Antonio Banderas

Mel Gibson

You gotta hand it to Mel Gibson – he might have said horrific things about his ex-girlfriend and almost every minority under the sun, but he just keeps chugging along. The actor seems to have embraced his now-repugnant public image by taking villainous roles in both Robert Rodriguez’ Machete Kills and, as was announced today, The Expendables 3. Joining the cast alongside Gibson is Antonio Banderas, who Sylvester Stallone referred to as “a consummate actor and a gentleman” in a clear shot at Bruce Willis, who reportedly dropped out because he wasn’t getting paid enough. If the “old man action movie” trend is to continue (and as long as Stallone is still breathing, it probably will), at least The Expendables series understands that these movies should be big dumb tongue-in-cheek fun. And that’s exactly what Expendables 3 is shaping up to be: a great big party for every action star under the sun (minus Bruce Willis) to hang out, spew one-liners, and make things explode.

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Anyone who saw last year’s surgical horror story, The Skin I Live In, knows that director Pedro Almodóvar can pull a first-rate performance out of Antonio Banderas, which makes sense, seeing as they’ve been working together for over 20 years. And anyone who has seen Almodóvar’s starring vehicles for Penélope Cruz, like Volver or Broken Embraces, can give similar compliments to his relationship with that actress. Almodóvar is a filmmaker who knows how to get the best out of the people he’s working with. But what he’s never been able to do is direct Banderas and Cruz together in the same movie. As a matter of fact, even though they’re maybe the two most famous Spanish actors of the last two decades, up until this point nobody has been able to get them both to appear in the same film. That’s all set to change come Almodóvar’s latest project, however. His new film is a comedy called The Standby Lovers that’s about a plane full of people who reveal their most guarded secrets to one another when the aircraft starts to go down. In addition to Banderas and Cruz (whose official involvement we reported on yesterday), the film is also said to include an all-star cast of Spanish actors including Javier Cámara, Guillermo Toledo, Raúl Arévalo, Hugo Silva, Cecilia Roth, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Blanca Suárez, José María Yazik and Antonio de la Torre. That’s a lot of Spanish-sounding names.

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The absolute worst thing you could say about Steven Soderbergh’s latest film is that its lead, Gina Carano, is consistently out-acted by Channing Tatum. On its surface and for obvious reasons that’s a pretty damning statement. But when viewed as a whole performer instead of just an actress you quickly realize that Carano has a very particular set of other skills. Skills she has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make her a nightmare for people like Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and other male stars with recognizably pretty faces. A nightmare for them, but entertaining as hell for the rest of us.

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Aural Fixation - Large

Audiences have been eagerly awaiting the release of soon-to-be retired (or so was once widely claimed) Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, Haywire, after advanced screenings confirmed what the trailer suggested – a literally kick-ass time at the movies. Starring a Hollywood unknown, Gina Carano is known more for her mixed martial arts skills and those skills are put to the test on the big screen as she goes up against a powerful boys club comprised of the likes of Channing Tatum, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, and Michael Fassbender. Playing a black ops solider betrayed by her company, Carano is forced to not only figure out why she was double crossed, but do so while trying to keep herself from being killed in the process (and leaving an impressive body count of her own in her wake.) Soderbergh turned to composer David Holmes to create the musical landscape for a film that is not only action-packed, but also dramatic, thrilling, emotional, even funny at times and overall – fun. But what made this film such a fun time at the movies? Many factors of course (the story, the actors, the direction), but the element that seemed to keep this idea of playfulness running throughout was provided by the score, and almost subconsciously so. Holmes is no stranger to scoring a film that flips the script every other scene and forces the audience to not only try and keep up with the action, but unravel the truth behind the story as well. He […]

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Moving away from the feature-length hand sanitizer commercial that was this year’s Contagion, director Steven Soderbergh returns to the screen with another one of his trademark all-star cast outings, but one with significantly more ass-kicking delivered at the hands (and feet) of a particularly-picked leading lady. In Haywire, Soderbergh lets loose cinematic newcomer Gina Carano, a real-life MMA fighter who can more than hold her own with the boys club that rounds out the film’s cast (including Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, Michael Fassbender, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, and Bill Paxton). Packaged as a double-crossing spy thriller, Haywire is big on impressive and crowd-pleasing fight scenes, but the film fizzles when it comes to delivering a particularly clever story for all those flying fists to play out against. The meat of Haywire’s plot is just a standard double-cross story that’s pumped up with the sort of stylistic flash and flair that Soderbergh can deliver handily. Carano plays a highly skilled ex-Marine who now works in the “private sector” on black ops jobs that involves messy endeavors like extraction and assassination. Carano’s Mallory Kane is very good at her job, good enough that she’s often a special request (an “essential element”) for a number of her company’s various contracts, a fact that irks her boss and ex-flame Kenneth (McGregor). Mallory is dispatched for an extraction job in Barcelona that goes well enough, but her performance there directly leads into her next job, a gig that’s ostensibly presented as glorified babysitting, done in […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr puts on some 3D glasses to look at some puss… in boots, that is. He proceeds to rewrite fairy tale fiction to include more bodily function humor, an egg-shaped Zach Galifianakis and a hairy but still sexy Salma Hayek. Then, he heads to the reference department of his local library to discover who really wrote the complete works of William Shakespeare. When all signs point to Neil Miller as the real author, Kevin gives up, realizing he’s out of time. So he brings sexy back and heads out to kidnap Amanda Seyfried so he can occupy Hollywood and start a revolution together… or get arrested.

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The tale of Puss In Boots is not all swordplay and adventure-seeking, Puss is also a lover (yeah – it gets a little weird) and his boots were not just made for walking, they were made for dancing too. From the opening guitar riffs, Puss In Boots has a frenetic energy that keeps the story moving and reminds you that beyond the innuendos and back-story, Puss truly is (and will always be) an adventurer at heart. Composer Henry Jackman (Winnie The Pooh, X-Men: First Class) takes the reigns for this spin-off (the previous Shrek films having been scored by Harry Gregson-Williams) creating a Latin-infused score that also utilizes full-bodied orchestration to keep the feel and sound of a grand adventure. Jackman has created a score that is reminiscent of classic animated features with the music underscoring the action on screen. The music swells as the group takes off on a chase (“Chasing Tail”) and tip toes as they are trying to sneak around undetected (“Kitty-Cat Break-Out”). But Jackman’s score also feels very modern and keeps up with the 3D animation featured on screen. Puss (Antonio Banderas) is a Spaniard (naturally) and as such, the score features Latin guitars and percussion you cannot help but tap your feet to. To create the authentic Latin sound, Jackman tapped Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and their impressive guitar playing is featured on “Diablo Rojo.” The music is infectious and causes you to feel torn between wanting to duel, or dance. But have […]

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Finally, a supporting character from the Shrek franchise who earned their chops the hard way, enduring arduous animated battles and even more arduous stunt voice casting, has gotten a film of their very own, a fuzzy family affair that will make the whole brood giggle. No, sadly, it’s not those adorable flying Donkey-Dragon babies (trivia! Wikipedia tells me they are named Debbie, Coco, Bananas, Peanut, Parfait, and Éclair), but it’s Dreamworks’s own answer to “what would Zorro be like if he was, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, actually a cat?” That’s Puss in Boots to you, amigo. Antonio Banderas returns to the role he originated, a Zorro-meets-French-fairy-tale feline famous for stealing both bullion and babes. But what if Puss was, gasp, not a criminal at all, but a misunderstood kitty desperate to return to the mother he loves, a innocent cat framed for a crime he didn’t commit, a bipedal boot-wearing bad boy who is quietly concealing a heart of gold? What if then? Well, you’re about to find out.

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For what’s looking to be the last official programming announcement from this year’s AFI FEST presented by Audi, the fest has revealed their special film retrospective as curated by Guest Artistic Director Pedro Almodóvar. The filmmaker has put together a program of five films (including one of his own) to form an essential cross-section of horror films and thrillers. Almodóvar’s picks include his own Law of Desire, saying that the film is “a fundamental title in my career…I don’t think I’d change a single shot, and not because it’s perfect but because I recognize myself in all of them…It’s true that my palette has darkened and, in the case of the latest film, the humor has almost disappeared. Fortunately I’ve changed sufficiently so that no one can accuse me of repeating myself, but I’m still the same.” The film’s screening will take place on Monday, November 7, and Almodóvar and star Antonio Banderas (also the star of that “latest film” Almodóvar mentions, the magnetic The Skin I Live In) will introduce the film, and it will be followed by a “conversation” about the auteur’s career. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting this Thursday, October 27). Even with parking fees in Hollywood, that’s still cheaper than a movie ticket. The complete schedule grid is now online for […]

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Creating the world of a disturbed, yet brilliant, plastic surgeon harboring more than one secret is no easy task, but director Pedro Almodóvar rises to the challenge with his beautiful and haunting film, The Skin I Live In. An equal challenge was that of creating the music for this world to keep up with the story’s various twists and turns. From the frenetic strings that draw us in at the beginning of the film to the final piano refrain, composer Alberto Iglesias’s score helps create a world that refuses to let you, much like the mysterious woman trapped in the doctor’s home, out until the film’s very last frame. I spoke with Iglesias about the process of working with Almodóvar on this film, the challenges of expressing the emotion in scenes with little to no dialogue and how sometimes, an ax is an equally important part of the composing process as any instrument. (English is not Iglesias’s first language so please keep that in mind as you read his responses.)

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Great personal tragedies have the uncanny ability to leave a mark on those they touch – but Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In takes that concept to frightening new levels, mixing in healing with horror, pleasure with pain, and medical advancements with mental illness. The film centers on Antonio Banderas as gifted doctor Robert Ledgard, a reclusive type who does something out of his in-home clinic in a secluded section of Spain. Whatever type of medicine Robert publicly practices, we are not privy to it for some time (a reveal that proves key later in the story), but we are let in on his secrets almost immediately. Ruined by the tragic demises of both his wife and daughter, Robert has withdrawn into a different field of work – crafting a new type of human skin that is, in a sense, unbreakable. The skin is spliced from human skin and pig skin, meant to withstand heat and cold, to heal quickly, to show no signs of violence no matter what is inflicted on it. And while this is a noble (and understandable, given his past losses) pursuit, there’s one small piece of Robert’s plan that sets it apart – he’s lying when he tells the medical community that he needs to test it on human subjects. Because he already has. And she’s locked up in his home.

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Antonio Banderas and Cats

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s about to get a little strange, that’s what it is… We begin tonight with… yes, a picture of Antonio Banderas and a few cats. This should serve as an official warning that tonight’s entry into the Movie News After Dark series may get a little silly. Mr. Banderas recently participated in a “Cat Premiere” of Puss in Boots at the Paramount Lot in LA. I can haz movie premiere? Si, mis amigos. Si.

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It’s Unofficial Pedro Almodóvar Day here at FSR! Everyone, join me as I celebrate in the traditional way – by throwing teeny, tiny bits of Penelope Cruz-shaped confetti in the air and watching Antonio Banderas manufacture fake skin. Wait, is that not how you celebrate your Unofficial Pedro Almodóvar Days? That’s about to change. On the heels of AFI FEST announcing Almodóvar as their Guest Artistic Director for this year’s festival, the trailer for the filmmaker’s next film, The Skin I Live In, has debuted online. The film bowed at Cannes to some mixed reactions, though our own Simon saw the film at the fest and bestowed on it an “A” review, noting that the work mixes some classic Almodóvar hallmarks into a film that, at first glance, just plain doesn’t sound like a typical Almodóvar film. But The Skin I Live In sure does sound like an out-of-the-box choice for the auteur, starring Banderas as a doctor who may be tortured on the inside, but who is on the verge of a medical breakthrough, creating a superskin that can be transplanted on to damaged skin. And maybe more…? The film’s trailer is a touch tedious, broken up with title cards that hint at some of the different types of people who inhabit the world (or, as it were, the film’s world), followed by glimpses at some of those supposed types of people. But some of those people seem to cross over various types, and that’s part of the intrigue of […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr flexes his rippling muscles and sets out to live a warrior lifestyle, just like Jason Momoa in Conan the O’Barbarian. But before he can do that, he has to drive a stake through his neighbor’s heart, since he’s certain he lives next door to a vampire. What else could all those sparkles be about? Meanwhile, he sends his kids off to a dangerous 3D, Aroma-Vision mission, hoping they can make it as real spy kids so they can teach him to put on a fake British accent and woo a not-quite-British Anne Hathaway.

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Yet again I find myself sitting in the dark waiting for one of my most anticipated films of this year’s Cannes film festival, and am met with a chorus of coughs ringing around the screen. Here’s a thought – if you are allergic to either a) the dark or b) the cinema, maybes it’s time you stopped going. It sounds like a bloody Victorian bronchitis convention every time the lights go down… Anyway, The Skin I Live In (also known as The Skin That I Inhabit, depending on how you translate the original Spanish title), is the latest in this year’s auteur-focused Competition line-up, and thanks to both director Pedro Almodovar‘s assertions that he set out to make a horror “without screams or frights” and his reunion with sometime muse Antonio Banderas, this one sat at the top table in terms of anticipation. Warning, there be a few spoilers below, though I have tried to avoid as many as possible. But like Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, such is the nature of the film that some hints are a necessity.

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Like all good advertising should, the trailer for The Big Bang works as a pretty epic little ride all by itself. During it’s first moments it feels like you’re being plopped right down in a moody detective story. All of the elements are there; some missing diamonds, a missing girl. It seems like an advertisement for a pretty straightforward film. But then things start getting weird. You’ve got an underground military compound that looks like the hadron collider, Snoop Dogg directing pornos, Sam Elliott with a ridiculously long head of hair extensions, and a lot of heady talk about the origins of the universe. The story seems like some sort of marriage of the works of Elmore Leonard and Tom Robbins. And this is all crammed in to just 2 minutes of footage. I can’t imagine the weird places the film must go given its entire runtime; but now I want to. And that’s the key to crafting a good film trailer, capturing people’s imaginations.

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kevin-reportcard-header

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr hands out grades to Shrek: The Final Chapter 3D, MacGruber and Human Centipede.

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‘Shrek Forever After’ offers conclusive proof that the franchise has run out of steam.

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Yesterday saw a flurry of trailer debuts, including the first Iron Man 2 trailer and the newish Clash of the Titans trailer (which I will be posting with comments shortly). Today, we get the first trailer for Shrek Forever After. That makes one point for yesterday, zero points for today.

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ZachGalifianakisPussinBoots

The beard enthusiast (and sometimes actor) is in talks to voice Humpty Dumpty. Beats getting high and agreeing to G-Force.

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published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+
published: 12.05.2014
C+


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