Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Evita (1997)

Release Date:
10 Jan 1997 (USA)

Alan Parker

Tim Rice (book)
Alan Parker (screenplay)

Madonna (Eva Perón)
Antonio Banderas (Ché)
Jonathan Pryce (Juan Perón)

IMDb link and rating:

(viewed FR 8 Feb 2008)
On the whole, the movie was better than I expected it would be. I’m not a big fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, with its insipid “four-on-the-floor” drum kit base driving pseudo-pop orchestral arrangements that don’t depart very far from Disney princess songs. The popular and over-played main theme (“Don’t cry for me, Argentina”) and the dreadfully boring ballads did nothing to improve that opinion. I know a lot of people like it but it seems very pedestrian to me.

On the other hand, much to my surprise the rest of the music was actually pretty interesting. In particular, I like the Latino-influenced tune that played as Eva first entered Buenos Aires; the song sung by Eva (a good performance by Madonna) when she meets Perón; the dance scene (during Eva’s anesthetization) with Antonio Banderas and Madonna, which featured not only a good tune but dramatic visuals – a bare dance hall, sharp angles of the floor design and shadows, and intense movements of the couple. The cinematography throughout the film was very good, conveying the weight of the hungry masses, mounted soldiers, and the cult of personality.

Jonathan Pryce can’t sing too well but played Perón convincingly as more of an opportunistic than evil dictator and genuinely in love with his wife. Antonio Banderas actually can sing and he was thoroughly engaging as always. He is definitely one my favorite actors.

I think I heard somewhere that Madonna was disappointed with the reception Evita got; she thought either the movie itself or her personal performance did not receive sufficient acclaim. I can see her point. It’s not that I thought she was necessarily brilliant – she was good, not great – but I can appreciate how much effort everybody put into the production. It is understandable how she could get caught up in that and think this was a great epic. (It was not.)

(viewed FR 8 Feb 2008)
I found the whole movie to be a little boring. I was interested in the story of the rise of Eva Peron to national icon, but hated all that singing! Seriously, I dislike when the entire story is told in forced songs – unlike Sound of Music where the songs add to the story. I was surprised that Madonna’s dance abilities were not put to better use. She did a fine job as did Jonathan Pryce, but I really do enjoy Antonio Banderas in all forms, and this was no exception.

Action Items:
Perhaps rewatch Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown and watch Zorro.

Supplementary Details:

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