Five Favorite Films with Antonio Banderas

The star of this week's The Code talks Fellini, Rob Marshall's Nine, direct-to-video movies and more.

Antonio BanderasWhile contemporary audiences might know him best as the swashbuckling Zorro, the gun-toting El Mariachi, or the voice of Shrek's furry friend, Puss in Boots (who's set to get his own spin-off film in 2012), Spanish native and Hollywood veteran Antonio Banderas got his start in the audacious films of art-house darling Pedro Almodovar (including Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Matador, and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown). Naturally, we were dying to see if Banderas' favorite films were as varied, and as controversial, as the movies in which he's starred -- and we weren't disappointed.

We were also curious to address a pricklier subject regarding movies and the artists who make them, no matter their audience. This week, Banderas, Morgan Freeman, and director Mimi Leder attempt to subvert a popular way of thinking in Hollywood with their heist thriller, The Code; namely, that "direct-to-DVD" doesn't necessarily equal "bad." In The Code, Banderas and Freeman play criminals who form a tenuous partnership in order to pull off a huge heist in New York City; gangsters, girls, double-crosses, and, yes, a room full of lasers provide familiar genre obstacles for the pair, who enjoy a smooth chemistry onscreen in a genre exercise that probably could have performed well in theaters in the '90s.

In this regard, Banderas is a happy pragmatist, and well aware of the difficulties (and values) of working outside of Hollywood on independent productions like The Code. "The work is what you do when you are acting," he told us, satisfied with the experience alone. "But that's the way it goes!"

Read on to see which auteurs Banderas noted among his favorites, why he joined the cast of Mimi Leder's The Code (out this week on DVD) just weeks before filming, his thoughts on independent filmmaking, Fellini, Bunuel, and more, and how being a pragmatist is necessary for an artist in his particular line of work.



8 1/2 (1963, 97% Tomatometer)
Federico Fellini's 8 1/2Why? Well, I think it's an act of freedom, the whole entire movie, practically. They didn't have a script. In 1962, which is the year when the movie was shot, I thought it was unbelievable that somebody would just go into an experiment like that. It's still a very experimental movie, very emotional in a way. I like what he says about the human spirit and creation; in a way, crisis of a man confronting life, his past, his present and his future in a very formal way. I mean formal in terms of format, how the movie was told, not only in the content of the movie, which is amazing. Also in the way that he decided to just do it absolutely free, inventing new rules for telling a story and not going in a traditional way. I thought it was the masterpiece of Federico Fellini that most attracted me; I feel very proud that I know [what it's like for] a guy like Federico Fellini, who got the balls to just jump into such believable, reflections of mirrors, you know, inside the movie.




Lawrence of Arabia (1962, 98% Tomatometer)
Lawrence of ArabiaI love the scope of the movie; there is something in David Lean that I like very much. He's always of the macro worlds and the micro worlds; he didn't only do it in Lawrence of Arabia, but repeated it in Dr. Zhivago and other movies. [In Lawrence of Arabia] he made a movie with enormous scope and events that were known in the world -- the Turkish-British War, and at the time, the taking of Akaba -- things that were very spectacular and very epic, but in reality he's talking to us about the homosexuality of one of the characters and something really minimalistic and very precise. He gets into the soul of a man through this spectacular movie and this union of these two worlds. He did it again in Dr. Zhivago as I said before, because in a way he put together the entire Russian revolution, which is also very big, while in reality telling a love story. So this kind of union, joining, he does between the macro world and the micro world is something that I was always interested in, and he was a master of doing the type of job. It's one of those movies that always remain in your mind. Also, he gave himself permission to do it in a way that probably no studio would buy in our day; just to see a man coming from five miles into the camera for two minutes and a half -- no executive producer would allow that to happen! He gave himself permission to do that, and I had the luck of seeing a remastered version of Lawrence of Arabia in a theater in Spain 10 years ago, and it was magnificent because it gave you the possibility of thinking, which is unusual.

We also have the performance of first time movie actor Peter O'Toole. That was the first movie that he did, which I didn't know until I worked with Omar Sharif in a movie that I did years ago called 13th Warrior, and he told me that. At the time, he was a very prominent theater actor in London, but that was the first movie that he did. I will never forget those blue eyes on the big screen. Amazing!




The Godfather (1972, 100% Tomatometer)
The GodfatherFrancis Ford Coppola; he's one of my favorites, too.




The Exterminating Angel (1962, 94% Tomatometer)
The Exterminating AngelThe Exterminating Angel is a surrealistic movie. It's about a bunch of people from high society in Mexico who, after one night at the opera, decide to have drinks in the house of one of them, and they cannot get out. And they spend about three months there, and you don't know why they cannot get out, but they cannot. [Laughs] It's a very, very beautiful and interesting story -- also risky, and very misunderstood at the time that the movie opened. But you know, that's what happened sometimes; after the second World War, naturalism and realism won the battle, so it was imposed that cinema had to be realistic always. But there was a time that it was not like that; Russians were doing expressionist movies, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari for example in Germany, and all these German directors, they were doing another type of approach to movies in formal terms. And in Spain, too, we had Luis Bunuel who was doing this type of surreal movies that were very interesting. Now they can be revised in sort of a different way, with time passed. But Luis Bunuel is definitely one of my favorite directors of all time.




Touch of Evil (1958, 94% Tomatometer)
Touch of EvilI'm going to go to a guy who, being American, loved Spain; actually, he's buried physically in the land where my father was born, in Ronda, Spain. His name is Orson Welles, and the movie is Touch of Evil.

Next: Banderas speaks candidly about why he joined the cast of Mimi Leder's The Code, the challenges that face independent films in a studio-run world, and accepting the fate of the "direct-to-DVD" film. Plus, Fellini fan Banderas shares his hopes for Rob Marshall's upcoming film Nine, adapted from the Broadway musical for which Banderas won a Tony nomination.

Comments

Bigbrother

Big Brother

Well, The Godfather and Lawrence of Arabia are pretty standard, but hard to argue with. Very respectable choices all. This is kinda what I would have expected an Actor like Antonio to pick.

Jun 22 - 07:24 PM

BRi

Bri A

I lost my girlfriends to Antonio Benderez :( Not even joking. So A, if you ever get contacted my a Cassandra, don't respond. She is crazy.

Jun 22 - 07:38 PM

frank f.

frank ford

He hasn't made 5 good movies!

Jun 22 - 07:46 PM

Jahaira L.

Jahaira Lora

i'm sorry to have to agree with you.

Jun 29 - 10:22 AM

tomwaitsjrHAPPYICONOCLAST

Greg Guro

I have to hand it to Banderas as far as bad films go

Ecks Vs. Sever is pretty much agreed upon to be in the top 100 worst films ever made.

Never talk to Strangers and Original Sin. Unbelievably Bad.

And I hated Shrek the Third, too!

But, if you add up all his films (Including Spanish language films) I think you'll end up with 5 or more. . .

Jun 22 - 08:33 PM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

Sounds like a really well-spoken and intelligent guy. I count myself a fan. I like his first Zorro movie a great deal; the second wasn't so great, but was still fun. Desperado and Once Upon A Time in Mexico are great fun. He's had a few other roles that were pretty memorable; he was good in Brian DePalma's Femme Fatale. But my favourite Banderas movie (one of my favourite movies overall actually) is The 13th Warrior. Oddly enough, though he was definitely the star and did a good job, I thought he was pretty thoroughly upstaged in that one by several of the (mostly unknown) supporting cast members, most notably Vladimir Kulich and Dennis Storhoi, both of whom did a really awesome job.

Jun 22 - 08:57 PM

Hamboner

Brian Lorenzen

His best movies... I haven't seen many...

The Mask of Zorro, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Shrek, Original Sin (at least for the sex scenes... my god they rocked), and uh, I don't know, Femme Fatale.

The best part about his films is that he always stars opposite an extremely hot (and often bare) actress.

Jun 22 - 09:52 PM

BigEarn

Jeff Earnhart

seriously dude, "once upon a time in mexico?????????" Are you high? That was one of the worst movies ever.

Jun 23 - 07:55 AM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

That's just your opinion, friend. I like that one too, and I'm pretty sure I'm not high...

And Dario Z, I liked Assassins somewhat too, so you're not alone. It wasn't too ambitious, I liked it for what it was.

Jun 23 - 08:55 AM

Mister_Prophet

Will Massaro

First movie I remember seeing him in was Philadelphia. Also dug Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico, but some of his better stuff was when he was in supporting roles. Like the gay vampire in Interview With a Vampire.

Jun 22 - 09:55 PM

Mehone T.

Mehone Tebedge

Assassins sucked, but I remember when I saw it the first time, Antonio scared the doodoo outa me! I think he has alot more potential than he lets on. I also remember he played some kinda mambo singer with Armand Assante that i enjoyed when i was a kid. I thought this new movie was called 'Thick as Thieves' maybe I'm mistaken? Oh well, it looks good, and it looks like he has a good chemistry with Morgan Freeman, but I can't tell just from watching the trailer.

Jun 22 - 10:10 PM

Mehone T.

Mehone Tebedge

Assassins sucked, but I remember when I saw it the first time, Antonio scared the doodoo outa me! I think he has alot more potential than he lets on. I also remember he played some kinda mambo singer with Armand Assante that i enjoyed when i was a kid. I thought this new movie was called 'Thick as Thieves' maybe I'm mistaken? Oh well, it looks good, and it looks like he has a good chemistry with Morgan Freeman, but I can't tell just from watching the trailer.

Jun 22 - 10:11 PM

Bob S.

Bob Saccomano

Pretty decent list. I was expecting some different sorts of movies from him, but it's always tough to guess what anyone will pick as their top 5 (if I were a betting man, though, I'd always put money on THE GODFATHER). THE MASK OF ZORRO is probably my favorite Banderas movie, but he definitely has made some clunkers over the years. One shudders to think...

Jun 22 - 10:30 PM

Liara T.

Liara Tsoni

http://liara-tsoni.mybrute.com = GotY

Jun 22 - 11:10 PM

inactive user

Jared King

Generic. But still tough to argue with. (I haven't heard of The Exterminating Angel. Sorry.)

His best film, "Shrek 2". His worst? Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever, whih also has the worst title ever. I saw it for laughs. And walked away, sad.

Jun 22 - 11:32 PM

inactive user

Jared King

*whih is which. Still can't type that stupid C.

In fairness, "Ballistic" isn't the worst movie ever as this site suggests, it's just a film you can safely say, is not good. AT ALL!

Jun 22 - 11:35 PM

BlackBart

Erin Shedd

I'm sorry, did you claim his list is generic and then go on to state you haven't even heard of one of the movies on the list? Isn't that the opposite of generic? He has Godfather and Laurence of Arabia, but the other three are anything but "usual" answers. And I am still dumbfounded by why actors/directors get put down for listing Star Wars, Godfather, Casablanca, etc. This is a favorites list after all. Since when are people not allowed to like popular (albeit great) movies? Who are we to say their opinions are stupid? I just enjoy seeing why they like certain movies be they AFI Top 100 or Razzy winners.

Jun 24 - 08:22 AM

inactive user

Jared King

*whih is which. Still can't type that stupid C.

In fairness, "Ballistic" isn't the worst movie ever as this site suggests, it's just a film you can safely say, is not good. AT ALL!

Jun 22 - 11:35 PM

ruth s.

ruth solis

--== Cougarster.Com ==-- Best Cougar dating site in the world!
It's where cougars and younger men can meet(Cougar is the slang for woman who is mature, experienced and want to date with a younger man). No matter you are looking for a NSA or serious relationship, please do check it out!!

Jun 23 - 03:00 AM

CFM

'schak Attack

Thanks ruth! *raises middle finger*

Jun 23 - 07:02 AM

Funkmaster Flex

Phillip Martin

I would go out on a limb and say Cougarster is on the same level as Ecks vs. Sever. all in all, I usually enjoy Banderas' movies. Not that they're usually very good, but I enjoy them. Except Spy Kids.

Jun 23 - 07:25 AM

BigEarn

Jeff Earnhart

seriously dude, "once upon a time in mexico?????????" Are you high? That was one of the worst movies ever.

Jun 23 - 07:55 AM

ColinTheCimmerian

Colin Hay

That's just your opinion, friend. I like that one too, and I'm pretty sure I'm not high...

And Dario Z, I liked Assassins somewhat too, so you're not alone. It wasn't too ambitious, I liked it for what it was.

Jun 23 - 08:55 AM

Dario Z.

Dario Zampaglione

Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (i don't know they translate the title)
Atame! (same here)
The Mask of Zorro (it was fun, i give it that)
Shrek 2
mmm i kind of enjoyed Assassins, but i think i'm alone there

His best movies are the ones he did in Spain

Jun 23 - 08:03 AM

hammershu

Tommy Shumate

Anyone who puts "The Exterminating Angel" on a top 5 list is pretty much a bad a** in my book. I just saw that film a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing.

Jun 23 - 08:04 AM

Mehone T.

Mehone Tebedge

I just saw assasins again, and too reiterate the movie was far from flawless. Antonio did a great job, kind of reminded me of Heath Ledger's Joker, but he didn't do a good enough job to save the movie, but he played a surprisingly good villain though. Sylvester Stalone was really good as well, but again not enough to save the contradiction that 'Assassins' was. (boring action flick)

Jun 23 - 08:29 AM

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