Robert Rodriguez

1991
Bedhead 60
[ An amusing B&W short about a young girl who’s always at odds with her older brother. When a hard hit on the head gives her telekinetic powers, she uses them to get back at him and his damn “bed-head”! Written, directed, shot, edited and scored by Rodriguex, with his siblings playing all the characters, this is a cute little home movie as well as a teaser for all the future RR trademarks: daredevil camerawork, irreverent humor and boundless energy. ]

1993
El Mariachi 69
[ This is basically “A Fistful of Dollars” with machine guns, with Carlos Gallardo starring as a down-on-his-luck Mariachi With No Name who finds himself stuck in the middle of an all-out gang war in Mexico. With only 7000$ and 14 days to shoot, Rodriguez put together a fast and furious urban Western, with unexpected poetically brutal dream sequences and genuinely exciting chases and shoot-outs. Rodriguez is a virtuoso with the camera and he knows how to edit and score action for maximum effect, and this cheap little flick in Spanish is as good as a lot of expensive Hollywood blockbusters. ]

1995
Desperado 67
[ review ]

The Misbehavers 65
( Rodriguez’ contribution to Four Rooms)
[ Bellhop Ted has to baby-sit the children of a Latino macho stud and his charming wife. The thing is, those kids are trouble-makers and let’s just say that all hell breaks loose. This is hilarious, fast-paced and totally entertaining. Tim Roth is at his best, Antonio Banderas is extremely cool as the father and we get to see Salma Hayek dancing in a leopard bikini! This is like a Looney Tunes cartoon brought to life. ]

1996
From Dusk Till Dawn 91
[ review ]

1998
The Faculty 56
[ review ]

2001
Spy Kids 66
[ review ]

2002
Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams 63
[ A few minutes into this second film of the all-ages franchise I thought, whoa, this looks damn cool for a kiddie flick! Well of course it does, it’s directed by Rodriguez, he who can craft wonders with little money and almost all by himself! Think about it, his film is as impressive and action-packed as George Lucas’ “Attack of the Clones” yet it cost five times less! “Spy Kids 2” is all over the place and the plot makes absolutely no sense, multiplying characters, extravagant locations and goofy creatures into one big colorful mess, but it’s all in harmless fun and in the midst of all the craziness, Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara manage to hold the film together as the adorably badass Carmen and Juni. ]

2003
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over 34
[ review ]

Once Upon a Time in Mexico 71
[ review ]

2005
Frank Miller’s Sin City 92
[ review ]

The Adventures of Shark Boy & Lava Girl in 3-D
[ I reckon the title says it all. Maybe I’ll check it out on DVD. Or not. ]

2007
Planet Terror 49
[ review ]

2009
Shorts
[ Another one for the kids. Maybe I’ll check it out on DVD. Or not. ]

2010
Machete 72
[ review ]

2011
Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D
[ Yet another one for the kids. Maybe I’ll check it out on DVD. Or not. ]

2013
Machete Kills 65
[ Awful writing (intentionally so, but still), cheap production values and cartoonish violence make this sequel feel like an Asylum production. Except that there are often flashes of awesome visuals and badass action that remind us that Robert Rodriguez once gave us good/great movies like “El Mariachi”, “Desperado”, “From Dusk Till Dawn” and whatnot. And how about that all-star cast! There’s of course Danny Trejo as Machete and Michelle Rodriguez as Luz, plus the hilarious Mel Gibson in the James Bond supervillain role, Carlos Estevez (ha!) as the President, Amber Heard as Miss San Antonio, Demián Bichir as the head of a cartel, Sofía Vergara as a brothel owner, and perhaps most entertainingly, (SPOILER) Walton Goggins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Lady Gaga and Antonio Banderas as El Chameleón. It’s all a lot of over-the-top nonsense, but it reaches heights of silliness that ultimately won me over. I mean, come on: Mel Gibson in a cape ranting and shooting a ray gun? ]

2014
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For 58
[ Back in 2005, I loved the bloody hell out of “Frank Miller’s Sin City”, which was no less than my favorite Robert Rodriguez movie at the time. Not that I was ever the biggest RR fan… In the past decade, in particular, I’ve skipped as many of his films as I’ve seen. And when he finally made a “Sin City” sequel/prequel, I didn’t run out to see it, I waited until it hit VOD. So what did I think? Well, I certainly didn’t love the bloody hell out of “Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and it’s certainly not my favorite or even second favorite Robert Rodriguez movie, even though on the surface, it’s quite similar to the original. Same kind of B&W cinematography with bursts of color, hard-boiled narration, tough guys, femmes fatales, tales of sex and violence… So what’s missing? For one, there’s the novelty factor. The first “Sin City” was unlike anything I’d seen before, a 21st century film noir by the way of a graphic novel brought to life. Whereas “A Dame to Kill For” is, well, more of the same. Then again, maybe it isn’t, not quite. There’s something kinda cartoonish about this new installment, almost like it’s a parody of itself. That being said, some of it still works. I liked seeing Mickey Rourke again as Marv, I liked Josh Brolin as the old, pre-surgery Dwight, I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt as newcomer Johnny… And how about those dames! Eva Green, Rosario Dawson, Julia Garner, Juno Temple… My least favorite character, maybe surprisingly, is Jessica Alba as Nancy, a.k.a. the stripper who never shows the goods. I was also bothered with Jamie Chung and Dennis Haysbert taking over as Miho and Manute, even though there were good reasons for the roles being recast (Devon Aoki was pregnant, Michael Clarke Duncan died). But those are details, next to the unfortunate fact that a lot of the stories being told feel empty and pointless, particularly the one revolving around Alba and the ghost of Bruce Willis and the one where Gordon-Levitt is the protagonist, both of which are, tellingly, not based on Frank Miller’s classic graphic novels but newly written for the screen. The Josh Brolin/Eva Green part, an adaptation of the actual “A Dame to Kill For” book, is by far the best thing in this uneven film. ]