Liz Smith: Antonio Banderas — The Cat’s Meow!

And more from our Liz: Lindsay “tasteful?”… Kim “apologetic?”… 007 forever? … and the last album of Amy Winehouse

“A CAT is more intelligent than most people think, and can be taught any crime,” said Mark Twain.

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WHO COULD have expected that Antonio Banderas would sail into the middle of his career in the shape of a libidinous orange tabby? And that, as the voice of this wicked little feline in the “Shrek” movies and now the blockbuster “Puss in Boots,” he would enjoy his greatest success as a box-office star? And even as a ladies’ man?

“Puss in Boots” walloped the competition for a second week in a row, pulling in a healthy 33 million, and enjoying one of the least drastic second week slides ever, for this type of movie. I’m happy for Banderas, who has always been a wonderful actor and from what I have heard, a genuinely nice, understanding and sensitive man. He adores his wife, Melanie Griffith, and for all his sultry good looks (improved and refined by maturity!) he has never given her a moment’s reason to doubt his fidelity. Though she has been famously jealous at times.

Well, perhaps this is easy to understand. Antonio left his first wife, Ana Leza, for Melanie, quite a few years back, so most women in Griffith’s position wonder if the tables will eventually turn. They haven’t. Antonio has his standards. Does anybody remember the great sequence in Madonna’s “Truth or Dare” documentary? She attends a party in Europe with the stated intention to seduce him, but finds out to her displeasure that he is married and the wife (wisely) has accompanied her hubby. Madonna retreats to the ladies room with her girlfriends to moan over the situation and tries to figure out “who else can I flirt with tonight?” (Yes, they are just like us, these super-confident mega-stars.)

In the end, she persuades Antonio to guide her to her car through a mass of fans and paparazzi, and makes him promise to call her. He does not.

They did work together seven years later on “Evita.” But by that time, Miss Griffith was Mrs. Banderas and Madonna was pregnant with her first child. The moment — such as it was — had passed.

Banderas is also great this year in the critically acclaimed “The Skin I Live In,” directed by Pedro Almodovar, his old mentor. Pedro guided Antonio to fame in 1982’s “Labyrinth of Passion.”

* * *

I WAS wrong. I thought Lindsay Lohan would spend five days behind bars, on her latest 30-day jail sentence. Actually, she spent a whopping five hours. Not that I think any jail sentence would reasonably set her right, but these lightning fast in and outs are absurd.

Oh, her devoted and excellent mother, Dina assures her public — that’s me I guess — that Lindsay’s Playboy pictorial will be “tasteful.”

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SPEAKING OF good taste, I suppose we are being encouraged to think Kim Kardashian has any, because she supposedly visited the parents of her dumped-without-a-backward-glance-hubby, Kris Humphries to “apologize” for all the icky publicity. Sorry, Kim. As Jennifer Aniston famously remarked about Brad Pitt — Kim seems to be missing a “sensitivity chip.”

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I TOLD you the other day that the James Bond franchise was geared up to continue, with Daniel Craig again, in a 007 adventure titled “Skyfall.”

British reporter Mark Monahan expanded on the Bond genre recently, explaining how it has kept pace through the decades, various styles and real-life global issues while retaining interest and humor. And of course, all the different James Bonds. Monahan writes:

“The chief variant is 007 himself. Regenerating with a new actor every few years … he is simultaneously the most dependable element and the one that allows each generation to claim Bond as their own. Everyone ‘knows’ that they’re right about who the best James Bond is, and it is usually the first one they encountered in the cinema. I will defend to the death the eyebrow-raised authority of Roger Moore (especially in his first four outings) but tell this to someone from the Connery era and they’ll look at you as if you’re demented.”

Still, the writer concedes that Daniel Craig is “superb” as the new, more brutal 007, and might carry the series for a few more years. As I said when it looked like James Bond had fought his last villain, it would be a far less entertaining movie landscape without 007. Even the films and leading men that misfire have become part of the fun, the cult of the franchise.

“Skyfall” will be released next fall.

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AMY WINEHOUSE fans shouldn’t expect too much from her coming “new” last album. Titled “Lioness: Hidden Treasures” it is a compilation of unreleased originals, covers, alternative tracks and two demos of songs she intended for the album she did not live to record.

Still, this is a new world of unearthing everything a singer ever recorded, including chats with musicians, incomplete takes and material that is just plain bad. So, Amy’s final CD is typical. Apparently the two demos are good but would hardly have been considered album-ready. However, quality and what Amy herself might have wanted, be damned, “Lioness” is expected to be a smash upon release.

P.S. The mania for putting out all of an artists’ material often does them a disservice. I’m thinking specifically of Judy Garland here. Why even the most devoted fans would want to hear some of Judy’s last recordings is beyond me. On the other hand, historians have recently dug up a treasure trove of rare live performances on radio and in concert, from Garland’s heyday, often singing songs she never again performed or recorded. (Want to hear “My Ship” at its most poignant? Find Judy’s live radio version.)

So, you can ignore the bad, and revel in the glorious if you choose.

12 Responses so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    Yes, tasteful has been the hallmark of Lindsay Lohan’s career, hasn’t it?

    And I really find it hard to believe that Kar-Ka$h-ian really cares about what other people think, much less future ex-in-laws. I think Kim is missing a few other vital “chips” too.

    Madonna has always thought she was all that, and the aforementioned chips… never really understood her appeal. Music–yes. Everything else–looks, acting ability, personality, sense of humor or generosity–no.

    The stars today are dim… in every sense.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      Few may have read the story on former Playboy Playmates, but apparently quite a few have died at relatively young ages, instead of living until an old age. Think: Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Jane Mansfield, Dorothy Stratten and several others of much less fame. Does it mean taking off your clothes for public perusal opens yourself to unwanted attention? Or does it mean taking a risk in going nude means you take risks in other areas of your life? Or is beauty a curse? Not sure, but when Kim Kardashian turned Playboy down (and her mother says she did), she probably did herself a favor. Lindsay Lohan should beware, but then, she is not known for being wary in much of what she does these days.

      • avatar considerpleeze says:

        Marilyn Monroe was not a Playmate. Hugh Hefner used her calendar photo as the first centerfold – Dec. 1953. She didn’t pose for Playboy.

  2. avatar SherryDAmore says:

    It is sad to see Lohan and KarTrashian in the spotlight, and I can’t figure out why.  Lohan at least USED to act and have something to contribute, but what have the Kartrashains done but be famous for nothing? 

    Neither are very interesting.  At all.  

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      @Baby Snooks – I don’t always agree 100% with what you say.  I do here.  Earth Mother took interesting when she departed.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Elizabeth took “anticipation” when she departed.  She had not been interesting since 1994 and her first hip replacement, which she never recovered from–then came more more hips, more back fractures, brain tumors, heart problems, etc.  It was a long death watch on her.  She lived beyond her legend, but the media still needed a “Liz Taylor story”–even if it was a yearlly treatise on her fragile health.

        But there was always this weird hope that she would somehow magically regenerate, as she had so many times before. 

        Even at the end, even as she  was wheeled into Ceders in her boots and her make-up and her bling, looking like she was dying–as indeed she was– there was still this crazy hope–she’ll recover, she’ll give another  great interview, she’ll marry again!  

        For me, there is nothing left now that ET is gone.  I have to pay attention to the crapolla of today’s idiot culture, but  her death was the end of what I cherished as a a child and a young man–real stars, real glamour, real excitement. 

        Nothing can compare to what I felt –for example–waiting outside the Waldorf Towers in NYC, as her limo pulled up, as the paparazzi screamed, “it’s her!” and as she emerged in movie queen slow-mo, giving everybody what they wanted, giving nothing of herself.  Holding the arm her new lover Henry Wynberg, and  clutching a kitten!

        • avatar rick gould says:

          Mr. Wow–
          My sentiments exactly!

          While you were in NYC, I was in Upper Michigan, and my Mom would give me a lesson in Movie Stars 101 when the afternoon movies came on. We were actually excited when the Oscars came on! And even though I loved the stars of the 70s and 80s, it was a big deal when Bette Davis, Hepburn, Crawford, Cary Grant, Audrey, etc. etc. would appear on television–because they were REAL stars!
          And of course, Elizabeth. She really was the last star.
          I always found it sad that when she found her purpose, cleaned up her act, became an activist and businesswoman, that her health began to permanently turn on her.
          But she made the most of it, didn’t she?

          As for the idiocracy of today, both in politics and showbiz…As half-breed Jennifer Jones exclaimed in “Duel in the Sun”: “Trash, trash, trash!”

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear Rick…

            Actually, she had a fabulous  ten years between the the first Betty Ford stint and her first hip replacement.  Lots of work (mostly TV) lots of AIDS activism, lots of business genius (the fragrances)     She packed more into that decade than most people do in a lifetime. 

            However, after the first hip in ’94—it was a long downhill slide. 

        • avatar Baby Snooks says:

          Oh, please, we got “interesting” when she took to Twitter and started to have at it with Arnie Klein. She might have gone a little further had someone not grabbed the laptop. It’s alright. I will carry on for her. With Arnie Klein anyway.  That was pure “Hi, I’m Elizabeth Warner.” Which no doubt explains why they took the laptop away. Didn’t fit the image everyone wanted her to project. Or protect. She could have cared less. And had at it. And she was always interesting when she had at it. Even if you didn’t agree with her, well, you respected her for saying what she felt. She put on rose-colored glasses in a way as she got older. And finally, at least for a brief moment, took them off. And, well, had at it.  She hated Kitty Kelley but Kitty Kelley titled her book the only way it could have been titled. The Last Star. What Elizabeth Taylor was.

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            I thought it was pretty interesting when she went to Hawaii for her birthday to swim with the dolphins.  And when she wheeled into the Abbey one night to check on the boys.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear Count….

            She swam with sharks, actually.  And was wheeled into the Abbey more than once.  This was her staff attempting  to keep her “interesting.”  

            They were idiots.     

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Do I dare?  The Abbey. The staff. Oh, my. And then there’s Colin Farrell.  The entourage wasn’t trying to keep her interesting. The entourage was having fun. On her nickle as they say.  But, well, honestly who else was left? A lot of people simply didn’t answer the phone so to speak. Tired of the, well, the freak show. Richard Burton made a very rude comment once about the entourage. Rude but prescient.  And that was before Michael Jackson.

            It was a downhill slide. And a rough ride . For all of us. I would have preferred some things she said, and did, she had kept to herself. Others would have as well. Michael Jackson in particular. But in the end, well, she hit Twitter. Who knows where she would have gone had they not grabbed the laptop. Probably quite a few places. Maybe to the office. The one down the hall.  Instead I suspect she called the attorneys.

            In the end she left it all to the kids, the grandkids, the great-grandkids and the great-great grandkids yet to come. Everyone else? Well everyone else had gotten theirs along the way. Way too much in some cases.  She couldn’t be rude like Richard Burton. But, well, the party was over for some as they say.  I doubt she cared much about the nights out with the boys. They wanted Elizabeth Taylor. She gave them Elizabeth Taylor. And then went home to the kids, the grandkids, and the great-grandkids. 
            The sharks. Maybe she was planning to feed them. With the entourage. And thought better of it. Someone had to pick up after the dogs. And after the kids, the grandkids, and the great-grandkids. No dummy she.  Not at the end anyway.