Penelope Cruz is one of those rare actresses who seems to be getting hotter as the years roll by. I thought the old adage in Hollywood was that one you hit 40 that was basically it, get ready for the grandma roles and television. Cruz, on the other hand, is three years off of the big 4-0 and she looks better now than she ever has. Kinda makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside thinking about how hot she is…and I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to know anything about that. Let’s move along, shall we?
I will say that I haven’t always been a big fan of this gal. Actually used to dislike her a good bit when she was dating Tom Cruise. Couldn’t for the life of me understand why the Cruise Missile would set his sights on some Spanish chick nobody knew when he had the hotness that was late 90s Nicole Kidman. You ever see EYES WIDE SHUT? That’s the level of hotness Kidman was at when Cruise divorced her. Supernova hot. Burn your damn eyes out if you look at her too long hot. That was the Kidman that Cruise left. Flash forward a decade and Kidman is definitely a few pegs down on the hot scale while Cruz is on her way up. Funny how that worked out.
The PEDRO ALMODOVAR Films - Gotta be honest here, I’ve never actually seen any of the movies that Cruz has done with Almodovar. Not a single one. Not really a reason for this, just to say that I’ve never gotten around to seeing any of these pics and I probably should have. After all, these are the movies that made her famous and these are the ones that made Almodovar into the creative force that he is today. Included on the list of films I haven’t seen is BROKEN EMBRACES, THE CANNIBALISTIC COUNCILLOR, VOLVER, ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER and LIVE FLESH. All fine films, I’m sure, but ones that I have yet to see.
VICKY CHRISTY BARCELONA - I have, however, seen this flick and I absolutely love it. Bit of a light film, mostly centering around a love triangle that consists of Cruz, Javier Bardem and Scarlett Johansson. Don’t let the “light” moniker fool you, VICKY is packed with wonderful performances and is a great little film from Woody Allen, a guy who doesn’t seem to get the credit that he deserves as a filmmaker. And, if for some reason that cast and that director doesn’t get you in, there’s a solid make-out session between Cruz and Johansson. If the artistry on hand won’t lure you in, then allow the image of those lovely ladies having face time with each other to do so.
OPEN YOUR EYES and VANILLA SKY - When is a remake not so much a remake but rather a different vision of the same tale that is equally good as the film that spawned it? VANILLA SKY is that film and OPEN YOUR EYES (aka ABRE LOS OJOS) is the film that it remade. Both films are equally impressive, both are absolute mind-benders that will screw with your head for weeks and both feature Cruz as Sofia, the woman that our so-called hero (Eduardo Noriega in EYES, Tom Cruise in SKY) falls for. Despite both performances being basically the same performance, I have to give Cruz the win for her work in SKY. Not sure why, but I’ve always felt that she was more real and relatable in SKY while she was a little aloof in EYES. Both performances are great, just one more so than the other.
THE HI-LO COUNTRY - A largely forgotten melodrama from 1998 starring Woody Harrelson, Billy Crudup and Cruz, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for this flick. I think maybe it has something to do with me wishing I had been born a cowboy back in the early part of the century. As far as the film goes, it’s solid stuff with Cruz delivering what I consider to be one of the best performances of her career.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED HER IN
BANDIDAS - I’ve found over the years that most people have never heard of this little gem. I’ve also found out that they tend to go crazy when I tell them about it. Why? Because this is an action-western that stars Cruz and Salma Hayek as bank robbers who shoot their way across Mexico at the turn of the century. Oh and did I mention that Luc Besson (LEON, LA FEMME NIKITA) and Robert Mark Kamen (TAKEN, THE TRANSPORTER) wrote this little ditty? That’s right, two of Spain’s hottest imports in a shoot-em-up from two of the best action writers in the biz that you probably didn’t know about till you read this little bit. Consider your mind blown and you Netflix queue up one movie.
GOTHIKA - Was Cruz in this? Sure don’t remember her in it. Hell, I don’t actually remember this movie all that well. I know it had Halle Berry as a mental patient and that Fred Durst ruined The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” for the soundtrack, but I don’t seem to remember too much about the actual movie. Certainly don’t remember Cruz and…what’s this? Robert Downey Jr was in this too? Am I even sure I’ve seen this? I certainly don’t remember RDJ here. Might need to check this one out again (or for the first time).
WOMAN ON TOP - Say hello to my absolute favorite Penelope Cruz performance. Don’t know of too many people that have actually seen this lovely little rom-com, but its definitely worth checking out if you can find it. Reminds me a bit of the cooking show NIGELLA BITES which reminds me of Nigella Lawson which reminds me of…well, you probably don’t want to know. Just know that this flick is cute as hell and will instantly bring a smile to your face.
NINE - Didn’t see this one, but I’ve been told on very good authority that in does, in fact, suck. Suck hard actually and not in a good way. Heard someone actually reference to this flick as a “black hole of cinema”, a film so bad that it actually hurts other films that surround it on your DVD shelf. No kidding. Place a copy of NINOTCHKA alphabetically next to NINE on your shelf and you might have just rendered one of the finest films ever made into a giant ball of crap. Do you want to besmirch the memory of Greta Garbo? No, I didn’t think so. So, as precaution against injury of better films, let’s pretend like this bad one doesn’t exist. Okay?
NOEL - Oh look, another film worthy of ridicule and mockery. How a movie this schmaltzy and crappy could score a cast as good as this (Cruz, Susan Sarandon, Alan Arkin, Paul Walker, Chazz Palmenteri and an uncredited Robin Williams) is beyond me. This is flick was so bad that it, no kidding, bypassed theaters altogether and went straight-to-TNT. Waste of time for all involved and for you if you watch it.
G-FORCE - Yes, yes, yes, I realize that this was simply a voice credit for Cruz and that I shouldn’t hold it against the other films on her resume because of that. But what can I say? I hated this flick. Talking guinea pigs that are actually spies for the government? Even my eight-year-old nephew Seth went “Um…no”.
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES - Currently in theaters, this pirate pic sequel from the Mouse House brings back Johnny Depp and Geoffrey Rush while adding new cast members Cruz and Ian McShane.