Wednesday, 18 November 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 64

227 - Leon - 4 stars
And it was all going so well. Just at the end of the film, Sting appears to sing the song over the end credits. But let's not dwell on the negative on what is otherwise a great film.
The movie might be called Leon, but the movie succeeds or fails on the performance of Natalie Portman as Mathilda, the young girl who turns to the assassin next door for help when her family is killed.
It is a debut of such intensity, maturity and worrying sensuality (witness her exchange with the hotel manager and her attempted seduction of Leon). It is little wonder that she drew comparisons to a young Jodie Foster whose role in Taxi Driver was similar.
There is fine support from Jean Reno as the professional (something he has been unable to top since his appearances in Hollywood fare like Godzilla), and an over-the-top, crazy Gary Oldman (as was typical of him during the early nineties).
Luc Besson delivers his best film that features a beautiful central relationship, moments of unexpected humour and great action sequences.

89 - Magnolia - 3 stars
Paul Thomas Anderson's Short Cuts. Both have Julianne Moore but she doesn't show her Va-Jay-Jay in this one.
This look at how several lives intersect across one day in L.A., and while its running time is 3 hours, unlike Jesse James, it is well paced. The frequent cutting between storylines helps to keep the movie flowing and credit must be given to the music score which keeps a fast rhythm to the film. The songs provided by Aimee Mann also move the story foward as well.
Anderson assembled a great ensemble cast including some of his regulars; Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but the standout performance actually comes from Tom Cruise.
He is a whirlwind of energy as Frank TJ Mackey, teacher of the Seduce & Destroy programme, demonstrated in his entrance to the 2001 theme "Respect the cock, and tame the c*nt", but equally effective in the quiet moments "what am I doing? I'm quietly judging you"
Sometimes Cruise delivers his best performances when he is not having to deal with the pressure of being the lead (witness his movie stealing role in Tropic Thunder).

361 - Clerks - 3 stars
Clerks was one of those films that had a big impact on my life. It came out around the time I started to work at Toys R Us and I would always watch it on a Friday night before a busy weekend working there, especially around Christmas time when the customers became even more annoying!
Not as good as I remember but still very funny if you have ever worked in retail or the customer service industry.
I'm surprised that Chasing Amy isn't on the list as I consider it be Kevin Smith's best film. Established Jason Lee as one of the best swearers in Hollywood (see also Dennis Farina, Peter Capaldi, anyone in The Departed) and got Ben Affleck's best performance on camera.

Days remaining - 301 Films remaining - 404

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