Year 8, Day 19 - 1/19/16 - Movie #2,219
BEFORE: Still in Mexico tonight, but I'm turning the clock back a few decades to a time when it more resembled the "Old West". And Salma Hayek's carring over from "Frida", frankly she can stick around the Movie Year as long as she wants, you won't hear me complaining.
And I'm completing a three-film rhyme scheme, with "Evita", "Frida", and now "Bandidas". I couldn't believe it when I had the opportunity to schedule this months ago, and now it's come to pass. Over 7 years in to the project, and this is what I find funny now - cheap rhymes in titles. Whoever the TCM programmer is, have him give me a call, I'll show him how to schedule "The Best Years of Our Lives" after "A Letter to Three Wives" or "Tin Pan Alley" after "How Green Was My Valley". "City Lights" next to "Wuthering Heights", I swear, I've got dozens of ideas. "Oliver Twist", meet "Schindler's List".
THE PLOT: In mid-19th century Mexico, two very different women become a bank-robbing duo in an effort to combat a ruthless enforcer terrorizing their town.
AFTER: I know, it's just a silly comedy about a couple of women robbing banks, but after all the overblown seriousness of "Evita" and "Frida", a little nonsensical comedy is quite welcome. Plus, it seems like every day there's news of another rock star or British actor passing away, and it's bringing the room down, man. Glenn Frey's the latest but David (frickin') Bowie? Unless he's just going through another transition phase ("The Really Thin White Corpse"?), the world's not going to be the same. It's gotten so bad that I've considering doing what I did one year by lining up films with celebrity birthdays, only in reverse, watching an actor in a film on the day he or she died - but that would probably get really morose after a while.
Still, if this is the last year of the project, why not embrace death symbolically? I could have scheduled the last two films to be watched on the day their subjects died, for example - but Eva Peron died on July 26, and Frida Kahlo died on July 13 - that never would have lined up. I'll have to think more about this.
But let's get back to "Bandidas". Teaming up Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz might have seemed like a bad idea to some, because some Americans might have a hard time telling them apart. But their characters are, like, totally different, OK? One's rich and cultured, having attending college in Europe, and the other one is from a poor village. One's a great shot with a pistol, and the other one, well, at least she's good at training horses. One is dark-haired, beautiful and busty and the other one - OK, you've got me there.
The contrived plot has both of them lose their family fortunes (OK, one's more like a pittance) to the same ruthless developer, so circumstances put them in the same bank, both robbing it at the same time, just for different reasons. For one of them, it's "Daddy's bank", so it's kind of like Paris Hilton robbing a luxury hotel. Geez, you'd think the tellers would recognize her, even with a bandanna over her face.
The two decide to pool their resources (such as they are) and work together, and even contact an aging bank robber, played by Sam Shepard, who train them, Yoda-style, out on the plains. Because it turns out there's more to robbing banks than just holding a gun, the robbery means nothing if you can't get away clean, and stay hidden. Good points. And also a great excuse to make two busty women do push-ups in a river so their corsets get all wet.
There's a very sexy scene with these two women, disguised as corseted showgirls after they tie up the man who's sent to investigate the bank robberies. They tie him to the bed - he's naked, mind you, because they surprised him in his hotel room at just the right moment - and once he's indisposed, they take turns kissing him to see who can do it the best. Because that's important. They take turns sitting on top of him, and their skimpy outfits are barely keeping everything contained, and you gotta figure some days it's great to be an actor. For anyone who thinks that maybe this character undergoes a reversal too quickly - one minute he's working for the bank and the next he's helping rob them, I say go back and watch the kissing scene again. That's all the motivation his character needed.
But the unscrupulous railroads are buying up (stealing) land - AGAIN? How many films have used this as a plot device, either comedic or dramatic? Let's see, there's "Blazing Saddles", that recent "Lone Ranger" film, and I must have seen at least a dozen other movies that used plots like this. It's such a staple of Western movies, that if I were in charge of Amtrak, I'd consider suing Hollywood for defamation of character.
Also starring Penelope Cruz (last seen in "Head in the Clouds"), Steve Zahn (last seen in "Dallas Buyers Club"), Dwight Yoakam (last seen in "The Newton Boys"), Sam Shepard (last seen in "Mud"), Dennis Arndt, Audra Blaser.
RATING: 5 out of 10 games of tic tac toe