Recent Purchases

I just remembered I had a 50 dollar gift card to Best Buy from Christmas. Being as broke as I currently am, I decided the only way I was going to be able to get any movies before I went nuts was to use said giftcard.

So I headed to Best Buy and picked up three flicks- after much deliberation of course.

Well, my overall choices weren’t awful, and I’m happy to report I picked up three of my favorite movies for just over forty bucks. So I’ll give my readers a low-down on these three movies, and why I think each one of them is great to the nth degree.

    Glengarry Glenn Ross

With a cast including Al Pacino, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin (a current Oscar Nominee for Little Miss Sunshine), Alec Baldwin and the late-great Jack Lemmon, you couldn’t ask for a more virile and alive group of performances. Granted, the whole movie is about real-estate, a job I was constantly surrounded by as a kid, seeing as my dad was one of the best agents in the county for some time. The job of a Real-Estate agent is to sell a property to an unsuspecting client for the highest price possible. In this film, it opens with the four men’s jobs on the line, being kicked around by Alec Baldwin and being told they are the most useless people on Earth. If they don’t have the “brass balls” to sell, sell, sell, they will all be fired within two weeks and in a lot of trouble with the women folk. What unfolds is a character drama and comedy about how you pretty much have to charm your way through this lifestyle. The performances, for which only Pacino recieved an Oscar nod, but Lemmon probably should have won something for (though apparently he won the Venice Film Festival award for best actor, an Oscar nod was more than deserved, even over Pacino), are some of the most intense and hypnotic displays of acting I’ve ever seen. They were so good, in fact, that each actor would come by the set even on his day off to watch the others perform. Truly, truly breath taking. If you want to see a group of masters working their best at their craft, GET THIS FILM. Four stars.

    ALIENS

I’ve actually been meaning to get this movie for a long, long while. In 1986 this little ol’ epic came out and literally changed the sci-fi genre forever. Ever watched a really bad Sci-Fi Channel movie, like Aracnids or Sabertooth or The Fly 2? All of them, every single Sci Fi movie featuring some sort of monster, has been influenced by this film since 1986. That is twenty years of movies all hoping to achieve what this film did: two and a half hours of well-paced, exciting, scary, dramatic, intelligent, emotional action and suspense with great acting, great characters (some of which would become archetypes- more on that in a second), and all rounded out with some of the BEST special effects of all time- regardless of the fact that it used nearly no CG at the time. With two Oscars under its belt for effects, and five other nominations for Acting (Sigourney Weaver), Editing, Score, and a few other techs, this film is the pinnacle of the sci-fi action flick genre. After the first film, Ellen Ripley (Weaver) is woken from cryo sleep, 57 years in the future. She is then sent to help discover what happened to the very planet upon which her crew found the first alien lifeform- the Xenomorph. Capable of taking over and feeding upon entire colonies worth of people, this creature is part ant colony, part body snatcher, and all evil (not to mention designed by shock-gothic artist H.R. Giger). The creatures we got in AVP a few years back were crumbs from this loaf of truly evil bread. EVIL. Well, Ripley has become a very important archetype in film history: the female heroine, stronger than all the men around her who fights a maternal fight for the good of humanity. There’s a really touching bit of character development in here, and with the special edition version I purchased, an extra scene that helps strengthen her reasons for protecting the young survivor, Newt, from the alien horde with every single breath of life she has. Great performances all around, insane monster effects that are still yet to be matched even with today’s CGI bullsh*t, Aliens is a true, bonafied classic that has a big nostalgia factor for me- though its rated R and very violent, my mom MADE me watch it as a kid. I’ll never be able to thank her enough! FOUR STARS!

    The Professional AKA Leon

It seems all the movies I’ve chosen thus far have at least one thing in common- they were all made between 1985 and 1995- at least five or six years before I would start pouring myself into a film-based mindset. The Professional deals with a 12 year old Natalie Portman who, if i had seen this movie when I was anywhere from nine to thirteen, I would have fallen drastically in love with. At present, though, the last decent thing I’ve seen her in had her playing a bald terrorist. Not my kinda chick. Regardless of her not fitting into any of my fantasies, her acting as an eleven to twelve year old Hitman In Training (or is it Hit girl…Hitwoman…hmmm), is something all child actors should aspire to and if they can’t they can go back to the Mickey Mouse club and end up singing for boy bands or marrying hideous redneck rappers. Portman’s character, Mathilda, who is as synonymous now with her genre as the Lolita character is with horrorific drama, is a strong-willed young girl whose parents and siblings have just been gunned down by rogue DEA agents. The DEA agents are headed up by Norman Stansfield, played to the most evil of degrees by one Gary Oldman. You may have heard of him. However, no role you have seen him in will prepare you for just how damned creepy his character is. Though he works for a government branch, he goes around killing families when he feels annoyed, and has no lack of psychotic tendancies. His opponent in this film? French actor Jean Reno, who you’ve probably only seen in the awful Godzilla by Roland Emmerich. Jean Reno plays the title character, a hitman for hire that cleans up the messes left by Italian Mob Boss Tony, played with exceptional charisma by the great Danny Aiello. Leon is one-half Travis Bickle and one-half Lone Wolf and Cub. He takes on jobs, spends his money very lightly at old Gene Kelly flicks, has no real friends and the emotional abilties and maturity of a young teenage boy. When Mathilda enters into his life during a very emotional rescue seen, that unlike most flicks is just as simple as opening your front door, she ends up falling in love with him and the creepy meter goes from zero to the aforementioned Lolita in less than thirty minutes. Luckily for the viewers, Leon has no REAL physical interest in the girl- it’s all emotional and the two actors make it feel entirely genuine from both sides. What starts as an Untouchable-Hitman-Kills-People-in-Really-Awesome-Ways movie changes tracks and becomes a sympathetic love-story of character development and learning what it truly means to live. It has the potential to be a revenge flick, but by the end becomes more of a depiction of the bond between a father figure and a lost child. Touching, and not so deep as to come off as melodramatic (though the 12 year old girl is that to the natural degree, saying things such as “If you don’t help me, I know I’ll die tonight. I can feel it.” But it’s essential to the character), with an explosive ending that is a real tear jerker, you’ve got another Luc Besson (the director) classic. He’s truly one of my heroes, if for no other fact than he is always his own camera operator- something I hope to do with my career behind the lens.

Well that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll have my net up soon so I can start posting more often again. If you haven’t seen any of these flicks, I think it goes without saying that I HIGHLY RECOMMEND them. Later, readers!

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