Tag Archives: Luc Besson

Angel-A (2005, Luc Besson)

I can’t believe I’m about make this statement… Angel-A would be better if it were American. Besson could still direct, still write the base story (someone else would have to come in and add… you know… subplots), still have his lead Rie Rasmussen (who’s Danish, not French, as IMDb informs… which makes sense–I’ve never seen a six-foot blond Frenchwoman), but his music composer and soundtrack producer would have to go… and so would his other lead, Jamel Debbouze. Angel-A has a really interesting problem–besides the utter lack of subplots (an Our Gang film has more)–for the first half, Debbouze is good and Rasmussen is bad. For the second half, Rasmussen is good and Debbouze is bad. The problem is a combination of script and actor. Rasmussen plays bare and emotion well and in the first half she’s enigmatic and emotionless. Debbouze is an engaging moderate scumball and the second half tries to turn him into a desperately romantic leading man. He doesn’t do change and Besson seems to realize it, because in the second half, he really brings up the music for effect. Sometimes the music works… most times it doesn’t (or it just goes on too long).

As a fantastic romance, Angel-A is something of a rehash of The Fifth Element, only without a story (or a real understanding of effective music–where’s Eric Serra when Besson really needs him?). I think I’d have been more irritated with its lack of momentum–the long dialogue sequences don’t work, especially since Besson assigns so much weight to them–if I hadn’t gone in knowing it was only going to be ninety minutes (something I should have told my fiancée). Besson pedals in place for the majority of the film, trashes a lot of good starts to scenes. It’s like he couldn’t fill the running time so he added minutes to conversations, never really pausing to see when the film wanted more space.

The bevy of complaints aside, the black and white photography is amazing. It looks like a cross between good French New Wave and L’Atalante. There’s an astoundingly beautiful sequence at the end–unimaginably wonderful–which makes the film worth seeing (and, possibly, even owning in some hi-def format… I’ve never seen anything like it). The black and white gives everything a surreal feel, at least the outdoor shots when people look like their filmed against the best rear-screen projection ever done, creating a striking visual style (too bad Besson loses it inside). His command of composition is better than it’s ever been, it’s just too bad he didn’t have a better script. Besson’s been writing crappy (if sometimes entertaining) action movies for seven years… and a lot of them–maybe the bad habits rubbed off. He also only had a fifteen million euro budget. And it’s a shame, because with some relatively simple tweaks, Angel-A would have been really good.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Written, produced and directed by Luc Besson; director of photography, Thierry Arbogast; edited by Frédéric Thoraval and Christine Lucas Navarro; music by Anja Garbarek; production designer, Jacques Bufnoir; released by EuropaCorp.

Starring Jamel Debbouze (André), Rie Rasmussen (Angela), Gilbert Melki (Franck), Serge Riaboukine (Pedro) and Akim Chir (le chef des malfrats).


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Transporter 2 (2005, Louis Leterrier)

This film is actually dedicated to someone’s memory. Sort of offensive, isn’t it? Dedicating a crappy movie to someone’s memory? Peter Jackson dedicated King Kong to Fay Wray’s memory and there’s certainly some evidence she wouldn’t have wanted the honor (Wray didn’t like the idea of Kong being remade and turned Jackson down during his first attempt, in 1997 or whatever). It’s something to think about, I suppose.

There isn’t anything to think about in Transporter 2. I watched the first one, which I think is probably better–if only because François Berléand’s detective has more to do–and didn’t even bother writing it up. For some reason, the second one offends me. The first one wasn’t any good, but it didn’t offend. This one is somehow offensively worse. Maybe because all the acting so bad. Besides Jason Statham and Berléand, the best performance is from former supermodel Amber Valletta (who looks the right age to play Matthew Modine’s wife in the film, even if he’s fifteen years older than her). She’s not good, either. She’s just surprisingly not awful. The supermodel in the film–Kate Nauta–is possibly the worst actress I have ever seen… she’s actually that bad.

She’s so bad I used ‘that’ like I just did.

Maybe I was in a more giving mood last time, but Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen are awful writers. Besson’s written some crap, but not of this magnitude before–instead of directing films, he just writes them now and I’ve seen a couple others and they aren’t this bad. I can just blame in all on Kamen, who is–historically–unbearably bad. Just awful.

Statham’s still appealing and I’m perplexed he can’t catch on. Maybe he’s just been in so many bad movies he can’t get a real job. More likely he makes enough money from these turds he doesn’t want to get a real job. It’s too bad, because I don’t think I can sit through another one of these….

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Louis Leterrier; written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen; director of photography, Mitchell Amundsen; edited by Christine Lucas-Navarro and Vincent Tabaillon; music by Alexandre Azaria; production designer, John Mark Harrington; produced by Besson and Steven Chasman; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Jason Statham (Frank Martin), Alessandro Gassman (Gianni), Amber Valletta (Audrey Billings), Kate Nauta (Lola), Matthew Modine (Mr. Billings), Jason Flemyng (Dimitri), François Berléand (Tarconi), Keith David (Stappleton), Hunter Clary (Jack Billings) and Shannon Briggs (Max).


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