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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Highlights of European Version of Leon/The Professional

The European version has more scenes of Leon and Matilda going out on their hit jobs, and it's more darkly funny, as well as developing their relationship more closely beyond the scenes in his apartment or the hotel room. The scene where they go on their first job together and he's coaching her as the target looks confused as hell was funny. I could see why Portman's parents had requested some scenes to be cut, as there are moments where Matilda is flirting with Leon and trying to kiss him and he backs off. There is a good scene in a restaurant where they go out to celebrate a successful hit and she's getting drunk on champagne and alternating between acting like a giggly little kid and trying to act like what she thinks a grown, mature lover would be like, which comes off as uncomfortable as you'd think.

It is weird to write about it without it sounding gross, but in context, it made sense. I also really liked a scene that goes into Leon's backstory with an old girlfriend of his from his youth, explaining part of his reason why he is resistant to love and keeps to himself a lot with few friends. It's a great movie, but these extra scenes made it even better for me.

Selma - A Film Review

I saw Selma last month. It was very good. It was very sad, obviously, but the scenes of activists pushing to have voting rights for black citizens of Selma were powerful and heavy to watch. I thought the film portrayed King in a very fair and humanistic way, showing him as a real man and not as an untouchable saint. David Oyelowo was incredible in this. I also really liked the actors who played his fellow activists (even Common, who I didn't think could act before), Carmen Ejogo's stirring performance as Coretta Scott King, and Tim Roth was very good as George Wallace. Oprah Winfrey was also very good in her small but pivotal role, and I was happy to read that her character was based on a real person who fought back against bigotry and lived to be 100 years old.
Afterwards, I looked up some of the civil rights activists who were portrayed in the film, and appreciated the film's rich attention to detail, despite it's controversies over the portrayal of LBJ. I knew about the Selma march, the Birmingham Church bombing, and one of the white activists who died, but didn't know the inner story or more history about the civil rights activists who aren't household names. So this film was very educational to watch.
It is a shame it didn't win Best Picture. I liked Birdman, but didn't think it was the best movie of the year. And it is a shame that it wasn't nominated in the directing and a ting categories. I am happy to see that Ava DuVernay, who had been a big success at Sundance and in the indie world, got people like Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt, amidst others, to produce her film and make it seen nationwide, that is awesome for an indie film director. The film will probably be shown in schools for years to come, and that is a very good way to further educate youth on the civil rights movement.

Raves About Christopher Walken in The Prophecy movies

Christopher Walken as Gabriel in The Prophecy and its sequel does some of his best work ever. I know these movies got mixed to bad reviews, but I really like the urban fantasy story of angels warring with each other and humans getting caught in the crossfire. Walken is just great as Gabriel, a dark angel wreaking havoc on earth. Even when he has his trademark Walkenisms (awkward pauses, stuttering, random high voice inflection on words), he still brings menace and intimidation to the role, and makes him both evil and sympathetic at the same time. I think the first two movies are awesome, due to Walken's performance, the dark fantasy elements, and the solid casts.

The Prophecy movies, as they progressed, went from having a talented cast (the first movie had Elias Koteas, Viggo Mortensen, Eric Stoltz, and Virginia Madsen) to a marginally talented cast (the last movie had Kari Wuhrer, Jason London, and Jason Scott Lee). The second movie had Russell Wong, Jennifer Beals, and Brittany Murphy in it, and while they were more b-level, I still thought they were all good in it. I even appreciated how the heroes were racially diverse (Beals' character is Hispanic; Wong's character is an angel, but played by an actor of white European and Chinese descent). Walken just delivered a great performance in these movies, even if they were seen as low-rent dark thrillers about angels warring with each other. He is fantastic.