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Get the Gringo… or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Mel Gibson at the cannes film festival

Mel Gibson at the cannes film festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Well it was bedtime at El Pueblito, but it looked like all the good pieces of dirt were taken…”

 

Mel Gibson has had a rough time in the past few years (after his drunken rant) despite the fact he’s an oscar winning director and one of the biggest action stars of the past few decades. So forget the Mad Max films and the Lethal Weapons and focus on the Bravehearts and Apocalyptos of this world – and look up one of his best movies you might have missed (barring Edge of Darkness).

 

Billed by many as the unofficial sequel to Payback Get The Gringo (or Kill The Gringo or How I Spent My Summer Vacation) is a mexican prison movie starring Mel in a tight action/drama piece that reminds us how big a star he is. After The Expendables 3 Mel might let his star shine bright again, but if you’ve passed this one up it’s well worth a viewing and seeking out.

 

Mel is on top form as our unnamed protagonist (“Richard Johnson” (or Dick Dick..) ) in a brilliantly paced movie that has oodles of deadpan humor among the realistic action pieces as we discover just why he’s incarcerated and how he’s going to solve his dilemma. You get the feel that this isn’t a throwaway comeback (I’m looking at you Arnie!) even if it doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t. Mel Gibson knows what makes an exciting film, and perhaps more importantly understands what audiences want to see, as everything from the mariachi soundtrack through the gritty hellhole chic reminds us that exciting quality action cinema doesn’t have to be dross.

 

It’s the internal dialogue that makes the film. Mel Gibson’s deadpan narrative shows everything from his resignation through survival as he susses out what makes the prison tick and you can’t help but chuckle and wince in equal parts. As prison dramas go this is up there with Midnight Express if you manage to mate the darkness with the comedy, and  it shows that Mel Gibson is still a force to be reckoned with – remember his hollywood “exile” was self imposed as he still largely has the comfort of being able to finance and make his own movies!

 

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The Internet Guide For The Movie Addict

As we all know the Internet is a treasure trove of information. If you love movies, you’ll find all the information you ever need to know on the net.

MakeUsOf.com have written an Internet Guide for the Movie Addict , which you can read online via Scribd. This covers all the usual aggregation sites and review sites, such as IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, as well as details on watching stuff online, finding show times, finding movie trailers, torrents (uh oh!), and much more. There are also some notes on getting the best playback on your PC.

This is a great one stop shop for the movie buff, which I highly recommend. I daresay you’d already be familiar with some of the sites mentioned but there’s a few gems there you might not know.

One thing we should all do is rate and review everything we can… but who has time for that? Personally, I wish I did more, but thankfully others have.

You can also download the guide as a PDF by the filling in the quick e-mail form here .

PS. I found this guide via Stumbleupon, on this page of guides. Mostly from MakeUseOf.com, they detail everything from video and audio guides through to using iPhones, iTunes, Macs, Linux, Windows Mobile, Bittorrent, and much more. Well worth a visit.

Fan Films and Ultra Low Budget Movies

There’s a thriving “Fan Film” community on the Internet, and some of their output is very good indeed.

I almost said “surprisingly” good, but that would be a disservice to the people who make these. I just read a report about the fan film “The Hunt For Gollum” ( BBC News ) and, watching the trailer, you could almost believe it was a Peter Jackson production. Even their lead actor looks like Viigo Mortenson (Aragorn).

So, I started browsing. And there’s a lot out there.

These films are typically independent movies made on a microscopic budget. The people involved tend to give their time for free, and all help and support is organised via the Internet. Costs are incurred mostly for equipment and makeup / costume / special effects. Luckily CGI shots are much cheaper to make these days with talented amateurs able to contribute for home – just see Star Wars: Revelations .

These are movies by fans for fans. The quality can vary dramatically but the fact remains that its amazing they get completed at all. The legality is a little dubious, but most have the understanding – if not the blessing – of copyright holders as long as they are non-profit.

There’s a big directory of fan films at FanFilms.net . Here you can see homages and tributes to everything from Ghostbusters to Buffy, via MacGyver, CSI, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even Sonic The Hedgehog! Predictably, it’s the more popular franchises that are attempted – so there’s quite a few Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond and superheroes like Spiderman and Superman.

It’s worth noting that a lot listed above are unfinished, in production, or just plain – I hate to say it – bad. But hey, they’re created for fun, or for love of the original. Many are student movies, some are amazingly professional with quality actors contributing, and you can see most online. Running times vary, but it seems 0:30 to 1:00 are the norm.

Other sites worth checking out are:

ComicBookBin.com

Indie channel at Spike.com

Atom Films Originals

And of course a search at Google or more specifically, Google Video will throw up a lot more, including specific sites catering for, say, Indie Fan Films and StarWars Fan Films .

Finally, some more choices? Try these:

Starship Farragut (Classic Star Trek)

Escape From City 17 (Half Life 2 – Yay!)

Moonraker ’78 (Bond)

The Greatest Fan Film Of All Time (Lol)

Speed Racer Review

This movie, from the Wachowski Brothers, is perhaps the ultimate live action cartoon. I haven’t seen the early anime on which it is based but I don’t think you need to.

This is beautiful to look at, filmed almost entirely with vivid, primary coloured computer graphics, the only non-cgi elements are the actors themselves. The races are hyperactive, non-stop action with acrobatic cars fitted with cool gadgets. Seriously, this movie carries a style all of its own – well done messrs Wachowski!

It stars Emile Hirsch, John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Fox and Christina Ricci. All the actors do a great job considering their stereotypical characters and really get into the spirit of the film. The bad drivers appropriately snarl and sneer, the evil crime boss and industry mogul are joyfully overacted, and even John Goodman’s fight scenes are great to watch 🙂

Surprisingly, the plot is decent, even though there’s never really any doubt how things will pan out. And there are the odd touching moments such as the dad to son talk, and the background of the “myserious” Racer X. Bet you could see his “secret” coming from a mile off!

This was panned by the critics, and didn’t do too well at the box office. It will probably do better on DVD. Personally, I think the film delivers what is meant to. Some feel the running time at over 2hrs is too long, but it felt just right to me. It never felt boring and never let off it’s rapid pace.

Don’t get me wrong: this is not going to leave a lasting impression with the viewer and won’t win any awards (apart from special effects and videography) – but it’s an enjoyable two hours and you’ll really get caught up in the proceedings. This is a kids film but really anyone will like it.

Nice to see Ben Miles popping up as a commentator in the last race – I remember him well from the excellent “Coupling” TV series.

8.5 / 10
IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes