The Fifth Element (1997)
Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Milla Jovovich, Ian Holm, Chris Tucker, Luke Perry.
Written by Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen.
Directed by Luc Besson.
Korben Dallas, a jaded NYC cab driver (Willis) in the distant future, unwillingly becomes the guardian of a strange young woman who just may hold the key to the fate of mankind. Aided by two bumbling monks and pursued by the alien henchmen of the ruthless Zorg (a crazed Oldman), Dallas must retrieve four ancient stones (representing the four elements) before an evil planet collides with Earth. This cartoon-ish film is one big barrel of fun, sporting a set of colourfully unique visuals (along with some amazing costumes designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier), and a cast privy to the films’ adolescent nature. And it is this ‘element’ that provides the joy of this sci-fi comedy, for it never takes itself seriously and never meanders. Even Jovovich (one of the worst actresses in the biz) seems totally in her ‘element’ here (can I use the word ‘element’ again in this review?!), primarily because she has little dialogue and the dialogue she does have is mostly alien gibberish. Apparently conceived by writer/director Besson when he was a teen, this infectious film may drag on a little too long but is still one of the most entertaining and best-loved films of the 1990s.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin, Alan Arkin, Jonathan Pryce and Kevin Spacey.
Written by David Mamet.
Directed by James Foley.
You need brass balls to sell real estate, an uptown motivator tells the disparate bunch of loser salesmen at the beginning of Glengarry Glen Ross, initiating a night of desperation in an attempt to keep themselves employed. Mamet’s adaptation of his own play is a brilliant examination of desperate men and con artists, and the actions wrought by a need for survival and the pursuits of greed. Profane and incisive, Glengarry Glen Ross is the kind of drama that actors salivate for. The cast is simply superb – from Spacey’s ice-cold office manager to Pacino’s slick and smarmy hotshot – but ultimately, this is Lemmon’s film and he lends one of the best performances of his legendary career as the veteran salesman Shelley “Machine” Levene. The film uses rainfall as an aesthetic the way David Fincher’s Se7en did a few years later, and even though many critics have voiced the opinion that this film is nothing more than a photographed play, the material is too strong for that to really be a consideration.
In The Name Of The Father (1993)
Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite, Emma Thompson, John Lynch & Corin Redgrave.
Written by Jim Sheridan & Terry George.
Directed by Jim Sheridan.
Powerful film based on the true story of Gerry Conlon who, along with friends and family, was falsely accused of the Guildford Pub bombing in London and sentenced to life in prison. Forced to share a cell with his father, the pair must examine their own relationship. When the identities of the real perpetrators of the bombing are revealed to police, the information is withheld and it’s then up to a feisty young female barrister to help clear their names. In The Name Of The Father is one of those rare films that truly stir the raw human emotions of its’ audience, persuading anger, sadness, compassion and victorious joy in equal amounts. Postlethwaite and Day-Lewis are incredible in difficult roles as father and son, and Emma Thompson is tremendous, especially during the final reel in the powerhouse courtroom scenes. Co-writer/Director Sheridan (My Left Foot) delivers a perfect example of how to tell a great story on film, avoiding the clichés that are all too obvious in the majority of films based on true events. One of the best of the decade.
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