Skip to main content

Posts

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #227: Léon

Now this is a tough movie to review in the post #MeToo era. Luc Besson’s Léon (1994) is a terrific action movie that launched Natalie Portman’s career, introduced French actor Jean Reno to American audiences and gave us another great villain performance from Gary Oldman. The problem is it suggests at times a romantic relationship between an underage girl and a grown man, which was apparently based on Besson’s relationship with his first wife who was 15 when they began dating. Making matters much, much worse, this year Besson has been accused of rape, sexual assault, harassment and workplace abuse (https://bit.ly/2JHi5he).
I still want to get through this list of greatest films, and then possibly move on to another one, so I can’t just strike off a movie because one person who helped get it to the screen has been accused of a crime. Sadly, that would mean I would have to take at least 100 out of 500 movies off the list. Alfred Hitchcock alone would negate a bunch of movies, if only for…
Recent posts

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #63: Sunset Boulevard

Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950) is a true piece of cinema history. For one thing it is classic film noir, a genre rarely seen nowadays, and for another the cast if filled with actors and key players from a bygone era. It also helps that the plot is highly memorable to the point that 50 years later it has been parodied or referenced by shows such as Twin Peaks and even Tiny Toon Adventures. That’s a sign of cultural significance as far as I am concerned.
The ideal place to watch this movie would be in a classroom on cinema history, and if I recall well that is exactly what I did around nine years ago in Vancouver. The course was Hollywood cinema 1930-1960, a perfect time frame for Sunset Boulevard since it features cameos by Buster Keaton and other actors of the silent films that ran in the 1930s, and iconic director Cecil B. DeMille, who is responsible for a few classics himself. The movie’s lead female character is movie star from the bygone era of the silent films, but her tr…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #261: Roman Holiday

One of the biggest pop culture events of 2018 so far has been the marriage of American actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry of the British royal family. From what I casually glimpsed on the news (and on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver) it looked like a beautiful ceremony, but one has to wonder if Meghan Markle really knows what she has gotten herself into. Given the scrutiny the royal family lives under, years from now the new duchess may want to do what Audrey Hepburn’s fictional princess does in the William Wyler classic Roman Holiday (1953) and run away for a day.
When I found this movie on Netflix I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was for various reasons. For one it allows you to visit all of the tourist hotspots in Rome without having to get on airplane. Then there is the historical significance of this being Audrey Hepburn’s breakout role. I also liked the movie’s reminder that royals are, yes, just like us. Sure their jobs are outdated and some would argue useless, b…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #64: Oldboy

One thing I have noticed from the few Korean films I have seen so far is that Korean cinema really doesn’t hold back. One of that country’s most critically acclaimed and commercially successful movie is Oldboy (2003), which has amazing performances, beautifully choreographed fight scenes and a story filled with many twists and turns. It also has plenty of scenes that will make you squirm whether because of graphic violence, very disturbing revelation, or because you prefer your calamari fried instead of alive.
This was one of the last movies I rented from a video store in the pre-Netflix days in early 2009. By then its reputation had grown in the west especially since on top of the many awards it had won it had also earned high praise from Quentin Tarantino who knows a thing or two about violent and entertaining movies. On paper Oldboy’s plot sounds like something right up his alley: a man is seemingly wronged by an adversary and that man then seeks bloody retribution. However while T…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #263: Das Boot

Submarine movies are practically their own genre and Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot (1981) is without a doubt one of the best movies in this genre. As the story unfolds you feel the claustrophobia of the crew as they are tossed inside a giant can of sardine that is sinking deeper and deeper into the ocean, and you can practically smell the salt water leaking inside the boat. You also root for this crew despite the fact they are Germans manning a U-boat in World War II and are therefore working for the bad guys.
Petersen has supervised different versions of Das Boot and the one I saw was the 209-minute director’s cut. It definitely requires the viewer to take an afternoon and a whole bag of popcorn to see it in one sitting, but a longer version is definitely beneficial to truly be immersed in the experience. By going on a long journey with these characters you get to know them before they get inside their submarine, empathize with them when things start going wrong and hope some of them …

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #65: Harold and Maude

I thoroughly enjoy cult movies as well as movies that colour outside the lines and Hal Ashby’s Harold and Maude (1971) checks off those two boxes with a big fat checkmark. Like many cult movies it was a commercial failure when first released, which is not too surprising considering it is a comedy that deals with death, suicide and a romantic relationship between an 18-year-old man and a 79-year-old woman. Despite the grim subject matter it is an often funny, and yes, romantic movie.
Unlike cult films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show I don’t think there are any midnight showings of Harold and Maude so it took me a while to even hear about it. I first read about it in Empire magazine and the premise definitely struck me as unique. You can easily pitch a movie about superheroes, spies, or romance, but how do you sell a movie about a senior citizen who steals police motorcycles and a young man who fakes elaborate suicides? Thanks to good old Netflix I managed to finally see it a few year…

Empire Magazine (2008) Greatest Movies List - #30: Aliens

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes a movie can change a person. For me that movie was James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), a movie that made an action icon out of Sigourney Weaver after pitting her against an army of nightmarish creatures and their giant queen. This movie came out the year I was born and while I was growing up it increased in popularity achieving classic stardom as a science fiction, action and horror film. Unfortunately while I was growing up I must admit I was scared of most movie monsters, to the point that just the trailer for an Alien movie would make me nervous. Then I saw Cameron’s film and went to the dark side of the moon.
Here’s the setting: it’s 2002 and my parents and I are living in Santiago, Chile. By then I haven’t seen any of the Alien films from beginning to end, but I have a general idea of what they do and how they tend to pop out of people’s chests. One evening I see that Aliens is about to start playing on a movie channel and I decide to take a chanc…