How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Because it's Friday: 'Machete'

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I16020r--oM&feature=related

I'm not a fan of gore by any means, but I can't wait to see this film. Any movie that is supposedly going to start a race war, according to one radio talk-show host, is something I have to see.

The film, which opens nationwide today, stars veteran Danny Trejo, he of the deeply etched facial skin and stringy long hair, as former Mexican cop who fled the cartels and now works as a day laborer in Texas. He is hired to assassinate a brazenly anti-immigrant senator (played by Robert De Niro), but the assassination goes awry and all hell breaks loose.

It has been lovingly labeled as "Mexploitation" by its director, Robert Rodriguez, a spinoff of a fake trailer in Rodriguez's earlier film "Grindhouse" that promises to be equally liberal with the blood and guts (at one point, the hero is said to escape from a hospital using tripas - yes, intestines - for rope). And while all I've seen are the trailers, the film appears to laugh at itself the entire way through.

So back to the race war: In May, radio talk-show host Alex Jones announced in a tense video that "I would say it is a 90 percent change right now. It is going to trigger racial riots and racial killings in the United States." The video made the rounds online, prompting more speculation and other videos.

Hmmm. Well, the movie is set against the tense political backdrop of the immigration debate, with villains that include De Niro's nativist pol and a vigilante played by Don Johnson. And at one point, a federal border agent/much-younger love interest (Jessica Alba) shouts "We didn't cross the border, the border crossed us!" And yes, a few months ago, after the initial passage of Arizona's SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law, there was an early trailer released, introduced by a growling Trejo with "a special Cinco de Mayo message - to Arizona!" (Which Jones, in his video, takes issue with.)

But a race war? Aside from the action and the carnage, "Machete," from what I've seen in trailers and read in reviews, comes across as tongue-in-cheek mockery of a vociferous political battle that, frankly, at times lately has seemed a bit circus-like. What better vehicle for a little much-needed levity than an intentionally cheesy action-gore flick? Some many not have gotten the joke, but I think most will.

And if we do wake up tomorrow to looters and mobs wielding torches (would it go down in history as the Machete Riots?), hopefully, there will not be any actual machetes involved.

Anyway, time to cue the Sublime. Have a good weekend.


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