Monday, June 7, 2010

Keoma [1976]

I really like the direction of Keoma – not a traditional narrative – a lot of flashbacks and flash-forwards in the story keep it fresh. Interesting plot – not sure of Keoma’s motivations – but like it that way.

Dialogue's lacking a bit... Kind of a blunt force instrument in such an interesting plot - story... This could be a classic up there with the Leone/Eastwood films if there was a bit more strong silent moments.

Not sure if I buy Franco Nero as a half-breed anything – but maybe they just refer to him as that because he’s a half-brother to the 3 main villains... But I don’t think everyone would call him that.

Other than Morgan Freeman in my favorite film of all time – Unforgiven – is there another Western where a black character is such a strong figure with a pivotal role? Liked seeing that in Keoma.

Nero doesn’t have a Jesus complex or anything – being crucified to a wagon wheel is just a coincidence. Coming from the land of Billy Corgan – I kid of course – Nero is a badass not afraid to act and throw himself into a role. Modern Hollywood pansy action stars could learn a thing or two.

I really hate off key singing in the soundtrack that also doubles as a way for the director to be purposely vague – because the singer will sing part of the plot.

Me: “Who’s that character?”
Singer: “Father – that’s my father…” (not that much of an exaggeration)

Not sure if it’s the way Nero wears his hair up like that – but his head looks massive! He might just want to chomp his step-brothers in half!

Good action and stunts – good camera work – and build-ups in tension. Satisfying strange and wonderful climax... Not sure I expected that - cool.

I’ll wander off and give this a 4 out of 5 – something I’ll watch again – it’s a bit mystical and spiritual and out there for a western – but that’s good – not as good as Django or The Great Silence – but better than most.

[directed by Enzo G. Castellari]

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Léon [1994]

Leon (The Professional) – is one of those films that I’ve liked – but even though my policy is to own only the movies that I really like – I purchased the special edition. It was a bit overkill at the time – because when I watched it – I thought it was still just only good – and probably a renter – not a keeper.

I rewatched it yesterday – while I was in a really good mood – and began to notice things – and felt the tension of Mathilda standing at Leon’s doorway. I didn’t just see their relationship as disturbing – but as both a mock to the traditional action film – where an adult woman is basically a child needing the hero to save her – and mutually beneficial for the both of them to grow as characters (though I still squirmed a little).

I find Gary Oldman’s scene chewing – to always be a pleasure – so to rewatch Leon and see Oldman’s villain character in all his oddball glory was nice (still kind of wished I saw more of that character’s antics – but the movie isn’t called Leon for nothing). This was the extended edition – and I thought maybe the fact that I wasn’t impressed stemmed from the fact that there was too much in the film – but now see it as necessary and pertinent.

The direction was really nice – interesting framing – keeping you wanting to see around a corner, around a wall or over a hill to understand more about these unique characters. It’s direction that kind of helps you want to like the characters as opposed to just showing you them. The thugs were comically outdated of course – due to this being an early 90’s film – and half of the thugs looked like they belonged shooting at John McClane in Die Hard.

The acting by Jean Reno and Natalie Portman was excellent – Portman shows a lot of promise as an actress even at such a young age. The action was mixed in fairly well – though this film isn’t about action – I wanted more of Luc Besson’s typical over the top variety of excellent action.

Overall – I’m happy to say that this film has upgraded its rating to a solid 4 – and if I believed in such a thing there would be a half that followed it.

[directed by Luc Besson]