Thursday, 5 November 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 51 - Remember, remember, the 5th of November...

After a quiet week on the film watching front, I needed to re-energise myself by watching a movie that summed up what this whole challenge is about - a love of cinema.

239 - Cinema Paradiso - 4 stars

Yet another first time viewing, and a film that I'd been meaning to watch ever since I took over at The Belmont.

The whole film is a love letter to the movies, following the relationship between Toto, a film buff and Alfredo, the projectionist at the local cinema. But it is also a foreshadowing of the possible death of cinema. The joy and happiness that small town cinemas bring to the community could be lost due to TV, video, and now DVD, illegal downloads, etc.

I firmly believe that there will always be a place for somewhere like The Belmont as nothing beats the experience of enjoying a great movie on the big screen with an audience.

I am not really a soppy, emotional person and as such I have never cried at a film, and I only remember welling up twice at the cinema. 1 - during the final ride to death in The Last Samurai and 2 - the final video confession of Javier Bardem in The Sea Inside. And in Cinema Paradiso, Toto's reaction to the kissing montage nearly had me going as well, I teared up a bit.

With 400+ films left to watch, will I be able to find a film that reduces me to tears? Maybe... but it certainly won't be Titanic!

As it is November the 5th, there was one film that stood out on the list that should be watched today:

418 - V For Vendetta - 3 stars
A lot of purists who have read the book are not fans of the film but as I've not had a chance to read the graphic novel, I am only able to review it as a film and not an adaptation.
Hugo Weaving delivers a truly great vocal performance as the titular V, especially in his introductory speech to Evey with no less than 43 V words in the solioquey. 
Natalie Portman is also terrific as Evey Hammond, delivering on the promise that she showed in Leon and would replicate in the likes of Garden State and Closer.  Her accent is good, much better than Ewan McGregor's attempts at accents!  She also looks fantastic with a shaved head and may have even inspired Britney Spears's radical haircutting incident a few years ago.
A really good film with something interesting to say about the nature of terrorism, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, it's release was delayed after the 7/7 attacks in London.

There was time for one more film before bedtime and so I continued the Hugo Weaving/Wachowski Brothers link and turned on:

39 - The Matrix - 4 stars
This film is THE film I bought a DVD player for and the one I use every time I need to set up my surround system.  Skip to chapter 29 and the lobby sequence.  Hearing the bullets scatter around the room is the height of home cinema cool.
It is funny to think back to May 1999, when everyone was excited about The Phantom Menace and no one had even heard of The Matrix... but it was Neo, Morpheus, and Trinity that captured the moviegoing public's imagination after the disappointment of the Star Wars prequel.
I hate to use the phrase but it did "raise the bar" in terms of sci-fi with the use of 'bullet time' and the fight choreography by Yuen Woo-Ping.  Keanu Reeves is great as Neo, not really acting at all at being overwhelmed by the situation he is in, and Hugo Weaving created one of the great movie villians in Agent Smith.
It was a shame about the terrible sequels that disappeared somewhere up their own arse.  Yet they did spawn this wonderful sketch starring Will Ferrell.

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