Cleaning Out my Film Rentals. #7 Inmate #1. The Rise of Danny Trejo.

Danny Trejo is one of the most fascinating figures in the acting world. Not necessarily for his ability or the string of direct video action movies in which he typically appears but for his incredible life story starting out as a career criminal on the streets of Los Angeles before being incarcerated in some of the world’s toughest prisons and getting a chance foothold in the acting world. The rest as they say is history. This is prime material for a solid documentary and Brett Harvey’s film doesn’t disappoint. Could it be accused of being a little bit narcissistic with a number of Trejos collaborators popping up to talk about how great he is. Definitely. That said Harvey makes the strong choice to have the film mostly focus on telling the story in his own words and this pays off in spades. He’s such an engaging, likeable and candid screen presence the the film is always hugely engrossing even in the sections in which Trejo drives around admiring the places he grew up as if he’s in the video for Nickelbacks Photograph. The sections on Trejos criminal life fair better than those on his movie career but the later do offer a strong case study in unorthodox movie stardom. the film is made with clear love and affection but it doesn’t sugar-coat any of the tougher elements of this story hitting just the right balance seen in the best documentaries. If viewers are interested in documentaries about stardom this is a hugely engaging and often inspiring watch. 


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