badass of fresh packages: in glorious, over-the-top, flaming 3D. You know the drill: Machete (Danny Trejo) has been hired by the President of the United States (Charlie Sheen/Carlos Estevez) to hunt down a madman in Mexico (Mel Gibson) who has plans to launch a missile into the White House. Along the way, he must band up with his fellow (sexy) assassins and do battle with countless (sexy) others. Blood, boobs, corny jokes, Lady Gaga(?), explosions, end film. But in 3D, Machete Kills is brand new again. Every slash of that machete, every explosion and splatter of gushing blood leaps off the trailer at you in a surprisingly seamless fashion. It’s as if all trailers are just like this, and hopefully they will be at some point. It’s just fun to watch. The brilliance of the 3D trailer is that the tease demands that you go see the movie in an actual theater to see more where that came from – well-played when we were all starting to get a tiny bit of Machete fatigue. Check out the insane trailer below to see what I’m yammering about:

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machete

Robert Rodriguez’s latest tribute to 70s B-cinema, Machete Kills, seems to be in the full court press phase of its marketing campaign, because just a few weeks out from its October 11 release date it has now released a new red band trailer that gets deep into all the over-the-top gore and purposeful sleaze that the film has to offer. And, from the looks of things, the movie gets real over-the-top, and super-sleazy. Fans of the first film might not want to give this latest ad a look though, as its purpose seems to be shocking anyone who might still be on the fence about the franchise into the theater. If you’re a Machete fan, chances are one of the things you enjoyed about the first go-around was all of the inventive, ludicrous methods that Danny Trejo’s Machete character concocted to kill people, and though this red band trailer is kind of a lot of gory fun, it also looks like the sort of thing that likely gives most of the best kills the movie has to offer away. Anyone who doesn’t like to be spoiled should move on, but for those of you who don’t mind, click away.

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machete iphone

No, Machete doesn’t have time to run a twitter account – he has orders from the President (played by some guy named Carlos Estevez) to head down to Mexico and stop a missile from hitting the White House. Good thing his iPhone is equipped with a smaller machete instead of a useless twitter app. Danny Trejo is back in Robert Rodriguez’s Machete Kills, and oh does he ever live up to that title. Now contracted by the government TO KILL, Machete has to stop south of the border villain Mel Gibson — who frankly looks like he’s having the time of his life — from succeeding in his dastardly ways. Though Machete’s got help from a lot of badass babes on his side, Gibson has a “super soldier” army to fight. Sofia Vergara is a standout as some kind of militant fembot, as well as Lady Gaga, who appears in part of the film disguised as Cuba Gooding Jr. Sidenote: How great would it be if we found out the real Cuba Gooding Jr. was just Lady Gaga in disguise this whole time? She would be the greatest actress of our lifetime.

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Two Scoops

Why Watch? With the help of his fans, Robert Rodriguez has created a short film that’s a giant ice cream cone filled with cheese. Lola and Lucia (Electra and Elise Avellan) aren’t from around here, but they run a dessert truck in a spot every Austinite should recognize. They also do super secret work, and their next assignment gets personal as they have to track down a monster inside an abandoned amusement park to save their father. Colorful and ridiculous, it looks a lot like Spy Kids right down to the low-budget CGI and jokes. Somewhere, Roger Corman is smiling.

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vergara guns

You’ve probably already got an idea in your head of what a sequel to Robert Rodriguez’s tribute to B-movies, Machete, is going to look like. You expect that unique-to-modern-cinema, handcrafted look that Rodriguez’s do-it-yourself strategy produces, you expect some hammy acting and over-the-top action scenarios, and you expect at least one closeup of Danny Trejo’s glorious, craggy face. So, seeing as everyone pretty much already knows what to expect from Machete Kills, and already has a strong idea of whether or not they’re interested in going to see it, what sales tactic could one use to catch potential audience members off guard with the trailer? This time around they seem to have decided to highlight just how absurdly eclectic the cast Rodriguez has put together is, mostly by having all of his actors do ridiculous things while their names flash across the screen. Click through to see who all he got. Oh yeah, and hopefully you speak Spanish.

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hunnam-shaved-head

What is Casting Couch? It’s having trouble finding casting news in a week where the entire film industry’s eyes are turned to Sundance, but it was able to dig up a couple nuggets anyway. Not a lot is known about Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming project, Crimson Peak, but what we do know is that it’s supposed to be some kind of ghost story, and del Toro is in the final stages of securing Emma Stone to star in it. And now there’s some new news about who the male lead is going to be. Variety is reporting that Charlie Hunnam, the Sons of Anarchy star who del Toro recently worked with on Pacific Rim, is now on board the movie as well. Seeing as details regarding the plot are being kept under wraps, there’s no way of really knowing what role Hunnam is going to play, but probably that doesn’t matter. Honestly, this one had everybody at Emma Stone.

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Ray Liotta

What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting column that lives on because Kate Erbland was goodly enough to step in and keep it going for a couple days. Let’s all thank Kate. Thanks, Kate. Usually when movies are already filmed it means that their casting process has been completed. Not so for a Robert Rodriguez film, though. This guy does pretty much every job on his sets and relies on studio assistance for very little, which allows him to play by his own rules and march to the beat of his own drummer. Sometimes that opportunity for flexibility can result in movies that feel like they’ve been slapped together by a madman, but sometimes it leads to a movie being able to make amazing last minute additions, like how his in-production Sin City sequel just added Ray Liotta, Juno Temple, and Jeremy Piven to its already-stacked cast. Indiewire isn’t sure which characters they’re going to be playing, but probably that doesn’t matter much. Liotta and Piven always just play themselves, and Temple, well…she can do anything she wants.

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IntroBehindScenes

It seems very rare that a behind-the-scenes documentary will earnestly try to show how the movie is made over trying to sensationalize the process. After all, who exactly is the demographic watching these things? Is it people who are genuinely interested in learning the techniques, or is it casual fans of a particular movie peeking behind the curtain? A good documentary caters to both – but above all should be honest in how the film was made. I’d like to explore some of the most earnest examples that I’ve come across. Either as stand alone films or DVD extras – these are documentaries that show, for better or for worse, the good and the bad aspects of the movie making process. This is stuff that no film goon should miss.

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Jack Reynor

What is Casting Couch? It’s a casting roundup that’s knee deep in nostalgia as it reports on movies based on comic books and toys from its childhood. Due to a little bit of inspiration from the Internet, Michael Bay gave Mark Wahlberg a pretty big part in his upcoming fourth Transformers movie. It’s always been understood that Wahlberg was playing a placeholder character though, who would pass the franchise off to a couple of young kids who would be pushed into the forefront as it went forward. Well, today Bay announced that he’s found the male half of this new duo. Apparently little known Irish actor Jack Reynor is his guy. Bay says that he saw Reynor in an Irish movie called What Richard Did, which a quick Googling tells me has nothing to do with acting opposite giant robots, so let’s all hope he knows what he’s talking about.

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What is Casting Couch? It’s the casting roundup that has news about Timothy Olyphant putting on cowboy boots again. Read on! Is Kristen Wiig going to be joining the cast of Anchorman: The Legend Continues? Maybe. The Wrap has a report that she’s being looked at to play the love interest (presumably replacing lamp) of Steve Carell’s dimwitted Brick Tamland in Paramount’s upcoming sequel. Of course, this one is far from starting filming (the script isn’t even done yet), and Kristen Wiig is being looked at for essentially every comedy that calls for a female part right now, so it’s hard to say if everyone’s schedules are going to synch up or not when all is said and done. Wiig getting thrown into the mix of the Anchorman crew does sound pretty dang promising though, doesn’t it? We’ll be watching this one for new developments very closely.

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