Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Guitar Heroes: Jack White & El Mariachi

First things first, the theme song for the new 007 flick, "Quantum of Solace," is now online for your consumption.

"Another Way to Die," by Jack White and Alicia Keyes, is available for download on iTunes, or streaming at

Reactions have been heavily mixed, from people being very happy with it to calling it the worst Bond song ever.

After repeated listenings, I have to say that I think it's pretty darned good. It's no "Live and Let Die" or "Goldfinger," but it's also no "Die Another Day," thank God.

It's just about what I had expected when I heard that Jack White was writing a Bond song. It is loud and sloppy, but also clever, catchy, and oddly elegant. As a fan of the White Stripes and the Raconteurs, perhaps I'm a tad biased.

As a side-note: Everybody's doing the comparison game now that this song is openly available, and there's a legion of geeks screaming that it's not as good as Chris Cornell's "You Know My Name." I just want to go on record with this:


Finally, I'm going to do another "You Gotta See This!" today.

In 1993, there was no YouTube. Nobody had heard of Neil Cicierega or the Ask a Ninja guys, and it was extremely difficult to get your cinematic vision into the public eye without A LOT OF MONEY.

Robert Rodriguez was a young aspiring filmmaker that lived on the Texas-Mexico border, who raised $9,000 to make "El Mariachi," which was shot on location in Ciudad Acuna, where it takes place. Rodriguez raised about half of his tiny budget by participating in medical experiments.

Watching this film is astounding. It looks better than a film lit entirely on natural light and two lightbulbs has any business looking.

Essentially, it's a straightforward actioner about a mariachi guitar player who is mistaken for a feared murderer who keeps a cache of weapons inside a guitar case. It is a fun, seat-of-your-pants, live-action cartoon filled with interesting characters and memorable setpieces.

Rrodriguez has made several DVD features and commentaries, as well as a book, about all the things he did to save money on this movie--of the nine grand, he ended up spending just over seven.

This entire movie was made by Rodriguez, who shot the film while being pushed around in a wheelchair to keep movement smooth, and recorded sound with a cheap little Radio Shack recorder and microphone. The film was crewed by Rodriguez, and any actors who were not currently in the shot being filmed.

And it is one of the cooler action flicks of the early nineties, and launched a career of fun movies (and "Sharkboy and Lava Girl," but nevermind that).

To put that into perspective, in 2004, aspiring filmmaker John Fiorella shot "Grayson," a fan-film about Batman's sidekick all grown up, investigating Batman's murder. The film, little more than an extended mock-trailer, was six minutes long and cost $18,000.

And while it's a fine fan-flick, Rodriguez made an hour-and-twenty-minute film for less than half that, and got it picked up by Columbia Tristar for distribution.

Take a look at "El Mariachi," if you're I was and have never seen it before. It's a good one.

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