More Films to See Before You Die: #100 Desperado

Desperado (1995)

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Steve Buscemi and Joachim de Almeida

Synopsis: A man (Steve Buscemi) walks into a bar in Mexico and begins telling the bartender of how he witnessed a massacre at another bar by a Mariachi (Antonio Banderas) with a guitar case full of guns. The bartender doesn’t become interested in the mans story until he hears that the man was looking for Bucho (Joachim de Almeida) a local gangster and drug lord who is responsible for the death of his lover. It isn’t long before El Mariachi visits the bar looking for Bucho and all hell breaks loose. El is wounded in the battle and takes refuge with Carolina (Salma Hayek) the local bookstore owner. When El finds out that Carolina works as a courier for Bucho he uses this as a way to get closer to Bucho. This leads to a final confrontation with Bucho and a person from El’s past that he never would have expected.

Trivia: This film cost approximately $7 million to make, 1000 times the amount of money Rodriguez spent to make it’s predecessor El Mariachi (1992). For most of the killings they used a gun that essentially fired fake blood at the characters instead of squibs. This unfortunately created too realistic of an effect resulting in them having to edit out much of the deaths for the censors.

Why Should You Watch This?: I have always enjoyed Robert Rodriguez earlier films but mostly the ones that don’t cater to children. His adult oriented films are as entertaining and engaging as any other film makers. He is one of the few directors that can make style over substance work to his advantage. The “El Mariachi” trilogy is arguably his greatest accomplishment as a film maker and proves that you don’t need $100 million to make a really good looking film. Also this movie officially introduced Antonio Banderas as a viable and bankable movie star as well as Salma Hayek.

Films to See Before You Die: #44 Sin City


Sin City (2005)

Directors: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez

Cast: Mickey Rourke, Clive Owen, Bruce Willis, Jessica Alba, Benicio Del Toro, Elijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Nick Stahl

Synopsis: In the darkest bowels of Basin City, the tough as nails Marv (Mickey Rourke), makes love to a woman named Goldie. When he wakes up she was murdered while they were sleeping and someone has called the cops blaming it on Marv. Now Marv needs answers and he’ll kill anyone to get to the truth because he owes it to Goldie. Finally his questioning leads him to a farm owned by the extremely influential Cardinal Roark, where he finds Kevin (Elijah Wood), the man responsible for the death of Goldie and six other women. After Marv finds out the truth behind it all and that the Cardinal is in on it too the hell he sends them to will seem like heaven after what he has done to them. In another part of town Dwight McCarthy (Clive Owen), has slept with an old flame Shelley, who has since been involved with the abusive Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro). When Jackie Boy interrupts them and forces his way into her apartment with his gang of men he accuses Shelley of seeing another man and then hits her. While in the bathroom Dwight threatens to kill him if he ever touches Shelley again and dunks his head in the toilet. Jackie Boy leaves in a rage and heads to Old Town where the women are law and if you cross them you end up dead. Dwight follows him to Old Town where Gail (Rosario Dawson), has set a trap for Jackie Boy and his men. After killing them they realize that he is cop and they rush to get rid of his body before the Mob finds out and things go back to the way they were before. Honest cop John Hartigan (Bruce Willis), is hot on the trail of Senator Roark’s son Junior (Nick Stahl), who has been killing young girls and getting away with it because of his fathers influence. When he finds Junior with young Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), he is able to stop him from killing her and he relieves him of both his weapons. Stopping the Senator’s son doesn’t come without a price as Hartigan is kept alive to suffer and be blamed for Junior’s crimes. He receives a letter each week from Nancy, who signs them as Cordelia and this continues for 8 long years until he stops receiving letters which he believes is just her losing interest in keeping in touch. This is until he wakes up one morning to a smelly yellow man who nearly knocks his head off when he awakens there is an envelope from Nancy with blood on it and a finger inside. Desperate Hartigan signs a confession to get out of jail and save Nancy from that Yellow Bastard.

Trivia: While the three stories in the film are based on “The Hard Goodbye,” “The Big Fat Kill” and “That Yellow Bastard” as well as the short “The Customer is Always Right” there is a very brief scene taken from the story “A Dame to Kill For,” in which Dwight (Clive Owen) thinks in a voice over in Kadie’s Bar how Marv “would have been okay if he’d been born a couple of thousand years ago.”  Because of the way the movie was shot, Mickey Rourke (Marv) and Elijah Wood (Kevin) never met until after the film was released. Although several of the actors already looked similar to their characters, some of them underwent make-up and prosthetics to more strongly resemble their Frank Miller-drawn likenesses, including Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Benicio Del Toro, and Nick Stahl.

Why I think you should see this: This film blew me away when I first saw it in the theaters 300 looks great but Sin City is a whole other entity unto itself. This film has an all-star cast but the movie really belongs to Mickey Rourke who gives in the performance of a lifetime as Marv. I am not the biggest fan of Robert Rodriguez but every once in a while he releases a gem and this is his crowning achievement. It amazes me they are able to fit so much content into a 2 hour film. This is a must see in my opinion check it out.