In 1992, a young American filmmaker named Robert Rodriguez spent the princely sum of $7,000 on his debut picture El Mariachi. Now, every creative mind will dream that their product will make a splash at the top table, but, in El Mariachi’s case, it really did. A deal with Columbia Pictures and $2 MILLION DOLLARS in box office receipts sounds like one hell of a success to me. Not just that, the movie was recognised by Guinness World Records for its box office achievements and the National Film Registry for its significance in filmmaking. From there, Rodriguez has gone on to direct movies such as Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City, and the upcoming Alita: Battle Angel.

 

All that from splashing $7k.

Now, Rodriguez has given other filmmakers the opportunity to do just what he did. When Rebel Without a Crew debuted on the El Rey network, budding filmmakers were given the chance to produce their own movies – the catch being that they have the same budget and restrictions (the finished movies must be completed within two weeks) that Rodriguez had all those years ago whilst making El Mariachi. One of those movies was Monday, directed by Alejandro Montoya Marin and I’ve been lucky enough to catch it ahead of its premiere on February 18th.

 

The word Monday sends a shiver down my spine. The start of the working week, the day that gives people nightmares worldwide. Marin’s Monday takes this idea and amplifies it. Jim (played by Jamie H. Jung) is a layabout with a penchant for pot and his Monday is going as well as most other Mondays – i.e. not very. His girlfriend has ditched him and so has his employer, so it’s fair to say Jim has probably had better Monday’s. When he is dragged into a turf war between warring drug cartels, it would seem that his day had hit its negative zenith, until the female assassins pulling his strings reveal they are wanting to assassinate one of the cartel’s leaders – and Jim is the one who will be taking the fall. So far, so good.

Led by Jung and Kenneth McGlothin – who portrays Jim’s best buddy, Paul – Monday is a very decent flick regardless of its budget. For the most part, it’s not always clear or noticeable that you’re watching a movie with next to no budget, Marin and team have managed to create a slick looking movie – and an action movie at that which has its share of set pieces and explosions. That’s generally the sign of a filmmaker with a flair for his craft and Monday is well-shot and paced well for its hour-long duration. Technically speaking, Monday is a great achievement (that’s without mentioning the ace soundtrack).

Jung and McGlothin are excellent together, their chemistry is solid and the humour they generate between them feels authentic. Independent movies can fall foul of performances that aren’t always great or to the level of others within the movie and, to be fair, Monday also suffers from this. There aren’t any performances which are bad, just out of place. For example, Anna Schatte’s assassin – whom I suspect is performing directly from the page and not entirely comfortably – seems to have come from a different movie which can, at times, feel jarring. There are some issues with the writing also, though nothing here is a deal breaker and the experiences brought will only enhance future projects.

 

In terms of a debut offering, Monday is extremely solid in its technical ability and lead casting choices. There are issues, of course, but realistically speaking, doesn’t every movie suffer in some way? However, a movie shouldn’t necessarily be given a pass because of its restrictions/circumstances. Overall, Monday is more than worth a watch and I’m pretty sure you’ll be just as entertained as I was.

 

Can Alejandro Montoya Marin be the next Robert Rodriguez? Who knows, there’s every chance and a show like Rebel Without a Crew only helps to enhance young filmmakers prospects of breaking into the industry and being a success. If you’re into indie flicks or film in general, show your support and check out Monday when it hits your TV screen.

 

Having premiered worldwide at 2018’s SXSW Festival, Monday will have its television debut on February 18th on the El Rey network and VOD.

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January 21st 2019

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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