Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top Ten: Antonio Banderas

Happy 50th birthday to Everyone's Favorite Spaniard™* Antonio Banderas.

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.

23 comments:

Joe said...

I have to admit, I like Pedro and Antonio better than Penelope and Pedro. Just barely.

chris na Taraja said...

Seriously, Why wasn't Antonio cast in the film version of NINE. Unlike many other broadway divas who lose their role to famous movie stars, he was a famous movie star appearing on Broadway.

I saw it. I don't like the show all that much, but he was really great. You don't need a law to make me love him.

par3182 said...

Benítez was a dangerously unstable, often naked, highly annoying young man but Antonio played him superbly

and that is why 'law of desire should be #1

Shay said...

Antonio IS fun in Spy Kids. Not a huge role, but he's good in it.

Jude said...

Why did anyone from the Broadway cast get removed for the film version of Nine? Penelope Cruz can try (and try she does) but Jane owns that role...

And why is Antonio married to Melanie Griffith? Along with Matthew Fox, he's one of those famous, attractive actors that's twenty times sexier than his wife.

pomme said...

i'm happy Pedro reteams with him!

jazz said...

Nathaniel. i do love love the Antonio top ten.
No Armand from interview with the vampire? haha
top ten + 1

jazz said...

OH OH WAIT!!!

The freaky neon hair Nathaniel from Women on the Verge of a nervous breakdown.

ok top 12.

Terry said...

I'm not even a big fan of musicals, but I had no prob with Nine. The people I went to it with liked it too. I never got the " it's cool " to bash Nine.
And I also thought DDL was good as Guido. Esepcially the straight acting parts. I saw Antonino's Guido on youtbe and I didn'think it was so much more better than Day-Lewis. Just my two cents.

Mirko said...

I'm not such a great fan, but I'm pleased he will come back working with Almodovar in a movie I'm very curious about (it will be loosely based upon a quite intriguing novel, Thierry Jonquet's Mygale). and recently Pedro managed a reunion quite well (Carmen Maura in VOLVER), so I'm confident about his new collaboration with el guapo Antonio

Dan said...

...as these films suggest, he has a lot more range than many given him credit for.

NATHANIEL R said...

DAN -- that he does. i think part of the problem was that he kept working in English rather than switching it up (as Penelope was wise to do)

JOE --it's just such fun novelty at the very least. Pedro's only male muse really.

CHRIS -- I dont' get it either. DDL isn't exactly known for being "bankable"

JAZZ -- i don't like the way they transferred that character or the changes to that storyline or the wig ;)

TERRY -- i don't like bashing NINE either (at least it was trying!) but DDL for me was wrong for the part

MIRKO -- is that worth a read? i wonder if there's an english translation?

Alex in Movieland said...

since when is The Mask of Zorro a 1995 film?...

and since when does a gay have the right to dislike Philadelphia (1993)?...


:) really

cal roth said...

He is a fine director, too. His two movies are quite nice.

NATHANIEL R said...

Alex -- corrected. oops.
but you're kidding about PHILADELPHIA right? Please tell me you're kidding.

Bia said...

I actually think Original Sin is one of Angelina's best performances. It's a must-see, weird film...

cal roth said...

@Bia Try Catherine Deneuve in the same role, ice-cold-sexy-sick in Mississipi Mermaid. This remake is meh.

NATHANIEL R said...

it's so strange to me that i never saw it. Curse my overcrowded rental queue

adelutza said...

Sorry cal roth but Mississippi Mermaid is a bore. Original Sin much more entertaining as much as I love Catherine Deneuve.

cal roth said...

I love Mississipi Mermaid. Everytime Truffaut tried his hand at Hitchcockian themes we've got these complex movies about sex and obsession, with the difference Truffaut has a loose style of direction. It's Hitchcock minus that strong control of "mise en scene". Very intriguing.

And I don't get bored at all. Love the way Truffaut make this game work. Deneuve may love the guy in the end, but still will try to poison him. She knows what she's doing but can't help it. There's a fascinating line in the end: "I am learning to love, and that is painful". What do you do and you are a sociopath and then you got love someone you have hurt and still will hurt because you feel into?

This movie is so complicated and Deneuve is astonishing. Onde of her 5 best performances.

I think Truffaut is very undervalued today. When you see his movies again, you do realize he is not romantic at all. Love is a sickness, from La Peau Douce to Adele H. and The Woman Next Door. All his women are a little crazy, and that's why he is responsible for some of the best female roles we've ever seen. They say Truffaut felt in love for all his actresses, and that's why his camera also loved all of them. from La Peau Douce to Adele H. and The Woman Next Door. All his women are a little crazy, and that's why he is responsible for some of the best female roles we've ever seen. They say Truffaut felt in love for all his actresses, and that's why his camera also loved all of them.a loose style of direction. It's Hitchcock minus that strong control of "mise en scene". Very intriguing.

And I don't get bored at all. Love the way Truffaut make this game work. Deneuve may love the guy in the end, but still will try to poison him. She knows what she's doing but can't help it. There's a fascinating line in the end: "I am learning to love, and that is painful". What do you do and you are a sociopath and then you got love someone you have hurt and still will hurt because you feel into?

This movie is so complicated and Deneuve is astonishing. Onde of her 5 best performances.

I think Truffaut is very undervalued today. When you see his movies again, you do realize he is not romantic at all. Love is a sickness, from La Peau Douce to Adele H. and The Woman Next Door. All his women are a little crazy, and that's why he is responsible for some of the best female roles we've ever seen. They say Truffaut felt in love for all his actresses, and that's why his camera also loved all of them.

cal roth said...

Oh, boy, I can't do it without typos. Why? Why?

adelutza said...

:-) I love Truffaut as well, and I'd be the last person to say anything against Catherine Deneuve. But if just considering the "entertainment" level - which I know has completely different meanings for different people - for me Mississippi Mermaid didn't work . Not saying there aren't things in it to take pleasure with. But , for me, as a whole, original Sin took the point to home better.
Now having said said, I think Banderas is at his best with Almodovar, but I've read your opinion about Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown and I'm not going to bring that up again ;-)

adelutza said...

Ditto about typos