Monday, December 6, 2010

Reel Insight Episode 25 - Natalie Portman

My biggest girl-crush must be Natalie Portman, so it was easy to find a lot of her performances I enjoyed, even if I don't like all the movies she's in.  We also discuss some TV pet peeves, some good movies I saw, and a bad one Rachel saw through.

New Movies I saw with Natalie this week:

Heat - Overall, this movie was much more boring than I expected.  However, I will give that a huge caveat, I really dislike Al Pacino in everything that isn't The Godfathers or Scent of a Woman.  I find him extremely distracting from the main storyline. Also, Val Kilmer, while probably still popular when this was made, is also distractingly bad.  However, the story is particularly awesome, so watching it a few more times would probably help me get over those facts.  DeNiro seemed great, and the overall story was intriguing.  2 of 5 lambs

My Blueberry Nights - This has been in my queue forever, so I was super excited when I found out Natalie was in it because it jumped to the top.  Made by Wong Kar-Wai it fits his style really well I think (I've only seen one other of his films) but its stars are totally outside of his wheelhouse.  Norah Jones stars as an observant woman who moves around a lot.  She befriends bar tender Jude Law, but then moves on with her life, meeting David Straithern and Rachel Weisz, and moves on again and meets Portman, ending up back with Law.  It's very much a character study of the random people who make up our lives and recur in it if you're actually paying attention.  Jones isn't a terrific actress, but she doesn't a good job keeping up with the terrific acting around her.  4 of 5 lambs

Leon: The Professional - Many people have told me how great this movie is, and now I'm one of them.  This was terrific.  Jean Reno plays a "cleaner" (aka hit man) who lives next door to a drug dealer's family.  Natalie Portman is the daughter of the drug dealer and is out getting groceries when her entire family is gunned down by Gary Oldman's cop henchmen.  When she returns home, Reno basically saves her, and eventually agrees to train her to be a cleaner too.  Their relationship is really innocent, but Mathilde (Portman) is not, or likes to pretend she's not, which makes for laughs.  It's got a great action sequence at the end, and Portman is amazing carrying the film from the point of view of a 12-year-old. 

Goya's Ghosts - TERRIBLE movie.  The story wasn't bad, and Javier Bardem is pretty good.  Portman's acting isn't terrible, but her costumes, sets, and the direction is dreadful.  Portman ends up over the top playing a young woman locked up by the Inquisition who gets knocked up by a visiting monk (Bardem) and then plays her daughter 17 years later who has become a prostitute.  The only thing they bother to do to make it clear this is her daughter is to give her different teeth.  But Portman as the mom is so heinous looking that you don't need to be reminded one's the daughter and the other is the mom.  Stupid.


Sebastian Gutierrez said...

I have no interest in Blueberry Nights or Goya Ghosts, but I love Heat. I don't know. I thought it was perfect example of how to do a modern day, urban, crime epic. Still haven't seen The Professional. Gotta get on that.

BTW, Jess, I'm starting my own sort of comment contest thing at FFTSBH tomorrow (Tuesday). People come up with a witty phrase to go with a screen grab from a random movie. Head on over and take part. Thanks.

Jess said...

Yeah, I'm thinking I missed something with Heat, since so many people enjoy it. Definitely check out The Professional - so good.

I'll be sure to check out the game. Any idea of a time? Gotta get there first!

Nick said...

I haven't listened to the episode yet, but PLEASE tell me you saw the "Leon" version, not "The Professional" version. The Professional cuts out about 30 minutes of essential footage that completely changes the film (for the better).

Nick said...

Let me rephrase that... it cuts out essential footage that would OTHERWISE make the film better. Cutting out that footage makes the film worse.

Jess said...

How would I know which version it was? I saw this one:

I didn't know there were two versions. Is Natalie Portman in both?

Nick said...

Yeah, Portman is in both. And yes, that's the right version.

"The Professional" cuts out all the scenes where they go around shooting people together (the "practice" scenes, as it were). It also cuts out anything remotely hinting at pedophilia, like them laying down in bed together or her flirting with him at dinner. And it also cuts out the "Russian Roulette" scene.