Thursday, 15 April 2010
First Look: The Sentimental Engine Slayer
This June, The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) will be screening The Sentimental Engine Slayer (2009) directed by Omar Rodríguez-López, Grammy Award-winning songwriter and guitarist of The Mars Volta and At The Drive In.
The Sentimental Engine Slayer
Rodríguez-López has two other films in post-production but The Sentimental Engine Sayer is the first to screen publicly. It premiered at the 2010 International Film Festival Rotterdam and has been selected for The Tribeca Film Festival 2010.
Rodríguez-López not only directed but also wrote, produced and scored The Sentimental Engine Slayer as well as starred in it as the film's protagonist, Barlam. Filmed entirely on location in the director's hometown of El Paso, Texas, in late 2007, the film features contributions from John Frusciante (ex-Red Hot Chilli Peppers) as well as Rodríguez-López's parents, brother and long time friend, Nomar Rizo as Oscar.
Rodríguez-López describes the process as a labour of love on a budget "The Sentimental Engine Slayer was made with a relatively small amount of money. The cast and crew of the film occupied a modest suburban home together for a month quite literally living on top of one another so that the film could be conjured into existence."
The film is also deliberately bi-lingual as Rodríguez-López believes that American films do not reflect the multicultural reality of their own country accurately. "Nowhere on the globe is the culture of film so predominantly white and English-oriented as in the United States, a fact I find astonishing considering the cultural melting pot that this country actually is, and the reality of the lives of millions of Americans."
The Sentimental Engine Slayer follows the overdue coming of age of a young misfit named Barlam (Rodríguez-López) as he descends into a shadowy world of misplaced violence, sexual experimentation and nightmarish anomaly. Obsessed with his parent's divorce and involved in a warped relationship with his drug-addicted sister, Natalia (played by Tatiana Velazquez), he seeks advice from the few male peers available to him - his alcoholic boss, Oscar (Nomar Rizo) and his sister's simple-minded boyfriend Zack (Kim Stodel). Barlam is soon led astray by his pseudo family of friends into a seedy underworld of prostitutes, hustlers and addicts. As he falls prey to psychosis, the line between fantasy and reality becomes increasingly blurred as one become indistinguishable from the other.
Rodríguez-López is a prolific recording artist whose genre-defying 15-year career has resulted in some 35 albums. His seminal and critically acclaimed bands, At the Drive-In and Mars Volta have redefined popular rock music. In the last few years Rodríguez-López began filmmaking, familiarising himself with the process by way of producing two unreleased films (2001's Manual Dexterity and 2003's Letters from Dystopia) in lieu of formal training. The Sentimental Engine Slayer is his third film and debut feature release.
"The Sentimental Engine Slayer is a bold, creative fury of a film." Film Programmer, Kristy Matheson says, "Psychedelic and intense, it messes with time and space, featuring a blistering soundtrack and leaving audiences to piece together Rodríguez-López awesome distorted reality and ponder the fate of Barlam."
With a striking original score and startling images, lensed through the dusty, drug-addled haze of El Paso, The Sentimental Engine Slayer is an evocative cinematic experience and confirms Rodríguez-López as a new filmic force to be reckoned with.
The Sentimental Engine Slayer plays as part of ACMI's First Look program from Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 June. For sessions details please visit: http://www.acmi.net.au/.
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