James / July 22nd, 2013

One of the books that inspired me to pursue filmmaking was Rebel Without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez. It encourages the independent spirit in us all, who want to make our own movies without having to throw ourselves into the Hollywood meat grinder.


Rodriguez funded his first feature film El Mariachi (1992) by being a human guinea pig in lab experiments for drug studies. Being young and with a low budget, most indie filmmakers would make some kind of talky drama or art house film. He went for an action film! I’ve been following his movies ever since. They all kept with that same fun action vibe, for the most part.


Together with Quentin Tarantino, he ushered in the new generation of young filmmakers. Rodriguez & Tarantino were the new Steven Spielberg & George Lucas. El Mariachi came out the same year as Reservoir Dogs. Both those films gave these two directors their start. Rodriguez’s Desperado (1995) may have been the equivalent of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994). They both directed the best two segments of the four-part comedy Four Rooms (1995). They joined together to make the excellent From Dusk Til Dawn (1996). Rodriguez directed. Tarantino wrote and starred opposite George Clooney.


They both had their clunkers. Rodriguez had The Faculty (1998) and Tarantino had Jackie Brown (1997). Sorry, they just don’t do much for me. Not to mention Once Upon a Time in Mexico I thought was an underwhelming conclusion to the Mariachi trilogy. And of course there’s the Spy Kids movies which are more geared towards children. You can take them or leave them.


Rodriguez’s Sin City (2005) may have been the equivalent of Tarantino’s two part Kill Bill epic (2003/2004). Both are ultra violent and stylized with dark humor. I loved these movies. (I eagerly await Sin City: A Dame to Kill For!) Tarantino also guest directed a portion of Sin City.


The two of them joined together again for the Grindhouse double feature (2007). Wow! It was a legitimate 3 1/2 hour double feature. Two movies for the price of one, plus hilarious fake trailers in-between! Planet Terror was a really fun super gory zombie film, and Death Proof was a witty suspenseful slasher film with Kurt Russell giving an amazing performance, and the best car chase EVER! It saddens me how underrated Death Proof is, but I can understand all the talky scenes turning people off, and especially after sitting through Planet Terror and being so entertained, your brains turn to mush. Death Proof kills off it’s main cast halfway through, so the second half, it has to take the time to establish a whole new set of characters, making it a double feature in itself, when ONE double feature was already enough. Also having the film released in the month of April seemed pretty random.


After establishing their styles as being “fun”, both directors started taking serious real life topics and mixing them into their fun. Rodriguez took immigration issues in Machete (2010) and Tarantino exploited terrible events in history like the holocaust in Inglorious Basterds (2009) and slavery in Django Unchained (2012). I think some of these films are great (mainly on the Tarantino side) but I’m not sure why they always have to use such hard hitting topics. I think you should either make something serious like Schindler’s List or make something campy and fun like Independence Day. Mixing them, I’m not sure how I feel about.


I’m not a rabid fan of every single movie they put out, but they are forever on my radar. Whenever they have a new movie out, I can’t miss it. Here’s the trailer for Rodriguez’s upcoming Machete Kills.


  • frostare

    July 22, 2013 at 12:42 am

    Sounds good, never heard of it before unless it’s THAT Machete

  • WollyTheWolf

    July 22, 2013 at 4:28 am

    I actually liked The Faculty. But, I agree it isn’t Rodriguez best film.

  • olio

    July 22, 2013 at 5:17 am

    Faculty is good movie, not the best of rodriguez. But Jackie Brown a clonker! That is the best of tarantino, he won’t do better than jackie, ever.

  • July 22, 2013 at 7:12 am

    I actually kinda liked the faculty, as cheesy as it was. I rented it one weekend, and ended up watching it twice before returning it.

    Just think, James. Maybe, these guys will start following *your* movies just like you follow theirs. I don’t want to sound like a ball-sucking fan boy, but I really, truly, honestly believe that the AVGN movie is going to be your big break. You’re a very talented filmmaker whose breadth and scope goes far beyond a character who plays nintendo saying “What a shitload of fuck.” Don’t misunderstand me though, I *LOVE* AVGN, but I know that you’re so much more capable just from watching some of your other films.

    I really wish you all the best, and I can’t wait to see the AVGN film.

  • taykel

    July 22, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I don’t think I ever sat through all the Spy Kids films. They came out when I was a kid, except the fourth one. I did see the third film because it was in 3D. Liked it back, but I think it’s too cheesy now. I respect your opinion on those movies though.

  • July 22, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I wasn’t overly impress with Jackie Brown either, but it has one saving grace: Michael Keaton. He’s not in it much but he steals the show. It’s one of my favorite performances by him.

    I kind of like the first two Spy Kids movies. I thought they were really funny and inventive. I haven’t seen the other ones, though.

    I think Django Unchained is a good movie, but I don’t think it was worthy of an Oscar Nomination. Overrated. I love Tarantino movies, Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movie of all time.

    • July 23, 2013 at 4:08 pm

      personally I love Jackie Brown. Its very subtle and well made. Pam Grier and Robert Forester are excellent as well as the whole cast. I honestly think it is underated.

      • HomingMissiles

        August 1, 2013 at 2:57 am

        I may be wrong, but Jackie Brown is the only movie Tarantino ever made that isn’t based on original material by him. It’s an engaging and competent film with a superb casting. Overall I find his usual extravagant stuff very fun (at least on a first viewing), but part of me wishes he could film smaller, less self indulgent material like Jackie Brown every now and then.

  • July 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

    Rebel without a crew was the first book about filmmaking I’ve ever read. It was pretty life changing. Like James said This was the book that inspired me to pursue filmmaking.

  • July 22, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Its funny because Tarantino has said that Deathproof was his least favorite movie that he made. The car chase is refreshing compared to everything else out at the time, but best ever it is not.

    • July 24, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Pretty cool movie and awesome car chase, but I agree that’s it’s not the best car chase ever made. Though, it’s up there close to the top.

      My personal favorite car chase is still the last 20 minutes of The Road Warrior… or Mad Max 2… whatever the heck it’s called.

  • July 22, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    James, I would like to point out that for the fake trailers between the movies in Grindhouse, real movies have been realized. For Machete you know this.

    But as a Dutch guy I need to make a comment about ‘hobo with a shotgun’. It’s Rutger Hauer (‘the hobo’) with a shotgun, need to say more?
    I know you gonna like this one. Take a look at it, I mean: Rutger Hauer with a shotgun, wauw….

    • July 23, 2013 at 10:49 am

      I love that movie! I saw it when it was briefly in the theater and I laughed my ass off. So many hilarious one-liners. So stupid, yet so funny.

      • July 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm

        It’s so stupid and dumb, that it’s so hilarious. Over the top and consequent in style. Especially the part that he talks about that lawnmoyer with the girl. They make a sign: You grow it, we cut it. But he decides to do what he knows best: Take the shotgun by hand and justice into own hands.
        Their is a kind of message in the film but it’s really disturbed by the tone of the film.
        The director made a short film: treevenge. Also worth watching.

        Ofcourse you also have seen ‘the hitcher’? My favorite movie with Rutger Hauer.

    • July 23, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Abby: “Hey, come on, man. He’s a kid! Let it slide.”
      Slick: “The only thing I’m going to ‘let slide’, is my dick in your pussy.”

      • July 24, 2013 at 5:17 am

        Really heartwarming moment indeed, especially because a moment before we witnessed a guy’s head getting crushed between two bumpercars.

  • July 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    cool. I love me some tarantino. i have only seen sin city and 4 rooms but i enjoyed each of those rodriguez films but am not that familiar with the robert rodriguez filmography.

  • July 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Where’s the Pacific Rim review? You guys? You’re doing one, right?

  • Boo Daclown

    July 22, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    I was wondering if you got the idea to shoot the deader the better in black/white style from sin city because they look similar.

  • Dr. Breakfastmachine

    July 23, 2013 at 1:14 am

    I liked The Faculty and Jackie Brown but I agree they’re way below par for Rodriguez and Tarantino.

    Also I’d like to thank James for enlightening me about Rebel without a Crew! I think I will read that as soon as I get the chance.

  • Hank Foreman

    July 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    As a kid, I enjoyed the Spy Kids films, Yes, even the third film with Sylvester Stallone’s over-the-top acting and its cheesy 3D (it was the first 3D film I saw in a theater, what about it?). As an adult, I haven’t seen them in a long time, nor have I seen the fourth one (and I don’t plan to).

  • karel1

    July 23, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    Didn’t see the first Machete. I will now.

  • August 3, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    it’s funny that James posted a video of Machete Kills yet we have never seen a video (yet) where James gave his opinion on the new Pacific Rim film. since he loves giant monsters films, I was almost expecting him to give a quick opinion on it. even if it wasn’t a direct video response, it would of been nice to see him blog about it. even with his AVGN film, he has enough time to post other videos so I doubt that he wouldn’t have at least some time to see this film and give his opinion. we all know he’s a fan of monsters films, so this would of been right up his ally as they say. even I would recommend this film to him if given the chance.

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