Frederick Aldama’s The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez (2014) was the first full-scale study of one of the most prolific and significant Latino directors making films today. In this companion volume, Aldama enlists a corps of experts to analyze a majority of Rodriguez’s feature films, from his first break-out success El Mariachi in 1992 to Machete in 2010. The essays explore the formal and thematic features present in his films from the perspectives of industry (context, convention, and distribution), the film blueprint (auditory and visual ingredients), and consumption (ideal and real audiences). The authors illuminate the manifold ways in which Rodriguez’s films operate internally (plot, character, and event) and externally (audience perception, thought, and feeling).
The volume is divided into three parts: “Matters of Mind and Media” includes essays that use psychoanalytic and cognitive psychology to shed light on how Rodriguez’s films complicate Latino identity, as well as how they succeed in remaking audiences’ preconceptions of the world. “Narrative Theory, Cognitive Science, and Sin City: A Case Study” offers tools and models of analysis for the study of Rodriguez’s film re-creation of a comic book (on which Frank Miller was credited as codirector). “Aesthetic and Ontological Border Crossings and Borderlands” considers how Rodriguez’s films innovatively critique fixed notions of Latino identity and experience, as well as open eyes to racial injustices. As a whole, the volume demonstrates how Rodriguez’s career offers critical insights into the filmmaking industry, the creative process, and the consuming and reception of contemporary film.
Aldama’s done it again! With Critical Approaches he brings together preeminent scholars
of film and popular culture to throw wide open the portals into understanding Rodriguez’s
rich and bountiful cinematic world. Profoundly responsive to Rodriguez’s artistic vision and
practice, the groundbreaking scholarship herein powerfully undercuts all those misguided
judgments about Latino cultural production. Critical Approaches will certainly cement
Rodriguez as at once an entertainer of the first order and as a dissonant creator who
radically carves out new experiential spaces for Latinos today and tomorrow.
Aldama’s Critical Approaches is like a film itself! Picture it: over the Western
horizon rides a talented posse of wily vaqueros y vaqueras, like some ridiculously
over-talented, ivory-tower-ensconced version of The Magnificent Seven—only there are twelve
of them and running lead, the lucky thirteenth, Prof/Caballero Aldama. They are packing
six-shooters with sharp piercing intellectual ammo: Kim’s cognitive dynamite, Serrato’s
mighty boogers, Hogan’s deft palette, Anderson’s whiptastic noir, Eighan’s nasty
multimodalities, González’s mighty intertextuality, García’s randy miscegenation, Ingle’s
fraught frontera, Donahue’s social mind reading, Stavans’s probing paradigms—with Saldívar
and Fojas there too, riding shotgun. Before they ride off into the sunset, this rambunctious
posse of cultural critics holds forth and lays bare the complexity of our great cineaste of
the Americas, Robert Rodriguez. Buy this book. Teach this book. Or else, pardner—you’ll be
messing with the magnificent trece, ese!
This lively collection investigates the broad range of Rodriguez’s output, from his
explosive action flicks, to his hurly-burly children’s adventures, to his groundbreaking
cinematic comic-book revamp, Sin City. Uniformly informative, insightful, and engaging,
these analyses are as ingenious, varied, and entertaining as the films themselves.
The complex cinematic work of Robert Rodriguez finally gets its comprehensive due.
Moving from El Mariachi to Sin City and crossing audience reception, content, and
production, Aldama pulls together the most cutting-edge scholars in the field to
provocatively map out Rodriguez’s significance to the study of film generally and Latina/o
film specifically. If you love to watch, examine, and make film—it’s an absolute
University Distinguished Scholar at the Ohio State University, where he founded and directs
LASER/Latino and Latin American Space for Enrichment and Research. His many books include
Analyzing World Fiction: New Horizons in Narrative Theory, Your Brain on Latino Comics: From
Gus Arriola to Los Bros Hernandez, and Toward a Cognitive Theory of Narrative Acts.
Rodriguez's Cinema of Possibilities: An Introduction (Frederick Luis Aldama)
Matters of Mind and Media
One. From El Mariachi till Spy Kids? A Cognitive Approach (Sue J. Kim)
Two. You've Come a Long Way, Booger Breath: Juni Cortez Grows Up in the Spy Kids Films (Phillip Serrato)
Narrative Theory, Cognitive Science, and Sin City: A Case Study
Three. Painterly Cinema: Three Minutes of Sin City (Patrick Colm Hogan)
Four. Sin City, Style, and the Status of Noir (Emily R. Anderson)
Five. Sin City, Hybrid Media, and a Cognitive Narratology of Multimodality (Erin E. Eighan)
Aesthetic and Ontological Border Crossings and Borderlands
Six. Intertextploitation and Post-Post-Latinidad in Planet Terror (Christopher González)
Seven. Planet Terror Redux: Miscegenation and Family Apocalypse (Enrique García)
Eight. The Border Crossed Us: Machete and the Latino Threat Narrative (Zachary Ingle)
Nine. The Development of Social Minds in the "Mexico Trilogy" (James J. Donahue)
It's a Wrap
Ten. Tarantino Rodriguez: A Paradigm (Ilan Stavans)
Eleven. Five Amigos Crisscross Borders on a Road Trip with Rodriguez (Frederick Luis Aldama, Samuel Saldívar, Christopher González, Sue J. Kim, and Camilla Fojas)
Afterword. Postproduction in Robert Rodriguez's "Post-Post-Latinidad" (Alvaro Rodriguez)
Notes on Contributors
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