Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Viva Bandidas

The main reason to watch Bandidas is obvious: Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek. But actually, it was co-writer Luc Besson's name that first brought this to our attention. Once it had our attention, the Cruz/Hayek thing took over.

Cruz plays the daughter of a Mexican peasant, who plays tic-tac-toe with her horse and loses (the horse cheats). Hayek is the cultivated daughter of the Mexican banker who owns Cruz's father's mortgage. And Dwight Yoakum plays the greasy American thug sent by a New York bank to steal the land needed for a railroad in the name of a New York bank.

Soon, the girls have turned outlaw, after some bankrobbing lessons from Sam Shephard. The bank sends down nerdy proto-CSI scientist Steve Zahn, who is quickly seduced to the wrong side of the law.

All pretty predictable. Just as predictable will be Cruz and Hayek flouncing around through gorgeous scenery in low-cut frontier/peasant chic, squabbling and getting into catfights. It may not be art but I know what I like.

It's a fun action film, if you don't mind Mexican heroes and American villains. Similar to the Zorro movies, but better, I'd say. Mrs. Spenser was not as enthusiastic, but enjoyed it. You will to, if you like this kind of thing.

If you do like this kind of thing, you might try Viva Maria! from 1965. Directed by Louis Malle, it stars Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau as South American entertainers who become revolutionaries. It's a bit more absurd and maybe more political - a different take on the same theme.

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