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.