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Posts Tagged ‘Antonio Banderas’

Take The Lead” (2006)  —  movie review
Today’s review is for the ballroom dance / teaching movie starring Antonio Banderas as Pierre Dulaine (the teacher), Alfre Woodard (the Principal) and Rob Brown (“Finding Forrester“), Yaya DaCosta and Dante Basco (“Blood and Bone“) as some of the “urban” high school students.
The movie follows a standard formula like “Stand And Deliver“, “Freedom Writers“, “Lean On Me” and “Coach Carter“, but with a classical ballroom dance angle – as opposed to Calculus, writing, discipline or basketball.
So, it this movie any good?  Acting?  Dance?  Music?  Is it entertaining?  Well, yes, so-so, mostly yes, mostly yes, and (ultimately) yes.  The movie is shot well so the dancing is mostly in frame and contained.  The exceptions being when there are switches to break-dance and “street” dance.  The acting by the “kids” is mostly better than the “adults”, with Banderas being the best of the adults.  Both the ballroom and the break types are entertaining and visually interesting.  The music is also cross-spectrum and pretty good to excellent.  And, despite some early reservations, I found I enjoyed the movie a lot more than I thought I would.
Two points here: first, I love to dance, but I’m pretty bad at it.  I used to be okay at the free-form and jumping around stuff, but I lacked the timing and memory to be any good at most forms from square dancing to disco to swing.  But, I do love to watch good dancing almost as much as I like to pretend I can dance myself.  Basically, this means I had a natural inclination to enjoy this film.
Second point: I am finding myself to be an Antonio Banderas fan.  I’ve seen him in a number of roles over the years, but I’ve mostly been unimpressed or thought, “Yeah.  He was okay in that role.”  This was different.  I’m not sure why, but Banderas sold me on this role and I felt (as predictable and formulaic as this movie was) he lifted it to an enjoyable movie level on the strength of his role.  He made it believable.
Final recommendation: moderate to strong.  If you like this high-school teacher in the urban school genre, you will like this movie.  If you are indifferent to the genre, but like music and / or dance, you’ll like this movie.  If you have little or no knowledge or experience with ballroom dance, you will get a little appreciation for this type of dance – and that itself is good.  I found it a pleasant enough way to spend almost two hours.
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On This Day In:
2020 R.I.P. Kobe
2019 Looks A Lot Like #45
2018 Trying To Stay Young
2017 Seems Reasonable To Me
2016 We Can Get Through This Together (In Time)
2015 How Long Is A Piece Of String?
2014 Heathen, n.
2013 Wisdom’s Folly
2012 When The Student Is Ready
Disconnected Leadership
2011 The Complex Richness Of Life

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Sicario (2015) — movie review
Today’s review is for the drug cartel crime fighting thriller, Sicario,  released a few years ago and which has a sequel just wrapping up in theaters now.  The movie title translates to “hitman” according to the opening credits.  It stars: Emily Blunt as FBI Agent Kate Macer; Antonio Banderas — just kidding — Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick; Josh Brolin as CIA Agent Matt Graver and Daniel Kaluuya as Blunt’s FBI partner Reggie Wayne.  Gillick’s “character / role” is not entirely clear.  On the one hand, he is said to be an attorney who’s family is murdered by a drug cartel, and on the other had he is said to be a member of the Medellín cartel.  I think I would have to view the movie again to see which is true as multiple sources seem to disagree (Rotten Tomatos, IMDB, Wikipedia).  Really, he’s a combination of Paul Kersey (Death Wish) – vengeance / vigilante, John McClane (Die Hard) – one man against the gang / vigilante, and Frank Castle (Punisher) – super-efficient killer with multiple weapons / vigilante.
The basic plot is the CIA needs an FBI agent on a cross-departmental team to function on US soil.  Hence, they recruit Macer and Wayne to help “arrest” (i.e. track down and kill) some cartel leaders.  To do this, they pursue the cartel in both the US and Mexico.  Blah, blah, blah.  Shoot-em up.  Blah, blah, blah.  Feel sorry for Macer and Gillick.  Blah, blah, Gillick saves Macer.  Blah, blah, Gillick gets revenge.  Blah, blah, Macer let’s Gillick skate (to make a sequel).  Kind of a happy / unhappy ending…
So, is this a good movie?  Does it work as a thriller?  Is it realistic?  Yes.  Yes.  And, so-so.  I found the movie to be very interesting because it was the best depiction I’ve seen of night vision / thermal vision head gear.  The acting is solid and the characters are reasonably developed enough that you can start to feel for them.  The movie works quite well as a thriller.  The action starts strong with a pretty powerful (if gruesome) opening of the FBI breaking into a house full of dead bodies to arrest / kill gang members and free hostages and then it just goes from there.  Anyway, the Department of Justice wants to make a “bigger” difference in the drug war, so they join the CIA and DOD’s Delta Force to perform operations both in the US and in Mexico.  There are multiple action / set pieces and they work – in terms of both increasing theatrical tension and creating bonding of the law enforcement team (character development).
Is the movie realistic?  I do believe it’s realistic in terms of gang violence and military capability.  No.  I don’t believe it is realistic in the depiction of action.  The action happens the way we (as an audience) would like it to happen – person shot, person drops.  But, again, it’s only a movie, so I’m willing to cut Hollywood some slack.  They are trying to entertain us, not educate us.
The movie is rated: “R” and this is deserved due to the graphic depiction of gang violence.  Having said this, it shies away from the most graphic violence of Gillick avenging his own family by killing the drug lord (and his family first, in front of him).  Today’s post title is a quote of the final words Gillick says to the gang / drug lord.
So, final recommendation: strong.  The story is good.  The action and tension builds.  The characters / actors get developed during the film.  It has a satisfying (if not happy) ending.  With the proviso that it is not for the squeamish and is correctly rated as “R”, it is worth your time if you are into spy / crime / thriller / action movies.
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On This Day In:
2017 Wealth Within
2016 Soaring
2015 Gone To The Library…
2014 Choose To Lead
2013 Not Sent Yet
2012 Wall-Crawler Reboot
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2011 Emancipated Differences
2010 A Little More Technology, Please…

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