Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salma Hayek, That's a Wrap

A chicken wrap.  Sexy Salma Hayek has added heat to the meat in Burger King® commercials.  I saw her in one today.  She ordered healthy, lower calorie items like the chicken wraps.  Yes, in the commercial, the presence of hot Ms. Hayek made every male Burger King counter clerk want to toss a salad personally just to make her a satisfied customer.  It's a very playful, entertaining and effective TV spot.  I don't usually go to Burger King.  Now I want to.  And I want a tossed salad.
And she's promoting the Burger King® Fresh menu for those watching their figures.  Imagine if she was pushing Whoopers.  With Salma in mind, I want to suggest a little-seen performance of hers to you Hayek fans.  She sizzles.  She's sexy.  She's psychotic.  She plays a cold-blooded killer in the 2006 movie, Lonely Hearts.  This is based on a real-life murder case from the late 1940s.  Martha Beck and her lover, Raymond Fernandez, were executed in prison for their crimes.  The press dubbed them the "Lonely Hearts Killers."  The two homicidal lovers posed as brother and sister when they bilked widows and spinsters out of their money and killed them.  Salma plays Martha as totally demented in her desire for money.
This is a wicked, wicked woman.  She'd teabag Satan for $10,000 cash.  That's how unscrupulous she is.  Like femme fatale movie dames from Barbara Stanwyck's Phyllis in the 1944 classic, Double Indemnity to Kathleen Turner's Matty in 1981's Body Heat, Martha uses sex to get what she wants.  Hayek's performance cannot eclipse the film noir fabulousness of Stanwyck in Double Indemnity but it's kinda fun to see her so bat-shit crazy and sexually charged.  When this film was finally released, it got scant promotion and played an arthouse cinema in downtown Manhattan for a week or two.  It wasn't treated like a major release.  Odd, considering it stars John Travolta and James Gandolfini as the two real-life New York detectives trying to solve this difficult case.  The two actors worked well together.  They looked like they should've starred in a new HBO series called Bear Cops.  Those characters were two burly detectives.
The biggest revelation in Lonely Hearts is Jared Leto as Ray, Martha's partner in crime.  Part psycho, part wide-eye chump, he's excellent as the con man who lets Martha lead him by the penis to the electric chair.
Leto delivered one of those good performances in a small indie film that went largely unnoticed.  This isn't a great movie.  For the time period covered in this crime story, Lonely Hearts is not in a league with L.A. Confidential.  But it's not bad either.  A better movie based on the two murderers was made in 1969 with a blazingly good performance by the late Shirley Stoler as the lethal, jealous Martha.  Tony Lo Bianco co-starred as her handsome Ray in The Honeymoon Killers.  Stoler is American film's most memorable full-figure femme fatale.  This black and white, low budget, high-octane indie film is a must-see.  It's darkly fascinating.
Stoler was an acquaintance of mine.  In the early 1990s, I was happily a part-time clerk at an independent video store in the Chelsea section of downtown Manhattan.  A lot of actors were Video Blitz customers.  Shirley was a regular.  She'd come in.  We'd give her a stool.  She'd sit down, hang out and chat for half an hour about life and movies.  She was a bit eccentric but warm and wonderful.  Shirley was a great listener.  Such power as an actress!  Power that could be summoned up and overcome her physical ailments of later years.  Critics hailed her Martha work in The Honeymoon Killers.
She and Lo Bianco were so deliciously nasty in this movie.  To me, Lo Bianco is a good actor who should've gotten some of the scripts that were automatically sent to Robert De Niro.  He's a solid match for Stoler in this movie.  Good casting. His Ray Fernandez registers as both sexual powerhouse and a man who is sexually controlled by his lover, Martha.  This maniac role was a knock-out film debut for Shirley Stoler.
By the way, the real murderess Martha Beck had a physique that bore more of a resemblance to plus-sized Shirley Stoler's than Salma Hayek's.
Hayek, playing Martha as a gorgeous and homicidal sex toy in Lonely Hearts, probably got a chance to exercise some new muscles acting-wise.  Her look is more contemporary in how it fits the Hollywood stereotype of what sexually appealing women look like.  In that regard, the casting of Stoler as the object of sexual desire in the The Honeymoon Killers was a bold move that feels fresh today.  The 2006 version follows the two detectives covering the case.  The 1969 version of the Beck and Fernandez story does not.
Salma Hayek has a Best Actress Oscar nomination to her credit for a playing another real-life character.  This one was respectable and contributed to the arts.  She starred as renowned Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in the 2002 bio pic, Frida.
With that performance, Salma Hayek joined the small, elite club of women who have been directed to a Best Actress Academy Award nomination by another woman.  Frida was directed by Julie Taymor.  From Ruth Chatterton in Dorothy Arzner's 1930 film, Sarah and Son to Meryl Streep in 2011's The Iron Lady directed by Phyllida Lloyd, it's a significant group in Hollywood history.  Julie Christie, Holly Hunter, Charlize Theron and Jennifer Lawrence are other actresses with that Oscar nomination distinction.

3 comments:

  1. I don't usually eat salad but for her I might make an exception.

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