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Fame Audit: Antonio Banderas & Melanie Griffith

NAME: Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith
AUDIT DATE: August 7, 2001 / August 7, 2001
AGE: 41 / 43
OCCUPATION: Actor / Actor EXPERIENCE: 52 movies since 1982 / 48 movies since 1973


Whatever other talents he may have, Pedro Almodovar certainly has a skill for finding and unleashing blindingly beautiful people on the world. Penélope Cruz is only the latest in his line; ten years ago, he airmailed Antonio Banderas to America's doorstep with a starring role in Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down!, in which Banderas, all shorn hair and smoking Latin sex appeal, made a good contender for World's Most Stunning Person, male category. After that, he had no choice but to pack up and move west to Hollywood, a city which attracts beautiful people to its bosom much in the way that the cornfield baseball diamond drew dysfunctional dads at the end of Field of Dreams.

Soon, Banderas was lending his dependable beautosity to such films as The Mambo Kings, The House of the Spirits, Philadelphia, Interview with the Vampire, and Desperado. It was only a matter of time before some outside-the-box-thinking movie exec put together the words "hot Spanish guy" and "Zorro," and, lo and behold, there was Banderas starring in The Mask of Zorro in 1998.

Skip forward three years or so to, say, this week, and we catch up with Mr. Banderas in a new film, Original Sin, which is reportedly so bad that its release date has been bumped several times and review screenings were cancelled, despite the presence of (a) a semi-bankable male lead and (b) a very bankable, Oscar-winning female lead, in the person of Angelina Jolie. This kind of bad-film predicament has been an unfortunate trend in Mr. Banderas's career of late: in 1999, he starred in The 13th Warrior, a movie that, despite its Michael Crichton pedigree, was disappeared from the public consciousness with a Pinochetian efficiency. Banderas followed that up with The White River Kid, Play It To The Bone and The Body, a troika to which even the most attentive cinephile might reply, "White River Who?" "Play it to the What?" and "The Come Again?" True, Banderas scored an unexpected hit this year with Spy Kids, which is being rereleased (!) this week. But his very presence in a kiddie franchise -- like that of Charles Grodin in Beethoven or Geena Davis in Stuart Little -- suggests a certain irreversible career recession, much as that first merciless glimpse of pale scalp suggests the irreversible onslaught of male pattern baldness.

After close inspection, you may find that Mr. Banderas has -- with the exceptions of Desperado and Zorro -- played essentially two kinds of roles in his Hollywood career: relatively small supporting roles in high-profile films (like Philadelphia), and relatively supporting roles in high-profile flops (like The House of the Spirits). In a sense, he enjoys a kind of fame by proxy, for which we can't entirely blame him; it's obvious from his résumé that, since coming to Hollywood, he's been somewhat hamstrung by the fact that he's...well, Spanish, and as such is absolutely assured of getting offered a part in, say, Evita but also of being offered parts in precious little else -- an Edward James Olmos for the twenty-first century, but way prettier. (And yes, we know that Edward James Olmos is not Spanish. But you see our point.) Banderas's fame, under clinical scrutiny, is clearly overinflated, and when you search for the root cause of this overvaluation, you quickly come upon one obvious factor: the miracle of celebrity marriage.

In 1996, Banderas tied the knot with Melanie Griffith. To this day, both remain household-name celebrities, despite records that can be called spotty at best. Griffith's drought has been even more pronounced than her husband's; she's still coasting on one solid hit, Working Girl from 1988 (!!), a film that at the time was a big popular success -- and even sucked up a few Oscar nominations (including one for her)(!!!) -- but which in hindsight is notable for being the only non-porn film in recent memory to feature women who are top-level executives at large corporations and who also wear corsets and garters under their business suits. Whatever goodwill Griffith engendered with America has surely been frittered away in the ensuing thirteen years, thanks to such for-the-ages stinkers as Milk Money (in which pre-teen boys pool their money to buy a hooker for their lovelorn dad -- and guess who plays the ho!) and A Stranger Among Us, which is just like Witness, if you replace "Amish" with "Hasidic Jews," "Harrison Ford" with "Melanie Griffith," and "really good" with "holy shit."

We're often inclined to believe that celebrities interbreed because they feel that no one else can truly understand what it's like to be them. You know, the way the Hawaiian monarchy liked to have sex with each other to ensure that the bloodlines remained pure. But after considering the nuptials of Banderas and Griffith, we posit a new theory for the mating of stars: it's the kicking-in of an instinctual survival imperative, like shipwreck survivors huddling together in the water for warmth, and pooling their efforts to keep their heads above water. In short, these two are pooling their fame. They are fame-poolers. That is why it makes perfect sense to Fame Audit them as a couple, because they are now primarily famous for being married to each other. Surely both Griffith and Banderas are, at this time, more famous than either would be on their own -- if, say, Banderas were still married to Spanish actress Ana Leza and Griffith had dumped Don Johnson and married her cabana boy. We have to admit that this celebrity marriage idea is an ingenious way to keep fame alive. As ingenious as, say, finding you've run out of 100-watt bulbs and lighting the room with two 40-watts instead.



Fame Barometer

Banderas's current approximate level of fame: Alec Baldwin

Banderas's deserved approximate level of fame: David Arquette

Griffith's current approximate level of fame: Kim Basinger

Griffith's deserved approximate level of fame: Courteney Cox

If you got all the way to the end of this article, that means you love juicy celebrity gossip and Hollywood news as much as we do. It’s okay, don’t fight it. Instead, check out Hollywood Insider for the latest and greatest scoop straight from the celebrity capital of La-La Land.

Inside the Extra's Studio: Bit Players from The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo Drift Talk About Their Characters

David V. Thomas: "Clay's Buddy #3"

"Unlike 'Clay's Buddy #1' and 'Clay's Buddy #2,' I think I'm a little more ambivalent toward Clay. The backstory I created is that I used to be really into Clay -- like, we met at this race, and maybe we didn't hit it off immediately, but soon I started digging on his vibe -- then he did something to betray me. Like fucked my sister. Sister, or maybe cousin. But I never really confronted him because I have a fear of confrontation. But our relationship's never been quite the same, you know? Like, even 'buddy' might be pushing it."

Christian Salazar: "Chubby Hispanic Kid"

"This was a tough role for me. Because I myself am a bit chubby. And I'm Hispanic. That gave me something to bring to the part, but it also meant all my scenes hit a little close to home. I'd often phone and talk to my girlfriend right after we finished our takes, to get some things off my chest. Yeah, I cried a few times."

Nikki Griffin: "Cindy (Clay's Girlfriend)"

"Originally, my part was just called 'Clay's Girlfriend,' but I went to the director and said, 'You know, I really think she's a Cindy. She really feels like a Cindy to me.' And he kind of nodded while looking at a clipboard. I think he really respected that choice."

Vincent Laresca: "Case Worker"

"I feel he's not just pushing cases through the system. He cares. He really does."

Alden Villaverde: "Alden"

"People have been like, 'What a coincidence!' And I explain that they just gave my part my own name. For simplicity. I told them I could play a Chris, or an Andrew -- I've done it before -- but they wanted to stick with Alden. I was cool with that. I think it could help my singing career."

Caroline de Souza Correa: "Brazilian Model"

"I asked the director on the first day, 'What are we talking here? Am I Brazilian by nationality? By temperament? By grooming preference?' I didn't want to play this as just 'model.' Anyway, I don't think he heard me, because he was drinking hot chocolate and he didn't stop."

Silvia Suvadova: "Russian Model"

"I was a little more confident than Caroline. I've played Russian before. And I've played models before. So I had a lot to draw on here. From the first day, I felt I had a real strong sense of who this character is. For example, she's beautiful. And she's mad-crazy for the vodka."

Konishiki: "Paw Man"

"Hey, I like to paw. I made that clear right from the audition. So it was easy for me."

Satoshi Tsumabuki: "Exceedingly Handsome Guy"

"Obviously, I was nervous at the audition. I mean, I've auditioned to play Handsome Guys before. But this guy is exceedingly handsome. I knew I'd have to take it up a notch. And, yeah, I sensed some jealousy on set. But I just think of it as a job. The director's there to direct. The producer's there to produce. The gaffer's there to gaff. And I'm there to be Exceedingly Handsome. Which I think I did. Exceedingly."

Chris Astoyan: "Racer"

"Racing. I live for it. It's what I do. Or what he does, I should say."

Did you find that as fun as we did? Too bad it’s just make believe. Now if you want to hear what’s hot from Hollywood in the real world, don’t forget to check out Hollywood Insider.

Cradle 2 the Grave

What a surprise—another velocity-driven action-adventure feature that stars a slick muscle-toned black rapper, a no nonsense diminutive butt-kicking Asian karate machine, booty-shaking busty babes, an extremely boisterous hip hop soundtrack that’s enough to make your ears bleed to death and an insane and cockeyed plot that takes its foolishness to the ultimate extreme! Of course, this pretty much sums up director Andrzej Bartkowziak’s ridiculously over-hyped and twitchy crime caper Cradle 2 the Grave. Bartkowziak, who previously helmed carefree actions such as Exit Wounds and Romeo Must Die, tries to crank up the volume a bit in an effort to deliver a sizzling urban thriller that willingly flaunts its badass attitude. Despite the flashy fight sequences and the daring but all-too-familiar high-wire stunts that give this ultra-cool kitschy movie its kinetic kudos, Cradle 2 the Grave is an overbearing session of nonsense trying desperately to live up to its pseudo-stylized swagger.

There’s no question that the leads in Cradle 2 the Grave exude a charismatic energy that aids this otherwise contrived contraption that’s being passed off as a frothy vehicle of vengeance. DMX, who was probably the best element in Bartkowziak’s forgettable aforementioned Exit Wounds, reunites with his director to help bring a heavy dosage of inner city naughtiness to the pulsating proceedings. And Jet Li, also another former Bartkowziak leading crony from the passable martial arts romancer Romeo Must Die, brings to the table his usual fury of stoic chopsocky charm. Still, the twosome are bogged down in a series of flagrant and flamboyant plot devices that are excitable but have no genuine grit behind the meaningless mayhem. As an urbanized crime flick with a heavy-handed dose of cunning calisthenics and exuberant explosions to match, Cradle 2 the Grave doesn’t contribute anything worthwhile or imaginative to enlighten us beyond the rudimentary and rambunctious nature of this particular exploited genre. In essence, Bartkowziak’s brazen narrative is showy, shapeless, overwrought, senseless and arbitrary.

Following in the run-of-the-mill tradition of the mismatched and ethnically diverse buddy-buddy mode, we are introduced to an explosive tandem thrown together by their unusual circumstances. Jet Li plays Su, a dour-faced Taiwanese intelligence operative out to recover some precious diamonds and duke it out with the responsible riff raff behind the illegal operation. Eventually joining him in his quest to complete this mission is Tony Fait (DMX), a smooth tough-as-nails ringleader in charge of a band of skilled jewel robbers. Fait and his feisty followers manage to heist a cache of precious black diamonds under the watchful eye of the clueless Taiwanese government (in an implausible, ludicrous manner that is…) while penetrating a durable safe with a noticeable blast from a rocket launcher. But soon Fait and his felonious friends will get their comeuppance when an LA crime enforcer turns the tables on them and snatches the goods away from their possession.

The cat-and-mouse ploy continues to coast along as the tossed-about diamonds soon end up in the menacing hands of the dreaded Ling (Mark Dacascos). And to make matters worse, the ruthless Ling decided to put a bold stamp on his deception by taking hostage Fait’s impressionable young daughter (Paige Hurd) therefore creating an all-out declaration of an elaborate streetwise-war that is guaranteed to ruffle the GQ feathers of the perturbed Fait. This is where Agent Su comes in to help out with the cartoonish chaos; his teaming with the furious Fait will ensure the return of the valuable stash (and his working partner’s offspring). Su will stop it nothing to see this conflict through (with the convenience of using his flexible frame as a punishing fleshy weapon). The property of diamonds will be returned to the Taiwanese government and Su will complete this task by any means necessary.

Now many will detest the negative feedback of a notable segment of critics who’ll be predictably dismissed as “being an unfair and miserable bunch that have no appreciation, tolerance, understanding or sense of humor whatsoever for this kind of fun and stylish flick” or “naysayers who wouldn’t understand a good action movie if it jumped up and knocked them in their thick skulls''. Suffice to say, no one will deny that Bartkowziak’s rollicking entertainment is mainly appeasing (and solely directed) at the youth-oriented demographics or even to the older non-discriminating enthusiasts that crave the rhythmic raucousness of both the high-powered music (it helps that some of star DMX’s songs are scattered throughout the soundtrack, particularly the catchy pounding beat “X Gon’ Give it to Ya”) and the ballet of bullets and roundhouse kicks to the crotch that make up this faulty but convincingly throbbing thriller. But Bartkowziak fails to realize that his frenzied yet fruitless session of frantic flourishes that cater to the action-packed needs of his receptive audience is relentlessly redundant. Plus, it’s another faceless fast-paced yarn that will be digested quicker than yesterday’s junk food binge.

In a way, Bartkowziak cannot be blamed for giving in to the ambitious notion of exploring the pop culture craze that is the omnipresent force of rap artistry and martial arts mayhem. Together, these concepts make for an easy profitable partnership that will draw in the imagination of the excitable targeted moviegoers. With the previous proven formula generated by the cinematic success of the comically aggressive Chris Tucker-Jackie Chan Rush Hour movies, it’s clear to see why Bartkowziak would gamble on offering his straight-laced variation through the likes of prepped-up players DMX and Jet Li. The problem, however, is that the natural chemistry between Tucker and Chan was evident from the get go. Hence, their adventures and mishaps seemed effortless that made for their giddy, appetizing on-screen high jinks. With DMX and Li, they come off as a strained carbon copy duo simply roughing the edges of the overzealous material they’re asked to liven with their volatile, showboating presence.

Whereas Tucker and Chan carried their films with the goofy-minded personal appeal that epitomized them as enjoyable performers (Tucker’s annoyingly high-pitched voice and hilarious gestures; Chan’s impishness and self-deprecating persona), the personalities of DMX and Li are manufactured by the slaphappy goings-on of an overactive script that dictates their devilish facades courtesy of the merry-go-round madness that surrounds them. DMX does have an intrinsic angst to him that’s involved and the ladies will probably take to him like a duck does to water. But in this pumped-up motion picture, almost any solid rap artist with a cocky edge could have strutted through the shifty shoes of DMX’s alter ego Tony Fait. And poor Li still suffers from the limited English language barrier problem that constantly leaves him on the outside looking in. It doesn’t help that Li lacks the dynamic sparkle or “the approachable and playful common guy touch” that the clownish Chan is rightly noted for based on his hailed good-natured showbiz reputation.

Regrettably, Cradle 2 the Grave doesn’t take the constructive time to cater to its own surging identity. Instead, it’s nothing more than a strung-out series of random sensational vignettes that could easily be packaged under the videotape collection title of Homeboys, Hoochie Mamas and Kung Fu Cats Gone Wild! One wouldn’t mind if Bartkowziak was purposely going for the camp factor in a fired-up fable that’s shamelessly over-the-top in its initial state. What was meant as pure hip intensity and suspense with the hectic aspects of this super-sized spectacle (the vibrating background tunes, transportation vehicles flying from rooftop to rooftop if not simply smashing into other innocent objects in a numbing cry for attention, acrobatic human bodies flipping and flopping carelessly in mid air as if they were rejected specimens from an Olympic gymnastics tryout, selective items that explode into flames on cue for no apparent reason, etc.) merely comes off as an exhaustive and glorified music video with a generous hint of chest-thumping video game violence.

As if to sweeten the pot a bit, the movie ventures into a pointless arms dealers subplot that already puts an intolerable slant on these tediously conjured up proceedings. Oh yeah, and what’s a halfway jittery gangsta/martial arts heist-driven display without the proverbial interjection of the comic relief? In this case, the buffoonish Bopsey Twins of Anthony Anderson (Kangaroo Jack) and Tom Arnold add to the mix as the obligatory riotous distractions in an effort to contribute some chuckles to this rigged and rap-fueled roller-coaster ride.

Bartkowziak’s baby went rock-a-bye all right and the frantic wind did excessively blow—but this Cradle simply didn’t rock.

If you love watching action-packed movies or reading reviews about them, then check out Hollywood Insider for more in-depth reviews like this one.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

2009 brings us with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the 3rd part of the series that shows us the origins of the war that ravaged through centuries. The movie starts 20 years after the war started between Vampires and Werewolves, the 2 factions are split and fierce enemies being the first of their kind each had their own special abilities. The werewolves were an infectious breed that once you got bitten you would transform and you could never change into human form again, while the vampires could not walk in the daylight.

Viktor, played by Bill Nighy, an elder in the vampire clan started to build up his army to counter this growing threat and during this war he encountered a boy being born from a werewolf and although every fiber of his body told him to kill the boy he could not do it, instead he enslaved the boy, trained him and thus a new breed was born, the lycans half werewolf half man they could change form when they desired. The boy was named Lucian and he was the first of his species, from his blood victor made more to use as his personal guard during daylight and enslave to do all the hard labor.

From here the movie brings you with different plots within and outside the Vampire family, Viktors daughter Sonja, played by the beautiful Rhona Mitra as she grows she gets fond of Lucian and thus a romance story evolves between them. Although it is being kept in the utmost secrecy their secret will be found out, a fact that will lead to Lucian attempting to escape with all his brothers from the domination of the vampires. The escape plan did not go according to plan and only a hand few escaped with Lucian, Sonja remaining behind. After finding out of Sonja's deception to her own kin the elders voted that she must be executed, the news reaching Lucian also. As you can imagine Lucian gathers troops to assault the vampire stronghold also he makes an alliance with the werewolf’s since it seems they were obedient to him, sensing that he is different from the others. What follows is a total war between the vampires and lycans, full of blood, gore, and action and all hell breaks loose when Sonja is executed in front of Lucian eyes. The action is depicted in the vampires stronghold and the sets are nicely made although sometimes you will get bored with the same background over and over. Thus the director tried to combine love also into the movie but still as a main feature the action part will always be present there and the gore element is always around the corner in this movie.

All in all Underworlds: Rise of the Lycans is a nice movie to enjoy in your spare time if you have 92 min to indulge in a fantasy action movie but don’t expect to be amazed by it.

Rated: R
Runtime: 1 min 33 secs
Genre: Horror/Suspense
Theatrical Release: Jan 23, 2009 Wide
Box Office: $45,802,315
Starring: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, Danny McBride
Director: Patrick Tatopoulos
Story: Len Wiseman, Robert Orr, Danny McBride
Screenwriter: Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain
Composer: Paul Haslinger
Producer: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Len Wiseman, Richard Wright
Studio: Screen Gems

If you love watching horror or fiction movies and reading reviews about them, then check out Hollywood Insider for more in-depth reviews like this one.

Film Review: Bobby

At first thought, an actor with a resume such as Emilio Estevez’s seemed under-qualified to create and carry a movie such as Bobby. Surely a movie about the assassination of Senator Robert F Kennedy during his presidential campaign would have such political and social awareness, that Estevez would be out of his league. He’s the jock in The Breakfast Club, the lovesick student in St. Elmo’s Fire. Need I even bring up The Mighty Ducks?

He should have remembered his famous pedigree, though. His father, Martin Sheen, has played numerous presidents, including both RFK and JFK. It seems some of that ideology has rubbed off on Estevez, as he wrote, directed, and starred in this movie that reflects the ideology of an entire era. The hypothetical lives of everyone at the Ambassador Hotel when Senator Kennedy was shot are explored, from campaign workers, to food service, to a young couple getting married.

Estevez casts family, friends, and even an ex, and despite the nepotism, the casting is exact, if not even being stretched to be typecasting. The most humorous of the cast is Demi Moore, Estevez’s ex-fiance, as Las Vegas has-been, and himself as her long-suffering husband. Freud would’ve loved that one. And it doesn’t end there. In addition, Moore ’s present husband, Ashton Kutcher, is cast as a drug dealer selling some young campaign workers their first acid trip, then getting busted.

More interesting still, is not just that these people were cast, but that they did it for next to nothing. All the big name actors in this movie, Sharon Stone, William H Macy, Christian Slater, Anthony Hopkins, worked for scale, and for good reason. Estevez did a lot to develop these characters. While we meet so many different characters in the first ten minutes of the movie without any history attached to them, it looked to be confusing. Yet they all became very distinct personalities, with a huge role in what went on in that hotel that evening.

Everyone is looking for hope, and entwined by their idealistic views of the future. Macy’s character comes off so self-righteous, firing Slater for being a racist and not letting the mostly Latino kitchen staff leave to go vote. Yet, it’s also the same Macy character that is having an affair with Heather Graham, a hotel operator, behind the back of his wife, salon owner, Stone. Even worse, despite the fact that it’s 1968, Macy fires off a list to Stone on who and what she should vote for, as if she can’t think for herself.

Lindsay Lohan’s character is getting married to a male friend from school. She tells Stone over a manicure, she’s not marrying for love or money, just to save a life, as her groom, Elijah Wood, is about to enter the service, and she wants to save him from going to the front lines of the war. Martin Sheen and Helen Hunt appear in the film as a couple that aren’t sure of themselves as people, but very sure of themselves as a couple. In the beginning of the day she thinks the worst thing of the trip has happened when she forgets to pack her black shoes, but by the end of the evening, she certainly has a different view.

Perhaps the character with the most ideology is that of the food service worker, Freddy Rodriguez, who still believes there’s a good life waiting for him, despite the fact Slater keeps scheduling him for double shifts, Jacob Vargas telling him that because they‘re “Mexicans” they’ll always get the short end of the stick, and Laurence Fishburne assuring him some day he’ll have his due.

I don’t have to worry about blowing the ending for anyone here, as everyone that passed eighth grade history knows what happened on the night of June 4, 1968. Yet, it seems to me the message Estevez is trying to impart is that while Bobby Kennedy died that night, all those supporters survived. The symbol of their hope may have died, but their hope lived on.

For more on pop, culture, and entertainment, visit Hollywood Inisder.


        Hi, welcome to Slash Guitar Page! This page is dedicated to Slash, one of the biggest guitar players off all time!
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     Quick update - 21/04/03                                           - The Snakepit 2000 bootleg is online, download and listen to it,  it'll worth ;)
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     Slash Guitar Page was last updated in 26/03/03     - We're back! Sorry for making you wait for 3 months (!!) but we're experiencing some big
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