Film bits and bobs
First published by Grolsch FilmWorks
These days, going back has once again become passé. Back in 2006, when Ernesto Díaz Espinoza debuted with his Chile-flavoured Eighties action/martial arts throwback Kiltro, its absurdist genre mashup seemed utterly charming, even novel – but now, in the wake of the Tarantino-Rodriguez Grindhouse double-feature (2007), postmodern ‘guilty pleasure’ revivals are a dime a dozen, which is why much of the sheen has come off Espinoza’s latest knowingly daft genre-blender.
The title obviously pays homage to Sam Peckinpah’s hyperviolent scuzzfest Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) but even before Espinoza’s DJ protagonist Santiago (Matías Oviedo) has had time to say to his friend of a new videogame, “I knew you’d like it, it’s just like GTA”, viewers will have worked out that a key reference point for both the look and structure of this film is the Grand Theft Auto series (and I mean the videogame franchise, not Ron Howard’s 1977 film). When Santiago falls foul of Argentinian mobster Che Sausage (Jorge Alis), he offers to bring in Sausage’s ex-girlfriend, the fetish-fashioned kick-assassin Machine Gun Woman (Fernanda Urrejola) – and so his efforts to track her down are presented as a series of titled gaming ‘missions’ whose ‘success’ or ‘failure’ is similarly advertised, while the appearance of each new character is accompanied by an intertitle stating their name and the current price on their head.
It is similar, if less inventively witty, than the gaming motifs of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (2010), although the pattern of its stylisation, established very early in the picture, shows little variation, while the plot itself is too disposable to be very interesting in itself, and the action, though certainly bloody and hyperbolic, is also repetitive and somewhat undistinguished. So Bring Me The Head of the Machine Gun Woman runs out of steam long before its 75 minutes are over – although it does contain a particularly bizarre sex scene between Santiago and a bound, bullet-riddled Machine Gun Woman that is reminiscent of Cronenberg’s Crash as much as anything from Peckinpah. Let’s leave to the sociologists the suggestion that everyone in Chile’s capital (apart from Santiago’s beloved mother) is directly connected with organised crime or mercenary killing – but viewed in isolation from its social context, Espinoza’s film is like a game being played by somebody else.