Day 213 & Day 214 & Day 215 – Leon: The Professional & Boyhood & Selma

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Movie Title: Leon: The Professional

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 50 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Stephie and Kyle

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Leon (Jean Reno) is a hitman and he is damn good at his job. The movie begins with Leon following out a hit on the Italian gangs local rival encroaching on his territory. He moves in like a phantom and executes the hit with precision. Leon leads a solitary life. He cares for his plant and carries out a vigorous routine. All this is interrupted when Stansfield (Gary Oldman) a corrupt DEA agent conducts a hit in the apartment down the hall from Leon.

The man next door has been skimming drugs from Stansfield and he takes exception. He kills him, his wife, his four year old son, and his teenage daughter. The only person to escape is Mathilda. Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is street smart and quickly taken in by Leon. Mathilda wants revenge and insists that Leon teaches her the hitman’s trade. Embroiled in this situation is Tony (Danny Aiello) who acts as Leon’s handler and holds his money for him. Leon is illiterate and counts on Tony to be honest with him. In reality there is likely no money and Tony has been robbing Leon blind.

Mathilda gets caught pursuing Stansfield and Leon seeks to resolve the situation leading these four characters into life or death conflict. It builds to a dramatic conclusion that dramatically alters all of their lives.

Verdict:

It is a fun, book ended with action, and at times a disturbing movie. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Boyhood (2014)

 

Movie Title: Boyhood

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 2 hr. 45 min.

Rated: R

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Boyhood is an innovative movie. It follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) from elementary school to adulthood. Ellar Coltrane plays Mason throughout as the movie was recorded over the course of twelve years. The performance by Ellar Coltrane is subdued, but remarkable for the breadth of time covered in the movie. The child performance of Coltrane is stronger than his later performance, but I think that was more because of the direction of the movie rather than the acting chops of the performer. Ethan Hawke plays Mason’s father very well and Patricia Arquette plays Mason’s mother though with little character evolution. Mason’s sister Samantha is played by Lorelei Linklater who also plays the same character over the course of twelve years. She is a relatively flat character, but does her job well.

The movie is heavily performance based and relies heavily on the concept. The story is not sensational and presents as a realistic portrayal of growing up which is a nice change of pace. Mason’s mom moves from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. She pursues an education and eventually improves the family’s overall station in life. Mason’s dad is an aspiring musician that lives like he has no responsibilities. He becomes more involved in their lives as he gets older. Mason and Samantha turn out pretty well considering the hardships of their youth.

Verdict:

The concept is well executed and fun to watch. Don’t expect sensationalism. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Selma (2014)

 

Movie Title: Selma

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 2 hr. 8 min.

Rated: PG-13

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King’s work in Alabama building up to the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. It is a performance driven movie and David Oyelowo does a beautiful job portraying Martin Luther King Jr. There are various minor roles played exceptionally well. Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King well. Oprah Winfrey has a small turn as Annie Lee Cooper. Tom Wilkinson plays President Lyndon Johnson with presidential poise. Giovanni Ribisi plays Johnson advisor Lee White like a snake. Common plays James Bevel with fervor. Dylan Baker plays J. Edgar Hoover with the virile hatred that was rife in the actual man. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a small role. Stephan James played future congressman John Lewis beautifully. Best of all is Tim Roth as Governor George Wallace with frothing conniving and racism.

Selma documents the tragedies that occurred in Selma building up to the march and the march itself. It covers the bombing of a church that resulted in the deaths of black children, it covers his meetings with the President, it covers the abuse and deaths of marchers in Selma, it covers King’s infidelities, and it covers the issues that led to the civil rights movement from abuse to blocking of voting rights. The frame narrative used in the film is also excellent. It revolves around incidents that were documented using FBI surveillance. It is a very effective narrative tool. The brutality of the march and King’s role in it is clear. It builds to a great climax and Oyelowo carries the movie through his performance and charism.

Verdict:

It is an excellent educational movie and poignant for our times. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

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