Isaacs Picture Conclusions

THE IPC DOUBLE TAKE ~ FEATURING MARKED MOVIES: LEON / THE PROFESSIONAL (1994)

I’m going to start off this thing with this: this is my favorite movie, period. Not only is it one of the best movies I have ever seen, it’s also deeply personal to me so I have a feeling this write up won’t be one of my attempts at humor, such as they are – since – frankly – I have been intimidated to even try and talk about this considering how high of a shelf I put this on. But – BUT!! After Mark and I got together and wrote about ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK – we talked about a follow up and we made a short list and he convinced me that it was meant to be that we do this so here I go…

I was an only child for most of my life so I spent most of my time alone and lonely, watching TV and reading books. When I was a kid my dad had some money and sent me to a rich, private school and then my parents got divorced and there was no money (I stayed there on scholarship because of my brains and good looks) and I didn’t have any friends because I wasn’t rich. I’m no psychologist but I think that’s why it’s very easy for me to get depressed and, believe it or not, I’m actually a shy fucker when it comes to strangers and my wife is super proud of me for doing this out here and making friends – because that’s really unlike me. I’ve never really had anyone to talk to (until 12 years ago), so I solved my own problems and learned on my own and kept to myself and I always try not to bother anyone.

Anyway, in 1994 I was living by myself in a little one room apartment, spending my days in college and my nights at work in that goddamned restaurant and languishing in a lonely melancholy most of the time.  Then that summer this movie came out – called THE PROFESSIONAL here in the states (now it seems to be titled LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL everywhere, or just LEON) and my friend and I went to see it and I immediately bonded with Jean Reno’s Leon as, probably, my favorite character in anything I had ever seen. He’s sad and lonely and lives in solitude and doesn’t bother anyone or want to be bothered and his only friend is a plant and…. he’s a fucking BAD ASS HIT MAN who gets the job done. His only principle: “No women, no kids.”

Preferring to be left alone, he is eventually befriended by a young Natalie Portman’s “Matilda” and, despite his reservations, he slowly lets her in to his life. One day, while she is off buying Leon some milk, her family is brutally murdered by Gary Oldman’s INSANE drug riddled bad cop “Stansfield” and, in one of my Most Moving Moments in Movie History, Leon opens the door and lets her into his apartment as Oldman’s lackeys are in the hallway doing damage control. If you ever want to get me teary eyed, there’s that and the end of ROCKY, that swimming pool scene towards the end of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN or any time “So Far Away” by Staind comes on the radio.

Naturally, Matilda wants revenge (mostly for her slain little brother) but Leon’s not in that business so she, using her womanly charm, convinces him to train her to be a “cleaner” and she’ll go take care of those bastards herself. That’s all in the first act and the second gets a little slow while she’s doing her learning but that’s OK by me and the third act kicks off when Leon comes home from “work” and finds a note that she’s gone off to wreak justice on Stansfield and his men. The rest of this movie is action packed WONDERFUL and I try to watch this as often as I have the chance – and – by god – if for some reason you haven’t seen this, read what Mark wrote below and then RUN to whatever computer terminal or video store is near you and put this one on.

On a side note, earlier this year I thought it would be fun to make my own movie posters because some of the ones I found looked really shitty on my page. We shopped around and found something fairly inexpensive (Pixlemator) and we sat down to try and do some graphic design with absolutely no training or any idea what the fuck we were doing. The wife kind of got the hang of it but I realized I don’t have one lick of patience for the damned thing but I did succeed in making exactly one that I really like:

~ NOW ~

After some successful and highly creative films in his native France, director Luc Besson turned his hand to American cinema in 1994 with Leon. He had already covered the story of a lethal assassin in his 1990 film “La Femme Nikita”, which also featured Jean Reno in a small role as a “cleaner”. This time he focuses more on Reno and gives him the lead as a similar hitman for hire. It may be set in New York – with English speakers – but this is still very much an artistic French film.

As Eric has kindly gave the plot summary, I’ll avoid that and get down to my thoughts…
From the off-set, Besson’s visual style is clearly apparent and he makes wonderful use of New York locations with regular cinematographer Thierry Arbogast. He also allows the characters to blossom and creates and endearing friendship that serves as the heart of the film. Both Reno and especially a young Portman (in her film debut) are marvellous as the unlikely pairing but while they share some genuinely heartfelt moments, the boundaries are blurred with an uncomfortable, sexual subtext between them. Granted, this is formed through the romanticised eyes of a 12 year old and Leon is entirely innocent but it adds a different edge to their sentimental relationship. On the periphery, is the inclusion of a scenery-chewing Gary Oldman that adds a real sense of danger to the proceedings. His performance has been criticised for being hammy or over-the-top but, personally, I thought he was superb and it’s ranks as one of my favourites and most intense from him.
 What’s most impressive about the film is Besson’s assured hand and his ability in framing a scene; seemingly insignificant details play a massive part in the sheer beauty of this film while the dynamic music score by Eric Serra is a perfect accompaniment for Besson’s sumptuous attention to detail and deliberate approach. Action movies rarely have such style but this is one that starts and ends with a bang and delivers a warm and affecting emotional core in-between.
A stylish, captivating and emotionally complex film that could comfortably be described as an art-house thriller. Films of this type are very rare and should be seen at all costs.
Mark Walker

88 comments

  1. Excellent stuff here bro. Glad you finally bit the bullet (so to speak) and tackled this. It’s a marvellous film and great working with you again. I’ll do the same as last time. I’ll post it in review form and add a link back here. Cheers man!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…I have been intimidated to even try and talk about this considering how high of a shelf I put this on.” That happens to me. You won’t see many of my all-time favorites actually featured on my blog, because I always feel there’s nothing else to say. But I like how you included the way you related to the movie when you first saw it. I watched it once, when it came out on video, and I know I thought it was great, but I should see it again having read this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theipc

      Thank you WC! I don’t think that’s it’s a thing where I don’t think I can add anything that’s been said before to me – it’s more like “I don’t want to be the asshole who does a bad job and says something stupid about something great”. Know what I mean? I don’t want to defile something special….

      Like

  3. Pingback: Leon: The Professional * * * * 1/2 « MARKED MOVIES

  4. ray brayne

    So, it was either start a movie blog or train to be a sniper? Good choice Eric! LOL. Don’t be afraid of saying something stupid about something great. Just look at Mark and Fogs. They’re not afraid, they do it all the time! LOL
    I kid of course. Nice doubleplay here you guys. I do love Luc Besson. He’s got a TV series coming, “The Transporter”, could be interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate to say this … but it sounds like the profile of a writer to me. You show me someone who had a sunny perfect childhood, an bright, outgoing personality, popular in high school, always fit in with The Crowd and I’ll show you an accountant. Most of us have some dark crap in our histories that we may or may talk about (some people can’t shut up about it … others, only a death threat might elicit information) and all of us are more than a little nuts. Warped. In a good way. Or, at least a creative way. Even MORE interesting is how many of us have these split personalities, where when we write, we are open and funny, and personally … well let me speak for myself when I say that my charm tends to play better in print than in person. Blogging has really helped me feel like I’m part of the world again. I love communicating with other writers and weirdos round the world. Thee are my people, but they don’t live in this rural town in south central Massachusetts. In my physical world, by husband are (depending on how you want to describe it) “Unique” or “Misfits.” Perhaps both and maybe the second as a result of the first. Not a town where “unique” plays well. Very much enjoy your writing. Stay twisted and quirky!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theipc

      Why – THANK YOU!! THANK YOU very much!! That means a lot to me : ) I feel the same way – I am actually a shy and hesitant dude when it comes to stranger danger. I love the community we have all built up out here with like minded interests and – well – we’re all “odd” : )

      THANKS again! The wife and I are off to find some lunch. And I need a haircut because I am starting to look like a hobo : ) And we need some dog food. And some T P. HA!

      THANKS AGAIN!! Nice meeting you : )

      Like

  6. I watched this film reluctantly. I did really, really enjoy it but I hate being badgered into things. My man was so insistent… lol. This is a great write up and I can relate to a lot of what you’re saying. Luc Besson has done some great stuff, as has Jean Reno (I’m a big fan of French film! (Taxi, hee hee hee. 🙂 Have you seen ‘Les Visiteurs’? Very odd and amusing!). Gary Oldman is super scary in this film. What can I say, like in ‘True Romance’ he plays bad, sick as fuck guys (sorry for swearing!) really well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • theipc

      Thanks for commenting and you can swear here any time you like. This movie is excellent and your points are all great and I have seen Les Visiteurs and I LOVED it.

      The American remake they put out over here was T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E. Never bother!!

      Like

      • Thanks for the tip, I shall certainly follow your advice! My man was telling me that the US remake of ‘Le Diner de Cons’ (have you seen it, dinner for idiots – I don’t think that’s the name of it…) is much the same. People: if it ain’t broke…!

        Liked by 1 person

      • theipc

        It’s called “Dinner for Schmucks” over here and it actually wasn’t THAT bad considering the cast of people that I don’t care for. I certainly wouldn’t advise spending any money on it but it’s not terrible… : )

        Like

  7. This is one of my favorite movies. I wanted to make babies with Jean Reno. Well, no, actually I only wanted to practise making babies. 🙂
    That was very touching, your intro, Eric.
    Blogging has helped me along a lot too.
    When I started I was isolating way too much. Blogging was a safe (and fun) way to start talking again and my photos are such a good outlet for my creativity.
    I too am very introverted, prone to depression and anxiety. Recently diagnosed with bipolar type II.
    I’m really enjoying our contact and your blog. You make me laugh so much a – that’s a fine, fine thing. Thank you 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. theipc

    Reblogged this on Isaacs Picture Conclusions and commented:

    I am sitting here with everything frozen all around the place so I thought I’d reblog one of my favorite posts I’ve ever put out here – one of my favorite – if not my favorite movie – Leon / The Professional as covered by myself and our man Mark Walker of Marked Movies infamy! I hope you like ~

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great reviews. 🙂 Okay okay – I’ll watch it again someday! Hubby just loves this movie. Most guys do. Wonder why that is – you don’t hear women go on about it much. And, once again, us only children are awesome (and maybe sometimes slightly fucked up in the head… I’m talking about me. Well, maybe you too. Lol!) 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Excellent review. I absolutely adore this film. It isn’t quite my ALL TIME favourite but it is high in my all time top 10 films. It’s beautifully shot with wonderful performances, there’s an original and intriguing story, it has characters you can root for and an explosive finale. Every detail, right down to the score, is pitch perfect. Love!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the write up guys! Eric, I think you did it justice, and you just super sold it to me. I keep threatening to watch it, I have had it here at home with me for MONTHS, and every time I think to watch it I am like erm… wait. But your favourite movie? I must rectify this!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Haha! #Scotsman?? What are you trying to say?…

    Can’t argue though, I’ve been a terrible sinner in my time. I even became a Buddhist in order to ground and calm myself down. 😉

    Like

  13. I like. And I certainly can relate. I’m shy as fuck too, tho I haven’t lucky enough to meet that special someone. I’ve also enjoyed meeting all these cool people online cos I don’t have a ton of friends IRL either.

    Great post mate.

    Like

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