I remember, I remember
The night Grindhouse opened, I somehow lucked into sitting there at the Alamo Drafthouse, where the cups were special that night, matched the movie somehow, and the trailers, man: Hobo With a Shotgun, Thanksgiving, and Machete. Danny Trejo not just in a bad-ass role, but inhabiting that character. Explosions and blood all over the place. Robert Rodruguez taking El Mariachi and giving him a blade, not a pistol.
And now that trailer that couldn’t possibly be lived up, it’s been lived up to. And I’m seeing the movie about a week too late to get a review in anywhere. But, man. I mean, a triple decapitation before the title credits have even started? Steven Seagal dropping lines like “notoriously hard to kill?” Lindsay Lohan in a habit, a team of luchadores coming for Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodruguez taking no prisoners, Jeff Fahey looking (yes, Sawyner) like he just stepped out of a Burt Reynolds movie? Cheech fighting Tom Savini? Only thing even possibly missing is Mickey Rourke, I guess, but Don Johnson, he’s stepping in, covering for him. And DeNiro, I was honestly worried, knowing he was in this. Not because he’s not great—he’s DeNiro—but because this level of cartoon violence, it’s not where he usually plays. But play it he does, to the hilt, maybe not as wonderfully over-the-top as Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder, but, the politics he’s representing here, he’s all the more scary for keeping it closer to real. Which, yeah, he’s a caricature, but that caricature, man. Robert Rodriguez’s politics here, they’re obvious, and righteous, but what’s maybe not so obvious is that, specifically with the DeNiro character, he’s making an argument that goes beyond the border, that maybe suggests that we’re becoming the cartoon.
But there’s so much fun to distract you. All the lowriders hopping at gate, everybody dropping their dishtowels and shovels to join this fight, all these ploughshares becoming swords, it’s so enthematic, so, so—what it is, I think, it’s that Jim Croce song, “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” All these action movies, what they’re finally leaving you with is the message that, that guy over in the corner, not really bothering anybody, just asking to be left alone? Yeah. Might be a good idea to leave him alone, Hope. Or, Machete, he’s Jim Croce’s Slim, mixed with the Deathwish-era Charles Bronson and dropped into a hyperkinetic, cameo-rich action music video, one hardly concerned about ratings, and exists in some Dario Argento dimension where all the women are supermodels. Far and away the most satisfying thing I’ve seen on the big screen in some time, now. Highly recommended. Or, to say it cleaner: remember the first time you saw that “Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny”-video, and it felt so much like somebody had reached into the clay of your mind, your childhood, everything you cherish, and then shaped it into a perfect little stop-motion movie that somehow validated who you are? That’s Machete
My only regret about Machete, then? Aside from it not being twenty-two hours long? That I didn’t catch it at the Alamo. That I can’t go back and do that. However, if we’re extremely lucky, maybe this fake-trailer-to-feature trend will catch on (like with Hobo), and we’ll get to see the set-ups for all those excellent kills in Thanksgiving. Then, just double-feature it with this, let Tarrantino introduce it, and that’s officially the best movie night
6 september 2010
*And, I’d maybe be remiss if I didn’t note how lucky it is for my next novel, It Came From Del Rio—which I can’t show the cover of yet—that Machete’s hitting when it’s hitting. It’s border crossings, it’s deals gone bad, it’s fathers and daughters, it’s gore and Austin and crowds.