August 26th: Flight of the Power Chords

Iron Maiden

175. Iron Maiden: Flight 666 (Sam Dunn, Scot McFadyen)

When rock bands form they tend to gather a group of hungry young men desperate to take on the world and shout in its face. Along the way they usually drink and screw until their brains are addled and they need a rest. When a band is successful, like Iron Maiden, they tend to calm down over time until they lose the passion for doing it. This is what makes this documentary following the band on their 2008 tour such a curious dichotomy. The band is made up of a group of men who really aren’t that interesting, they certainly don’t do anything interesting whilst they are on tour – they are quite professional in that respect. The only drama occurs when drummer Nicko McBrain is hit by a golf ball and injures his arm. But it’s okay. He plays that evening.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Phew!

So the first 40/50 minutes of the film tell of the tour where they had a specially modified Boeing 757, called ‘Ed Force One’ after the band mascot, made in order to carry the crew and stage set-up. They travel to India, Australia, Japan and America and the tour is essentially quite boring. These guys bring their families on the flight and struggle with a bit of jet lag but for the most part they make sure that they deliver on stage and give the people what they want – an Iron Maiden show.

Then, finally, the tour arrives in South America and things go more than a little crazy. This is the heart of the film, in countries like Costa Rica and Columbia being an Iron Maiden fan is more like a religion and the fans are devoted unlike any other. It’s the footage of these fans that is really affecting. In Columbia, a country with a very repressive military regime, one fan catches one of Nicko McBrain’s drumsticks. He’d been waiting all his life to see Iron Maiden and he had a unique souvenir in his hands. After the concert finished he was still stood, crying his eyes out and clutching the drumstick. At that point a comment from one of the Costa Rican fans was put into relief, claiming that hearing the band for the first time was mindblowing and that he thought he’d never see them because he lived in the ‘armpit of the world’. In this country Iron Maiden are something of a joke, no airplay, no media coverage and aside from last years Brit Award for ‘Best Live Act’ very little critical appreciation whatsoever. In other parts of the world Iron Maiden represent something else entirely, something we can’t really understand. This films gives a brief glimpse at that, for half an hour it is a fascinating look at what impact a band from Britain can have across the globe. For the rest of the time it’s a little bit dull, unless you like watching Iron Maiden play live – which luckily I do quite like.

August 24th: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

el_mariachi_01

174. El Mariachi (Robert Rodriguez, 1992)

Arguments and doubts exist over how much El Mariachi cost to make, Rodriguez says $7000 and who are we to argue? The American cinema prints may have had thousands of dollars spent on them but this is still a testament to ultra-low budget film-making. Carlos Gallardo is the Mariachi, a travelling guitar player who is mistaken for a rampaging killer who stores his guns in a guitar case. Cue the shenanigans as he falls for the local beauty, becomes a killer in self-defence and eventually faces the local criminal mastermind at the centre of the chaos.

There’s a raw urgency to everything in El Mariachi, fuelled by the budgetary constraints no doubt. It’s rough and ready viewing and served as the start of a faltering trilogy for Rodriguez with the excellent Desperado followed by the ultimately disappointing Once Upon a Time in Mexico. The process of making El Mariachi was described by Rodriguez as ‘practice’ and if it’s viewed as such then it can only be looked at as a success.

Note: El Mariachi is listed in the Neon book 1000 Essential Movies on Video under Really Cheap Movies.