Sunday, September 05, 2010

Family Road Trip and, if cartoon violence doesn't offend, go see "Machete"

Practically no blogging til Tuesday.

I got "Dad's night out last night," thanks to my wonderful wife.

It didn't get much press attention, but if you go see the film Machete, you'll find it's probably the most overtly political film released by a major studio for mass production  in years.

Though admittedly, its over the top violence will not be conducive to the singing of the Barney theme song, its message is clear: everybody is being exploited and abused by this rash of xenophobia. To be fair to the movie though it is ridiculously cartoon violence reminiscent of cheap 60s and 70s grindhouse movies. 

Ok, ok, ok, here's Focus on the Family's review. I'm fair and balanced, you know.

 Machete got its start as a faux trailer targeting hard-core fans of the 2007 double-feature splatterfest Grindhouse. Then, in May 2010, a real trailer for this so-called "Mexploitation" film singled out the state of Arizona for its strict new illegal immigration law. In the trailer, actor Danny Trejo intoned, "This is Machete with a special Cinco de Mayo message—to Arizona!" The trailer that followed highlighted the film's bloody mayhem … and message.

"I simply wanted to make a special trailer that was as absurd as what was happening in Arizona," director Robert Rodriguez told, "So I took some coincidentally timely lines of dialogue from the old original fake trailer from three years ago and from the new movie, reconfigured action beats, and cut it all out of context to make it look like the entire film was about Machete leading a revolt against anti-immigration politicians and border vigilantes. What can I say, it was Cinco de Mayo, and I had too much tequila."

But make no mistake: Rodriguez does have a political point to make with Machete. Volunteer border guards are sadistic racists, and illegal immigrants are heroes and martyrs. Sartana, a Latin American immigration official in the United States, is caught in between. Eventually she concludes that the "right" thing to do is scrap the badge and join Machete, an antihero who morphs into something akin to a William Wallace-like figure in his quest to fight for oppressed illegal immigrants everywhere. "If the laws don't offer us justice, they aren't laws," Sartana tells us. "We didn't cross the border—the border crossed us!"

"Rarely has the 'case' against Anglo America been made as strongly, albeit cartoonishly, as in Machete," writes James P. Pinkerton of Fox News. "In the film … all the Anglos are either evil or stupid. By contrast, the Hispanics are almost all innocent victims, until, of course, the rousing moment of liberation at the end."

 That ain't quite true, about all the Anglos. It's not about all the Anglos, just the ones that are exploiting this issue for their own ends.  Of course, this hits a bit close to home on Focus on the Family and Fox "News."

Oh, and one other thing: this is  the best performance by Robert De Niro  in years. And the best  performance by tulku Steven Seagal ever, in my humble opinion.

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