Tag Archives: salma hayek

Roadracers – Review

5 Mar

I don’t think that I’ve talked about Robert Rodriguez on this blog yet, which is strange because he is one of the biggest inspirations to my style of writing and, hopefully, directing. He enjoys all things over the top, as you can see in his films such as DesperadoPlanet Terror, and Machete. Before all of this insanity was El Mariachi, the little indie film that put him on the map. What I’m sure many people don’t know about was a little TV movie he made for Showtime, Roadracers, which was made right before Desperado.

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Dude (David Arquette) is a 1950s greaser who spends his days cruising through town with his girlfriend Donna (Salma Hayek), getting into fights with his rival Teddy (Jason Wiles), and making trouble for the local sheriff (William Sadler). His entire life has been spent this way: moving fast but going nowhere. Now that Dude is beginning to grow up, he’s beginning to realize that he needs to get his act together and possibly follow up on a very possible music career, or get left in the dust and remain in the town. The pulling between the two factors pull Dude harder than he can handle, leading to a violent climax that will decide where Dude’s life will take him.

The first thing I noticed about this movie was the use of the character name “Dude.” Does that ring a bell for anyone? The Big Lebowski anyone? Funny thing is that Roadracers came first. I think that’s pretty interesting since The Dude from Lebowski is thought of as such a goofy and original character name. I mean no disrespect to the Coen Brothers, I enjoy their work and consider them two heroes of mine, but Rodriguez was first! This isn’t what I want to talk about though. After El Mariachi, Rodriguez made this film for Showtime which was doing a series of made for TV movies called Rebel Highway, that were homages to 1950s B-movies. The series featured big name directors like William Friedkin, but Rodriguez was, at the time, unknown.

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Like Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez has made his career off of making films that hearken back to the days of video stores and all of the strange genres that lurk in their darkest corners. In that respect, Rodriguez is the perfect choice to be a part of this series. Strangely enough, this was before he made his stylistic mark. It seems like he was born for this style of film making. Still, this was before he really found his niche, and it shows. The plot begins to jumble and ramble in the second act leaving me thinking that it could’ve have realistically been an hour long or maybe a little over. And hour and a half felt like a stretch.

I will say that the movie was better than I expected, but I wasn’t really expecting much. I laughed a lot in the beginning and I really liked how cheesy all of the ’50s style is played. It’s all over the top and romanticized while being satirized at the same time. Let’s compare it to one of my favorite films, Rebel Without a Cause. James Dean plays a character who is also beginning to grow up and learn that he needs to start making adult decisions without relying on adults. This is played very seriously, and almost tragically. Dude in Roadracers also needs to make these decisions, but they are played so over the top and comedically. Rebel Without a Cause  and Roadracers both critique the society of the time and the fact that cliques and classes are so separated, it made life for these young people difficult.

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Roadracers is an alright attempt by Rodriguez, although it is nowhere near as great as his next film, Desperado. By that point, he’s found his style and locked onto his ability and made a great film. This one, however, is pretty sloppy and got pretty boring by the midway point. It’s pretty silly, made me laugh, and the ending is abrupt, yet awesome. It still could’ve been a lot shorter and the narrative much cleaner. Unless you’re really a die hard fan of Rodriguez, skip this one. If you’re a huge fan and interested in all of his work, lower your standards and give it a quick watch. It’s very mediocre.

 

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Dogma – Review

6 Jun

With Chasing Amy, Kevin Smith proved that he had the capability to write screenplays that are both funny and dramatic, but also very mature and personal. This cinematic tradition continues with his 1999 film that both praises and mocks religion, Dogma.

Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) are homesick. Problem is, they can’t simply just go home being fallen angels banished to the Wisconsin area by God. When they find out that a sacred archway of a church in New Jersey is their ticket to heaven they vow to use it to get home while seeking out violent retribution on the way. Meanwhile, the angel Metatron (Alan Rickman) is sent to the house of Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) to task her with stopping these two angels from ever passing through the archway which would consequently destroy the world. She is given help from a few unlikely beings: the forgotten apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock); the muse Serendipity (Salma Hayek); and two “prophets”, Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith).

When Dogma first came out, many different Christian communities were up in arms due to the so called “offensive nature” of the movie. Kevin Smith is clearly not mocking religion or faith. He is mocking the fanatics and bigots who shove their religion down the throats of other people or those who are un-accepting of others beliefs. It’s a very personal film for Smith, much like Chasing Amy, because there are times where his own beliefs are made clear, despite what other may think of them.

This film is packed with stars. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have great chemistry as actors, and I would go so far as to say that Affleck gives his most under rated performance of his career. Linda Firorentino and Salma Hayek are just fine as their characters if nothing special. Chris Rock delivered a few chuckles, but came off as a bit too over the top. Alan Rickman owned every scene he was in, but the real scene stealers, in my opinion, once again go to Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith. I’m just a sucker for Jay and Silent Bob.

What you will probably notice is that Smith’s graphic crude dialogue is significantly dimmed down for Dogma. This is for the best considering the religious themes that are dealt with. Not only would it be disrespectful, but out of place for a movie like this. This isn’t to say anything is lost in the dialogue. It is still as sharp and witty as ever with lines that will most definitely be quoted. The long monologues are also back, and save for a great one once again delivered by Affleck, they seem to go on for a bit too long sometimes and I found my attention drifting.

Smith also amps up the violence to a surprising level. With Clerks and Mallrats, there were a few scenes of very mild comedic violence, but in Dogma there are some crazy action bits that are highly entertaining. Going into it the first time may be a bit shocking to newer fans of Kevin Smith, but it’s fun as hell and just adds a little unexpected flavor to the film.

To compare this to Chasing Amy and Clerks may be a bit unfair, because they are works of comic genius. On the flip side, I have no problem saying this tops MallratsDogma works not only as a comedy, but also as a part fantasy, part action film. Kevin Smith goes all out on this one and it shows. Die hard Askewniverse fans and casual film goers will have a great time with this movie. I easily recommend it.