Archive for October 26th, 2009

by Sam Juliano

     I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many people who have sent me moving  condolences for the family tragedy that came to pass last weekend.  All of us went through the most difficult time of our lives.  My own physical discomfort has continued, and I have my procedure scheduled for early this morning, after a postponement.  I have been dazed and aloof all week, and have been away from the computer room, and have spent most of the week at the homes of my 79 year-old father and 39 year-old brother.  I just checked the activity over the past week, and it has been typically outstanding.  Movie Man promised to “hold the fort” and he’s outdone himself in that regard.  But Tony, Dennis, Dave, Dee Dee, Bobby J., John Greco, David S., Bob Clark, Anu, Samuel Wilson and Ari among others have really stepped to the plate for the site.  I feel like a stranger now, but as I have always considered this a communal place, that’s a wonderful thing. 

    I see an impending wager with David Schleicher is imminent, as his Phillies and our Yankees will be meeting in the World Series.  This should be quite a match.

    I finally went out with Lucille over the weekend, as we had tickets that were purchased weeks in advance.  We went to a Saturday afternoon staging of Frank Galati’s The Grapes of Wrath, based on Steinbeck’s masterpiece, by the New Jersey Shakespeare Society in Madison, New Jersey.  The show was passable, but was rather dull, and conventionally performed.

     I saw Lars Von Trier’s Anti-Christ on Saturday with Lucille and Broadway Bob, and I must admit I was in no state of mind to endure what was probably the bleakest and most disturbing film I have ever seen in my life.  But I’m inclined to say that it’s still a masterpiece.

     Anti-Christ **** 1/2 (Saturday night; IFC Film Center)

     My apologies for not posting links this week, but I have been floored by what has transpired and am most uncomfortable.

     As always, everyone is asked to talk about what they saw, read, listen to, ate.  Sports and politics are on the table as well.

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leon 1

(US/France 1994/1996 132m) DVD1/2

Aka. The Professional

Me, Natalie!

p/d/w  Luc Besson  ph  Thierry Arbogast  ed  Sylvie Landra  m  Eric Serra  art  Dan Weil

Jean Reno (Leon), Natalie Portman (Mathilda), Gary Oldman (Stansfield), Danny Aiello (Big Tony), Peter Appel, Michael Badalucco, Ellen Greene, Elizabeth Regen,

Every so often someone appears on screen for the first time and you say to yourself “God, the camera loves you.”  One such moment came here with the arrival onscreen of Natalie Portman, her legs dangling between the railings of her upper floor apartment landing.  She looks a moppet, you just know this girl is wise beyond her years, but what we perhaps don’t expect is the most fearlessly precocious performance from a thirteen year old in American film since Jodie Foster.  The similarity even stretched to both showing an inherent disregard for acting in their formative late teen years and turning towards academia to prove the fierce intelligence their performances had already told those with eyes to see.  Besson knew she was on the verge, too, always dressing her in shorts and minis, with that Louise Brooks bob.  It’s perhaps the knowing attitude towards Portman’s budding sexuality that made the film so disturbing to some critics. 

            The eponymous Leon is a hitman, or a cleaner as he terms it, hired out by a Little Italy bigwig for various termination jobs.  One day his solitary life is gate-crashed by thirteen year old Mathilda, who he lets into his flat to save her life when her family are all killed by corrupt narcotics cops after a stash hidden by Mathilda’s father.  He warms to Mathilda, but his protection starts to erode his anonymity and eventually Mathilda’s desire for vengeance on the bad guys result in Leon making a fateful decision. (more…)

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