Leon (Besson, 1994)

Leon Poster

“Is life always this hard, or is it just when you’re a kid? Every child has must of said this at least once in their life, whether it be about school or getting a ‘telling off’ from a parent. In Leon however, when a 12 year old child says it, it’s because her dad has just punched her in the face and her nose is bleeding. Hearing those words at the beginning of the film makes it more intense and you can feel your heart-strings being pulled already. Leon is similar to Man on Fire; as yet again it is a child that gives an assassin the will to love. Leon (played by Jean Reno) is socially awkward and when the whirlwind of Mathilda (played by Natalie Portman) enters his life one day, he teaches her the only thing he knows:  the art of killing.

How to use a sniper

How to use a sniper

“I take no pleasure in taking life if it’s from a person who doesn’t care about it.” Luc Besson has once again made a film in which a woman wields a gun which seems to be a consistent theme e.g. Nikita, The Fifth Element. For being such a dark film, the surroundings are surprisingly quite homely & colourful – the park scene, the training scenes; just the overall feel of the film. This is quite the contrast as the viewer knows that what we are watching is not meant to be glorified, especially the relationship between Leon & Mathilda. As Mathilda hasn’t had the best father figure in the world, she seems to uphold Leon in high esteem and develops feelings that she thinks is love for him as he is the first male to be kind to her. Leon loves her in his own special way, especially as she has given him a new take on life.

Saying goodbye

Saying goodbye

“If you saved my life, you must have saved it for a good reason.” Leon doesn’t actually cry but the emotion-filled scene when he sending Mathilda away to live another day instead of dying with him is pretty intense. We can feel how attached he has become to her and all he wants for her now is to have a normal life and I sense that he is returning the favour: saving her life like she did for him. We feel an attachment to Leon as we watch him watch old classics by himself, giving his plant all the care & attention in the world. All the actors perform brilliantly at their roles; most especially Gary Oldman (who played Stansfield) gets all the quirks and facial expressions of a mad, corrupt cop down to a tee.

Leon is another drama/thriller film where we don’t expect the main protagonist to have such deep feelings inside them. An explosion 110 minutes of how love changes everyone, even men who kill for a living.

Advertisements

Dirty Dancing (Ardolino, 1986)

                                                                                         

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.” The iconic line from one of the cheesiest dancing films made before Mamma Mia. Everyone knows that Dirty Dancing is the movie you put on when it’s a cold night and you want a film to make you laugh and get up to join along with some of the dance moves. Sadly, no tears are shed by Johnny (played by Patrick Swayze) as he falls in love with ‘Baby’ (played by Jennifer Grey) and realises his true potential and that there is someone out there who loves him for who he is: a summer dance instructor. If there was ever an ACTUAL sequel, not Dirty Dancing 2, maybe tears may arise then when he realises that it was just a summer romance and true love doesn’t conquer all.

“Go back to your playpen, Baby. ” Emile Ardolino has directed a good film in which you feel like you too are experiencing a summer romance and rebelling against Mommy and Daddy wishes. Baby is always wearing dresses in pastel colours and doesn’t seem to be noticed by her own generation to Johnny, who has the ever classic bad-boy persona who parents on a whole just seem to instantly dislike, seems to be an accurate portrayal of upper-class Americans in the 60’s. Near tears do come from Baby’s dad as he realises that his youngest daughter is growing up, falling in love and having a mind of her own. The POV shot where Baby sees “dirty dancing” for the first time as the camera focuses on couples around the room and the reaction shot that follows has to be the one of the best scenes shot throughout the film. We can literally feel Baby’s’ disgust and awkwardness as she wonders how much she has been missing out on life.

If anything is taken away from this film, let it be that we do not see a male actually cry. Dirty Dancing is a good film to watch with the girls or your boyfriend if you manage to persuade him as a smile is always guaranteed at the end.

Man On Fire (Scott, 2004)

  

“I love you, Creasy. And you love me too, don’t you?”  The words from a nine-year-old girl who ends up protecting a bodyguard – opposite roles surprisingly. Man on Fire is not your typical action/thriller movie where all the bad guys die for kidnapping a child & justice is served. The added touch to this is quite simple: Creasy (played by Denzel Washington) sheds a single tear that just brings the film to full circle. That lonesome tear speaks much louder than words. Some may go into depth explaining the full meaning, saying it represents Creasy finally opening up his soul to Pita (played by Dakota Fanning) or that he finally understands the true meaning of love. Maybe it is, maybe isn’t. I just think finally a guy is crying. It isn’t often you see a guy crying in a romance film, let along an action film. Usually they have to uphold their manliness, be the tough guy who ends up getting cried ON, not being the crier.

“Creasy’s art is death. He’s about to paint his masterpiece.” Tony Scott has managed to somehow create a dark, gritty atmosphere without overdoing it and turning the film into a predictable horror. There are many violent scenes with blood spurting out of cut-off fingers, car crashes, men being tortured practically to death. Scott has managed to slot these scenes in with many close-up shots at a choppy pace, in which I think keeps the audience in tune with what is being played on the screen. Many films have been switched off or fell asleep on because the pace is too slow, or too fast in which the audience cannot comprehend what is taking place. Too many close-up shots of eyes & mouths has been said to downgrade a film but technically, it showcases the skill of both the director & cameraman.

“Forgiveness is between them & God. It’s my job to arrange the meeting.” Personally, I think it is the music that gives Man on Fire a kickstart to your emotions. It heightens them, leaving you a little bit drained at the end of the viewing: drained, but still a sense of accomplishment remains. It propels the story forward.  Some may say that when a film is longer than 2 hours it seems to drag on, Man on Fire hits the right timeframe as there is never a point which leaves you thinking: ‘oh, I want it to end here.” This is by far one of my favourite films as every showing uncovers something I didn’t see in the first viewing. Both Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning gives a performance of their lives which moves me in many emotional ways.

Teaching

Teaching

“She showed him it was alright to live again.” Happy endings. Most Hollywood films nowadays have to have a happy ending where everything is resolved & people go back to their normal original lives before any drama happened. Not Man on Fire. The kidnapping is resolved but not everyone goes back to their average lives: not Creasy, not Pita. The man who has shed the tear is the last scene literally has protected Pita with his life. In which he should as Pita was, let’s be fair: ‘his shining light throughout the darkness of his soul’. Best displayed in the scene where the bullet failed to put Creasy out of his misery and while he is outside in the rain, Pita is seen in the window of her bedroom with the light streaming out behind her. She is the hope that saves him and gives him the will to live to live another day.

A good film is hard to find in where the main male protagonist cries. Man on Fire definitely achieves that while giving the viewer a filled 146 minutes of action with a tinge of emotion.