Once Upon A Time In Mexico Robert Rodriguez

Once Upon A Time In Mexico Robert Rodriguez
Upon initial viewing on a big screen, with all its flaws exposed, Once Upon A Time In Mexico's plot seemed as riddled with bullet holes as any of the baddies El (Antonio Banderas) brazenly guns down. There was the appearance of Salma Hayek in flashback-only scenes that didn't jive with Desperado whatsoever. There was an almost total absence of charisma for mariachi turned kill-crazy gunman El, having given it all to Johnny Depp's awesome rogue C.I.A. agent Sands. And there was a convoluted plot involving a coup de tat, drug lords and blood money that seemed stretched way too thin. Sure, Johnny Depp delivered an awesome, eccentric performance but it wasn't enough. On the small screen and repeat viewings, these criticisms seem less and less glaring and the movie and performances (did I mention that Depp is awesome as Agent Sands?) become incredibly endearing. Maybe it's because Rodriguez explains away the problems of Once in his commentary and numerous features, which allows you to appreciate it more fully. Once is actually the third El Mariachi movie but it is the fourth, story-wise, following a fictitious third shown fractured and incongruently through flashbacks, which explains a lot of Once's continuity problems. He explains why stars such as Hayek are in it fleetingly (she was doing Frida and could only come in towards the end of shooting) and much like his "brother," Quentin Tarantino, Rodriguez possesses such energy and charisma when discussing any aspect of the film (shooting digitally in HD, writing, composing, etc.) it's impossible not to get sucked in. On top of his good commentary, Rodriguez gives us a featurette on how to cook Puerco Pibil, the pork dish Agent Sands kills over (witness again his killing the chef speech, priceless!), a ten-minute flick school featurette, a tour of his troublemaker studios (apparently it's easy to write, direct, shoot and compose a movie… as long as you're a frickin' insanely talented freak of nature). There are also deleted scenes and numerous other features that make Once almost great the second time around. Once still has its problems but for some reason, watching Depp dressed as a priest, complete with fake beard and bad Brando accent, they just melt away. Plus: featurettes, DVD-Rom, more. (Columbia/Sony)