Robert Rodriguez

Photo Essay: 'Machete' at the Paramount


Last Thursday night, the Paramount was completely sold out for the local premiere of Machete, the latest film from Troublemaker Studios. The event was a fundraiser for the Texas Filmmakers Production Fund and the Texas Motion Picture Alliance (TXMPA). Director Robert Rodriguez was on the red carpet along with a number of stars and supporting cast from the locally shot film: Danny Trejo (shown above, naturally), Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Daryl Sabara, Elise and Electra Avellan, Billy Blair, Mayra Leal, and several others.

Paul Gandersman took some excellent photos for Slackerwood from the Machete red carpet, as well as a few from the intro and Q&A inside the Paramount. This was an impressive feat since the red carpet was extremely crowded that night, both with celebrities on the actual carpet and media surrounding it. Here are some of the best pictures from that evening -- mouse over them if you want to know who's in them. For more info on Machete itself, read Jette's review. Many thanks again to Paul for the following photos.

Review: Machete



"Finally, the movie that Eat Pray Love should have been."
-- Slackerwood contributor Don Clinchy, immediately after watching Machete

I feel I can't really do Machete justice without channeling Joe Bob Briggs, the drive-in movie of Grapevine, Texas, and giving you a count on decapitations, bare breasts, nine kinds of fu, and other grisly types of fighting, wounding, and death. And tattoos. But Joe Bob, I am not.

I also wish I'd seen Machete in a drive-in theater, but we don’t really have those in Texas anymore -- not the old-fashioned kind, anyway, with the crappy speakers that hook onto your cars and the scary faraway bathrooms and all that. Since drive-ins are nearly extinct, Robert Rodriguez's latest flick will flourish with a big, receptive, rowdy audience for full enjoyment. Don’t wait for DVD. You want the kind of crowd you get at an Alamo Weird Wednesday, who can respect the movie while at the same time cheering and applauding for the best lines and the most creative kills.

However, while Machete was born to be a midnight movie, the movie is happily free of too much self-awareness of this fact, and avoids an excess of camp, apart from the occasional knowing wink to the 1970s exploitation films that inspired it.

Photo Essay: 'Predators' Red Carpet

A note from Jette: I'd like to introduce you all to our newest Slackerwood contributor, Paul Gandersman. Paul is an amazing photographer who attended the Predators red carpet and world premiere. My own red-carpet photography skills have come a long way since my first experience with them, but Paul's photos leave mine in the shade. He captured some great photos of Predators producers Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan, director Nimrod Antal and star Adrien Brody. In addition, red carpet appearances included a couple of actors from previous Troublemaker Studios films who Joe O'Connell tells us are about to star in blacktino, a movie produced by Avellan (that I'd love to hear more about): Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids, World's Greatest Dad) and Jeff Fahey (Planet Terror).

I'm posting these photos without any descriptions in between them -- I think they stand on their own very well. For those of you needing a hint, you can mouse over the photos themselves. Enjoy.

Review: Predators



How do you rate big dumb summer movies? Sometimes they can be clever, like the first Iron Man movie -- sometimes all you want is for them to entertain you without being annoying. Predators isn't fresh or new and it isn't even memorable, but on the other hand, you can enjoy some suspenseful scenes and even a few explosions without feeling bored or annoyed. In terms of summer blockbuster scale, that counts for a lot. You don't even have to know anything about the previous Predator movies -- in fact, maybe it's best if you don't.

Predators is so predictable that you can actually recite along with the dialogue, knowing exactly what the characters will say, and then feel a small sense of pride and accomplishment at having got it right. I made a bet with myself on the time and victim of the first death and was off by only about two minutes. The problem with having a number of character actors and little-known actors among well-known stars is that the audience has a pretty good idea of who's going to survive at least the first hour of the movie.

The characters don't reveal their names, which is appropriate because they are a collection of stereotypes and ass-kicking archetypes from the action-film genre. We've got the Tough Reluctant Leader (Adrien Brody), the Tough Military Chick (Alice Braga), the Mexican You Don't F*** With (Danny Trejo, natch), Silent Yakuza, Wise-Ass Serial Killer ... you get the idea. Oh, and one meek and seemingly out-of-place Doctor (Topher Grace). They each find themselves suddenly parachuting into an unfamiliar jungle, and after a few scuffles, all band together to find out what's going on.

Austin Lands World Premiere of 'Predators'


Robert RodriguezThe Troublemaker Studios-produced summer action blockbuster Predators will have its world premiere here in Austin, at -- where else? -- The Paramount. Austin Film Society is hosting the gala event on Wednesday, July 7 at 8 pm. Tickets go on sale this Thursday at noon via the Paramount website.

No word yet on which cast and crew will be there, but a red carpet is planned so we know some celebrity-spotting will be happening. I assume we'll see director Nimrod Antal there as well as Austin producers Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellan. I'm hoping for Danny Trejo, myself.

You may remember that Fox hosted some sneak peeks at bits of Predators during SXSW this year: Rod Paddock gave us the scoop on the extremely popular "first look" event, and I was up bright and early the next morning for a press conference (where I took the picture of Rodriguez at right).

Predators was shot here in Austin (as well as in Hawaii), but I don't think any of it was shot outside of Troublemaker Studios, so we may not see any recognizable landmarks in the film. After all, it is primarily set on the Predator planet, so far as I can tell. Although I'm not normally a big summer action-film lover, I liked what I saw at the SXSW preview and the cast is a very interesting combination: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga and -- the man who probably steals the film -- Laurence Fishburne.

Slackery News Tidbits, May 18

Let's see what's been going on with Austin-related film news lately:

  • Austin Film Society is celebrating 10 years of Austin Studios with a big Make Watch Love Movies party on June 18 starting at 6:30 pm. Admission is free for AFS members, Texas film crew and Austin Studios neighbors, although you can help sponsor the event if you choose. The event will honor Moody Anderson as well as Alison Macor's book about Austin film, Chainsaws, Slackers, and Spy Kids. Elizabeth Avellan, Mike Judge, Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez will be hosts.
  • The Paramount Theatre is looking for five "volunteer publicists" -- bloggers who will spread the word regularly about the joys of the theater's Summer Classic Film Series. In return, you get an all-access pass for the film series. Too bad I don't already have a website devoted to this sort of thing or I'd be right there in line. Deadline is tomorrow so act fast.
  • Nueva Onda kicks off its 2010 monthly Movie Nights on Thursday with three short films: Flat Daddy, a work-in-progress documentary about military families; the short-short To Do That from local filmmaker Jason Brenizer; and Manos de Madre, the story of a Guatemalan woman forced to live on a garbage dump, which played at the Hideout during SXSW this year. Also, check out the new Nueva Onda Movie blog for info on upcoming screenings.

Watch Bob Schneider Directed by Robert Rodriguez


Robert RodriguezThis week has been a nostalgic one for me. Two days after I moved to Austin in 1993, I saw Bob Schneider as the hair-slinging, shorts-dragging frontman of Joe Rockhead at a Fourth of July outdoor concert at Zilker Park. I became better acquainted with Schneider that same year as a regular at the Steamboat 1874 and the Black Cat, two historic Sixth Street music venues that are long gone (although there's a huge Steamboat reunion at Threadgill's on May 16). After Joe Rockhead left the scene, Schneider fronted Ugly Americans and then The Scabs before striking out on what's proven to be quite a successful solo career.

Schneider has always been good about releasing live recordings of many of his performances, but until now the Austin musician has not really explored much on the video side of his music. That's changed recently with the help of one of Austin's busiest and most well-known filmmakers, Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez took a weekend off from post-production on Predators and Machete to direct a music video for Bob Schneider's song "40 Dogs (Like Romeo and Juliet)," from the album Lovely Creatures. The video stars Schneider and actress Kat Denning, and, Rodriguez's youngest son Rogue Joaquin also appears. The video is embedded below -- see if you can identify the Austin locations, which I'll reveal after the jump.

Rodriguez Embraces Film Reboots from 'Predators' to 'Spy Kids 4'


Robert RodriguezOn the first Saturday morning of SXSW 2010, I got up at a time that would be reasonable for a weekday, but for a weekend during a film festival is best described as "Oh My [Expletive] God AM." I found out that at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, free downtown parking near Alamo Ritz abounds. This is great advice for earlybirds, but you'd have to be insane to be that kind of earlybird during SXSW Film.

I was headed to a press screening/conference for Predators, the latest movie co-produced and co-written by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. The film was shot on location in Hawaii as well as here in Austin at Troublemaker Studios. The night before the press event, people had waited in line for hours on end to see the footage I was about to watch. You can read Rod Paddock's account of the "First Look" event for more details.

The press screening was just for the Predators footage shown at the public event -- we didn't get the conceptual artwork or a visit from special-effects/make-up master Greg Nicotero. Here's what we saw:

  • A trailer for Predators, which tells us that a bunch of people who don't know one another and are very dangerous folks have all been transported to the Predators planet. Looks like Adrien Brody's character takes the lead. I particularly liked Laurence Fishburne and Alice Braga, even though she appears to be a permutation of Jenette Goldstein in Aliens (or Michelle Rodriguez in Avatar).

SXSW 2010: 'Predators' First Look


Predator ticketContributor Rod Paddock was lucky enough to get into a "first look" at Predators during SXSW and wrote up the following account of the event. The film is being produced and co-written by Austin filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and was shot in part at local Troublemaker Studios.

On Friday night I was in possession of what has to one of the "golden tickets" of SXSW. This golden ticket was the combination of a SXSW Express pass and a red Predators ticket (see image). The combination of these two items gave me the chance be a part of the sneak preview of the Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal reboot of the Predator franchise: Predators.

After hours of waiting the house lights dimmed, and out came the master of ceremonies, Austin's native son Robert Rodriguez. He started the evening showing us the trailer for Predators. I don't think I have ever been so pumped after seeing a trailer. By every indication this movie is going to be off the hook and will satisfy Predator fans worldwide. The trailer introduces our protagonists, who find themselves transported to a Predator hunting planet. There are some heavy hitters in this cast: Lawrence Fishburne, Adrien Brody and Topher Grace. We also have one of my favorite actors, Walton Goggins (who you might remember from the FX show The Shield).

Slackery News Tidbits, December 23


Danny Trejo at Cinemapocalypse, by Debbie Cerda'Twas the day before the night before Christmas, and all through the town ... oh, never mind. I'm lousy at those kinds of parodies. What I'm trying to say is that Austin has a rather surprising quantity of film news this week. Let's see what we've got for today:

  • Fantastic Fest 2010 is now accepting submissions for short and feature films. Let's get lots of local films in the running (and hopefully in the lineup)!
  • Next year The Domain will open a gift that keeps on giving -- a new movie theater. The LA Times has a story about the upscale Gold Class Cinema chain, which has only a few locations so far. Will Austinites shell out nearly $30 for a first-run movie ticket plus extra cash for fancy food, or will we stick with lower prices and food options at local Alamo Drafthouse theaters? Maybe the new theater will attract Domain regulars as opposed to film geeks.
  • The latest Predator movie, produced by Robert Rodriguez, has been shooting in Austin recently. Apparently there was a press day/set visit (pssst: please invite us next time!), which means we're seeing a wealth of interviews with Rodriguez and one of the film's stars, Danny Trejo (pictured above). IESB has a nice interview with Trejo about Machete. Collider talks with Rodriguez about upcoming projects, including Sin City 2 and the possibility of another Spy Kids movie.
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