MAR. 5, 2007
If you’re waiting around for a Robert Rodriguez “think piece,” it already happened. It was written by a 7-year-old and it was called The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. Smoke a bowl and watch it sometime. SB&LG is like pressing a naked eyeball against a glory hole of unrestrained parental indulgence. It’s an unwitting 3-D morality play that explores the question of whether one should, even if one can. For Rodriguez, the answer to that question has always been an enthusiastic “Yes!” – and the fact that SB&LG grossed a morally compromising $69 million sort of makes the question moot anyway, doesn’t it? What Rodriguez can do is a huge part of his creative genius. He’s the Horatio Alger of DIY budget filmmaking. Give him $7000 he’ll crank out a respectable south-of-the-border shoot-em-up. Toss in an extra $18,993,000 and he’ll give you a south-of-the-border shoot-em-up with gratuitous gore, exploding vampires, and Salma Hayek (or Juliette Lewis if you like a little dirt on your eye candy). The bottom line is that Rodriguez has the creativity and ability to get the job done for a lower bottom line, and that makes him both a hot commodity in Hollywood and a hero among independent filmmakers. So what if he hasn’t buckled down and shot some terse, brooding drama in the Style of Dogme 95? He’s kept millions of theatregoers and studio execs fat and happy on a colorful, cheesy diet of green screen special effects, fast action, simple plots, and even simpler dialog. Most importantly, he’s funneled mountains of money into the Austin film community and helped establish Austin as a viable alternative for independent filmmakers. He’s also friends with Quentin Tarantino, who like Willie Nelson and Matthew McConaughey seems to have partied with everyone in Austin except you. Recently Rodriguez and Tarantino collaborated on Grindhouse, a slasher/zombie movie double feature joined by a series of fake horror movie trailers – just the sort of stuff at which Rodriguez excels. Grindhouse won’t be opening until April, but this Saturday during SXSW Rodriguez will make an appearance at Republic Park for a special Rolling Roadshow screening of two classic horror films: Torso, by Sergio Martino, and Lucio Fulcie’s Zombie. Before the double feature there will be a collection of classic grindhouse trailers followed by an introduction by Rodriguez. In the intermission between the films, Rodriguez will announce and screen the winners of SXSW’s Grindhouse Trailer Competition. Admission is free with a SXSW wristband, but on this night anyone can jump into the SXSW Film melee for only $10. Rodriguez could probably shoot a grindhouse trailer for less than that.