Tuesday, July 12, 2022

El Mariachi

Is this my first film from Mexico? I almost think it is but with my shot memory who knows.

I'm not entirely sure why this movie and it's sequels under the title of The Mexico Trilogy grabbed my attention for reviews, but I have to say I'm super happy to have seen this movie. I've heard bits and pieces about it but had no inkling of what I was getting into. I knew this was Robert Rodriguez's directorial debut, shot on a shockingly minimal budget of $7,000, and the process of making the movie was covered in the autobiography Rebel Without A Crew, which I really need to get my hands on even more so now. The plot is pretty simple, with a wandering mariachi player coming to the town of Acuna and is mistaken for the enemy of the crime boss of the town, with him being hunted down by gunmen and desperately trying to stay low. It's a simple yet effective story, with good acting, and an interesting filmmaking style that I can't quite say I've seen the likes of before. Shot on 16mm film but transferred to video is unheard of actually in my world, and it has that film grain yet still retains the fuzzy resolution of a video camera which is pretty neat to see. The editing is damn near typical of a bad movie, lots of jump cuts, quick alternations of angles, examples of something most common audience members would find shoddy or disorientating but truthfully it's part of the charm of the movie. It uses the editing for comedic effect which I found to work greatly, it may be over the top but I am anything but subtle in life and have a great admiration for dramatic flair, and the stylistic choice never fades or changes so it was clearly intentional. I happened to get all 3 of these movies on a single DVD pack, with the express purpose of seeing it in it's native spanish language and while I have only the slimmest modicrum of knowledge of that language I thought the performances were pretty dang solid. Carlos Gallardo is a very fine lead, able to convey that innocent man stumbling into a real shit storm with ease and has charm to go around. Consuelo Gomez is a semi-romantic interest but she's fun and needless to say incredibly beautiful, and even though she turns up later on in the movie still does great work. Peter Marquardt is a good albeit basic villain, and I was honestly shocked to hear that he was actually speaking spanish and was not in fact dubbed, I was even more surprised to find out he wasn't fluent in the language cause it sure as hell fooled me I mean he sounds perfectly natural. The action bits were good, no high octane explosions or more blood packs than you can shake a stick at, but considering the whole production aspect it keeps tension very nicely and is given just enough. I mean the movie is not even 90 minutes long, but don't let that fool you, it knows how to linger on a moment and use it's time wisely. You can tell the music score was most likely done with an electronic keyboard but I'd be lying my ass off if I said it wasn't catchy, and the brief instances of hearing the mariachi play are really really nice to listen to and I enjoyed it greatly. It certainly leaves the door open for a continuation but I haven't a clue how or where this could go from here, which makes me even more excited to review Desperado tomorrow. I give this movie 3.5 stars, 7.5/10, I have no idea how this movie got ample attention and the reputation it has but man am I happy it exists. Onwards to tomorrow!

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