Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Director's Special - 1 - Robert Rodriguez

What will we do if handed over a digicam, or at least an ordinary video recorder, at the age of seven, by our parents? I would definitely think that it's an oversized metal toy which does not have anything special to impress me, and will throw it repeatedly to the ground till I lay my hands on a new toy. But children like Robert Anthony Rodriguez had other plans. They just started to shoot movies using that 'oversized metal toy', and identified a career out of it!

Well, that was exactly how Robert Rodriguez's career began as a filmmaker. During his seventh year, when his father bought a video casette recorder (what is called as a VCR – you remember right? People from the seventies.. that was the only entertainment with respect to movies, as far as we were concerned during our childhood), Rodriguez started to use it. After a few years, when at highschool, due his prowess with the cam, he was asked by the authorities to film the football matches which happened during that particular year, and what Rodriguez did, absolutely enraged them to the core, and they fired him out of the job straightaway!

Yes. Till that time, filming a football match meant, recording the match ONLY, and nothing else. But what Rodriguez did was to record the ball flying high in the air, and the instant reactions of people seeing it! Typical cinema style! That cost him his job as a video recorder in the match, and he didn't worry at all. By this time, he was well aware so as to what will earn him his bread.

When he went to the College of Communication at Texas University to study filming, his marks were 'low', to their standards. Hence he was unable to join film lessons straightaway. But then, he found a way out to join the classes, by impressing the authorities. He discovered something which amused the lecturers and the students alike, which got him a seat at the college. Rodriguez invented a comic strip which was on the lines of a 'Charles Bukowsky' style, inventing characters based on his own life incidents. The leading character was a girl, which was based on his younger sister. That comics – 'Los Hooligans' (he later named his production company as 'Los Hooligans'), was a hit among the college people, and it ran for almost three years in the college magazine.

In the college, Rodriguez was making a number of short films. One day, he decided to participate in a local film making contest, where he made a comic movie about a girl getting repeatedly annoyed about her brother's hairdo, which absolutely looks like medusa's hair - a total mess! The movie was titled as 'Bedhead' , referring to the brother's hair which is a terrible mess. While getting teased by her brother, she tries to beat him and falls down, and gets hit in her head. In so doing, she suddenly picks up a telekinetic power which makes her extremely powerful. But, while avenging on her brother, she gets hit again in the head, and gets admitted in a hospital. There, she decides to use her power in a good manner, but at the same time, also decides to be a constant threat to her brother.

This movie garnered awards and prizes , which made him to finally choose his road . The road more traveled by a lot of veterans so far. With as little as 7000$, he made his first movie 'El Mariachi' - which was originally supposed to be a home video in Spanish, but went on to become a hit and was marketed as a feature film in Hollywood. The movie also garnered the audience award at the Sundance film festival - a film festival dedicated to the independent film makers. The founding chair person is Robert Redford whose 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid' was an inspiration for the inception of the film festival.

Robert Rodriguez followed his first hit with a few TV episodes of a series named Roadcrackers, and then released one of his signature movies - Desperado (one of my favorite movies)- which was a mixture of the latino style with explosive Hollywood action. It starred Antonio Benderas and Salma Hayek. It had the typical Rodriguez style of film making written all over it , with sudden cuts, close ups, funny dialogues, outright action, seductive females and a nice music (all these, a part of Quentin Tarentino films too).

The next film was 'From dusk till dawn', which starred George Clooney along with a geeky looking guy called Quentin Tarentino. In fact, it was Tarentino who wrote the script, and Rodriguez directed it. This movie 's first part will make you think that you are in to a psychotic chase drama, and the second part will make you to break the TV - it's a mixture of two bizarre sections coming together. The first time I saw this film, I enjoyed the first part thoroughly and was bracing myself for the second section,which turned bizarre and even a bit idiotic, totally making me to bite my pillow.

Between Desperado and From dusk till dawn, he directed an episode among the four episodes in the film, 'The four rooms' (The other three episodes were directed by Quentin Tarentino, Allison Anders & Alexandre Rockwell). It is a comical movie about four stories happening in a hotel, in four different rooms, where the assistant in the hotel (Tim Roth) witnesses all the four stories. Rodriguez directed the episode named 'Room 309 - the misbehavors', which starred (again) Antonio Benderas and Salma Hayek (as a girl dancing in the TV). The story is all about a couple leaving their two kids in the hands of the assistant, while they go out. Many comical incidents follow, which creates the whole episode as an interesting one to watch.

The next movie was 'Faculty', a science fiction thriller, which was not that successful. The movie following it, though, was a major success, which spawned two more sequels. It's 'Spy Kids', a thoroughly entertaining series of movies about two kids, whose parents are spies, and their adventures. The third part had Stallone as the bad guy, which was also a 3D movie.

Between spy kids 2 and 3, Rodriguez completed his 'El Mariachi' trilogy with 'Once upon a time in Mexico', which marked the return of the guy with the guitar. Antonio Benderas starred in this flick, with Salma Hayek. It starred Johnny Depp too. The movie was named so, as a tribute for Sergio Leone.

After the spy kids movies, Rodriguez returned to his familiar action packed foray with 'Sin city', originally a graphic novel series by Frank Miller, the famous storyteller. Since Rodriguez had a wide knowledge about the comics and stuff (as he himself had a successful comic strip to his name), he was able to convince Frank Miller, who was initially unwilling to give his comics rights to this movie. As a result, Frank Miller too co-directed the film which went on to become a huge hit.

The whole movie was a high quality digital film, shot entirely in rich color and later converted to black and white, using state of the art techniques. Although the entire movie was in black and white, selected things and effects were in color, giving the film a complete graphic novel effect. As usual, Quentin Tarentino guest directed a scene.

Sin city was followed by another movie for children, the adventures of sharkboy and lava girl, which was also a 3D movie. After this film, Rodriguez joined hands with his long time buddy Quentin Tarentino again, to direct a movie called Planet Terror, a part of the two part series Grindhouse. The movie Grindhouse contained two movies, Planet Terror and Death Proof, which was directed by Tarentino.

Robert Rodriguez is a man of multi talents. He can direct, write screenplays, compose music, edit, and can handle the camera very well. Infact, in all of his movies, in the titles, to denote his editing, it will be displayed as 'chopped by Robert Rodriguez'.

Currently, Rodriguez is filming the sequel to Sin City. No matter what kind of movie he is making, one thing is for sure. There will be absolute entertainment from Robert Rodriguez, and it will be one hell of a ride !!!

Here are a few of his movie trailers . .



kailash,hyderabad said...

Thank u for introducing a good director. My lot of favorite movies in this list (he directed). all that variety of movies directed by one person. vow !.

Desperado - Though it is a ordinary story we cant move aside. When I saw the movie I have feel little like comic particularly in bar scenes. After reading this I knew the reason.
In Desperado I like the first song very much which Antonia sing with guitar. It attracts beyond the language barrier.
again thank you.

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