He was already celebrating the big day yesterday in the port of Marbella with Melanie Griffith, the Mrs. Banderas. okay okay it was her birthday yesterday but we're not really fans [cough to put it mildly]. What is it with celebrities born a day apart getting married? Madonna & Sean did that, too!
Antonio has been fading from the limelight this past decade which is kind of a shame because he would have made a much better "Guido Contini" than Daniel Day-Lewis in Nine (2009) so why didn't he get the chance to help make it work onscreen (and make no mistake, he would have helped. You need a certain type in that role. DDL is many great things but is a charming cad really one of them?) But if you've been missing him, fear not. A mini-'Tonio revival is coming with the Broadway revival of Zorba the Greek on its way and (finally!) a reunion with the man who brought him to international fame, director Pedro Almodóvar for the movie called La Piel que Habito (The Skin I Live In) which supposedly begins shooting this month.
The Film Experience had planned a rather huge 50th celebration today in Antonio's honor, and figured to sneak in a little contemporary Angelina Jolie love via a trip back to their erotic romp Original Sin (2001) and maybe a collection of favorite photos and that sort of thing. Truth: I've never seen that erotic thriller. And why the hell not given that both of those movie stars know a thing or five-hundred about working their sexual mojo for the benefit of the camera. But plans... they do get away from you.
But since it's Tuesday, and I've been neglecting the top tens...
Ten Favorite Banderas Roles
10 "Miguel" in Philadelphia (1993)
I don't really care for the movie, Jonathan Demme's bizarrely toothless and middlebrow follow up to the stellar Silence of the Lambs, but what a boyfriend Banderas made. The movie's authenticity was always in question because it was readily apparent that Tom Hanks's lawyer had no desire to ever touch his Spanish hunk. Imagine having Miguel to yourself and never manhandling him? That's just... Well, it's actually against the law.
09 TBA: I'm reserving this spot for a second viewing of Matador, the only Almodóvar I've actively disliked. Maybe I missed something? And I've never seen Spy Kids. It's true. Is he fun in that?
08 "Zorro" in The Mask of Zorro (1998)
It's as if Banderas' ascendance forced Hollywood to remake it. He existed therefore the movie had to.
07 "Guido Contini" in Nine (Broadway revival)
I've written about Nine too much. I have not another word in me. From now on, I shall only hum the theme song.
06 "Puss in Boots" Shrek 2 (2004)
He's the one redeeming factor of this soulless behemoth franchise. Just hilarious and relentlessly charming. Oh, those eyes!!! Who can resist? I'm talking about the Puss but I totally get it if you were thinking about Tonio's brown orbs.
05 "El Mariarchi" in Desperado (1995)
<--- Cool guys don't look at explosions.
04 "Antonio Benítez" in Law of Desire (1987)
Benítez was a dangerously unstable, often naked, highly annoying young man but Antonio played him superbly. More importantly, this film was an early but substantial example of the difference between rising European actors and rising American fame-seekers. In the former case they generally understand that it's about serving the auteur, the character and the movie, not about working on your "image."
---> The truth telling image to your right is pilfered from this all time classic blogpost from Adam, a friend of The Film Experience.
Law of Desire is actually my favorite Almodóvar movie for personal nostalgia reasons. It's the second one I saw -- after the film that actually followed it Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown -- but the first I sought out because of the man behind the curtain. I was not disappointed.
03 "Ché" in Evita (1996)
02 "Antonio Banderas" in Madonna: Truth or Dare (1991)
Because this double feature captures the memorable Madonna thru-line of his international stardom so superbly. They made such a beautiful imaginary couple. At least Madonna thought so.
"I've been wanting to meet Antonio for years. I finally get to meet him and he's married. That's one of life's little fuck-overs."
____-Madonna aloud while sitting next to Antonio.
"I said 'Oh, this is such a disaster. He's married.' He goes 'Oh, in Spain it doesn't matter.' ...Is that man beautiful or what? There's got to be something wrong with him. He probably has a really small penis or something. Oh God. There has to be something wrong with him because nobody is that perfect."
____-Madonna to Nikki in the bathroom of Almodóvar's party
01 "Ricky" in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1990)
Almodóvar movies are often blessed with sexual heat (Last year's Broken Embraces is a recent example of the director's gift in this arena)... but there's virtually nothing in the Almodóvar collection that's hornier or hotter than Banderas and his prisoner, the sadly undervalued Victoria Abril, attempting to climax simultaneously in this NC-17 rated stockholm syndrome romance. Even better is the shockingly moving fully clothed moment later in the movie when... no, I shan't spoil the movie. See it.
This post is free. The price you pray for reading is a word or four about Antonio in the comments. Go!
*circa 1990s. Later Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz would war over the designation. They finally called it a draw and married.