Thursday 3 October 2013

Girl and ammo: "Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman"

It's always a sign of a healthy film culture when a country is not just making the kind of prestige ventures that pick up the top prizes at festivals, but cultivating that variety of genre filmmaking from which the next generation of prizewinners may yet emerge. The scrappy throwback Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman - which arrives in a deliberately worn and speckled print, as did the Grindhouse movies before it - doesn't in itself seal the argument that something of cinematic note is happening in Chile right now, but at the very least it offers an appreciable contrast with the Oscar-nominated NO, and a modicum of sniggering, brain-in-neutral fun. This may be the first film to be openly influenced by Grand Theft Auto, right down to the prevalence of camera shots tracking a car's movements from above and behind and the retro font in which its various "missions" (including that of the title) are flashed up on screen; its protagonist is a wimpy DJ (Matias Oviedo) who spends his days playing such games and his nights working at a club, where he overhears his mobster boss's bellowed demand for an ex-girlfriend's head, and comes to volunteer for the task, as a way of currying favour and extending his life.

Like many based-on-XBox movies, it might actually be more enjoyable to play than watch, and there's a sense that writer-director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza hasn't fully worked out whether he just wants to reproduce the vicarious thrills of violent video games (as per Crank), undercut the fantasy element with harsh reality (as per Special or Super), or simply play Kick-Ass's have-your-cake-and-eat-it card. Making the hero a lanky streak of piss who doesn't know how to get a gun, let alone fire it properly may suggest the second route, but his rapid-fire ascent to man of action, and the fact Fernanda Urrejola's heroine - decked out in Lara Croft-style hotpants and wholly impractical spiked-heel boots - acquiesces to a zipless fuck with him mere seconds after he's removed a bullet from her side pushes it closer to the latter's nerd fantasy. A streak of diverting weirdness - assassins styled as one-man bands, offbeat character names (Shadeline Soto, Don Che Sausage) of the kind Tarantino deals in, Rocco's ear-catchingly sleazy score - keeps you halfway interested, though, and in the end it's hard not to indulge it as a similar expression of tart, low-budget cheek to that Edgar Wright made with A Fistful of Fingers and Robert Rodriguez made with El Mariachi - and look what happened to them. Further missions may yet follow for Señor Espinoza.

Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman is in selected cinemas, ahead of its DVD release on October 14.

No comments:

Post a Comment