Sunday!

A million years ago, Luc Besson made a big splash in the US market with a little hit called “La Femme Nikita“*.

It was a phrenetic movie (meaning that there was a lot of reliance on shaky cam) but there were some really, really awesome scenes in the film, one of which revolved around the character played by Jean Reno: A master assassin who gets called in to help clean up when the journeyman assassins screw up. Jean Reno’s character was so awesome that Luc Besson next feature film was “The Professional“.

Now, Jean Reno’s character in The Professional wasn’t the same guy as in La Femme Nikita. Besson himself said “Now maybe Jean is playing the American cousin of Victor. This time he’s more human.” So Leon was not the guy in La Femme Nikita, but was totally inspired by the guy in La Femme Nikita.

Well, in The Professional, a young Natalie Portman played Mathilda (a young girl who discovers her parents’ murders and then goes on to learn the assassin trade). She was only about 12 when the movie was made and, dang, she was awesome in it. So awesome that she got other roles in other movies and enough of them that she became this HUGE star who had a fairly well-booked calendar.

So, when Luc Besson said something to the effect of “Now I’m ready to make a movie using the grown-up character of Mathilda”, he found that Natalie Portman was booked.

That was a bit of a bump in the road but no biggie, Luc Besson figured that he could put the bare bones of the Mathilda story into a 20 minute opening scene of a movie and then jump right into the story he wanted to tell anyway.

Which brings us to Colombiana.

Colombiana is the story of a young girl who witnesses her parents’ murders who then goes on to learn the assassin trade. This one begins by being set in the drug lord corner of Colombia (they got letters about that) and then goes to all sorts of beautiful set pieces (there’s scene involving a shark tank at one point that is absolutely beautifully shot before it gets all creepily shot).

Zoe Saldana plays the protagonist. If you’ve been wishing that you could see a movie of hers where she not only features prominently, but where she wasn’t wearing 12 pounds of prosthetics, 20 pounds of CGI, or forced to carry a leaden JJ Abrams script, then you totally should watch this one. BUT you should be warned, there are several points in the movie where you will say “holy cow! She’s wearing really tight clothing there!” So maybe keep the younger ones out of the room. It’s a PG-13 but, seriously, I would have guessed that it would have been an R.

As a spiritual spin-off of a spiritual spin-off goes, it’s the best I’ve ever seen. If you like action movies and can stomach shaky cam, you should check it out as part of a shaky cam movie night starting with La Femme Nikita, going through The Professional, and ending with Colombiana.

So… what are you watching?

*(La Femme Nikita did well enough that it made it all the way through the process to getting an English version greenlit called “Point of No Return“.)

(Featured Image is “Edison’s Telephonoscope” by George du Maurier from Punch Almanack for 1879)


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Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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15 thoughts on “Sunday!

  1. I showed my girlfriend a little of Airplane last night before jetlag took her out. Airplane did not make itself to Singapore.

    The next movie I want to watch is Our Little Sister by Kore-eda Hirokazu. Which is a mainly female cast art house movie.

    I will probably see Ghostbusters and Star Trek at some point.

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  2. Colombiana is the story of a young girl who witnesses her parents’ murders who then goes on to learn the assassin trade

    Does she meet Bryce Wayne at a support group while being pursued by Batman? Because that would be awesome.

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  3. I’m currently halfway through the Martian. It’s not terrible so far. I liked Interstellar more at the halfway point, but I imagine I’ll like the Martian more at the end, no matter how it ends, since I thought the end of Interstellar basically ruined the entire movie. No spoilers.

    I’d like to watch Spectre next, if only to ogle at the suits.

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  4. As I mentioned last week, the wife is out of town, so I gave myself permission to spend most of yesterday in front of the TV. I watched the entire 3rd season of Black Sails. It’s come a long way in 3 seasons and clearly it now has the budget to support an epic story.

    The first novel I ever remember reading was Treasure Island and since Black Sails blends historical fact with Stevenson’s fictional characters, it has always had the potential to rock my world. Still, in the last 5 minutes of the finale, when they finally name Long John Silver it gave me goosebumps.

    The seasons are only 10 episodes. If you have Amazon Prime you can get Starz for a month relatively cheap. 30 episodes can easily be digested…and if you have extra time, check out Outlander.

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  5. I binge-watched all of Netflix’s new series, Stranger Things, yesterday and I loved it.

    I also finished reading an illustrated but unabridged version of Bulfinch’s Legends of Charlemagne, which took a while, but was more than worth the effort.

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  6. (La Femme Nikita did well enough that it made it all the way through the process to getting an English version greenlit called “Point of No Return“.)

    It also spawned two television shows, the Canadian series La Femme Nikita which ran for five seasons, and the American series Nikita, which ran for four.

    Although Nikita is not so much a remake of the ‘criminal saved from death row and working for a secret group of government assassins’ concept, like the movies and La Femme Nikita…it’s more about what happens after she *leaves* that secret group of government assassins (Which happens at the very end of the movies) and then tries to take them down. (And the repercussions of doing so and how that would actually work, politically.)

    Don’t know why you’d mention the movie and the remake, but not mention the grand total of nine seasons of television produced from the same concept.

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      • *gasp*

        I actually haven’t seen the TV series La Femme Nikita either, but Nikita was my favorite ‘criticize the security state operating without any oversight’ TV show before Person of Interest. Although it was a good deal less imaginative about it than PoI is.

        The only ‘imaginative’ thing about it was the fact that the organization in charge of the secret, off-the-books missions had cleverly recorded those missions *before* branching out into, essentially, a private mercenary operation (While still doing stuff for the US government.), and thus if the government ever came after the person running the thing, he would release all those records of illegal stuff the government had asked him to do. (He actually had it on a literal dead-man’s switch.)

        Which is less ‘imaginative’ and more ‘really obvious’….but it’s amazing how many things in the ‘the government is secretly running illegal black ops’ genre totally ignore blackmail capabilities and the fact that, with such blackmail, people can quickly just ignore any oversight.

        And even after *that* problem was fixed, the show then had so much work trying to shut the place down. It wasn’t ‘Nikita manages to tell honest people in the government, gets the place shut down, credits roll as all the bad people are lead away in handcuffs and the good people are set free’.

        Nikita literally ended up in charge of it and was ordered to shut it down in a responsible manner, and slowly untangle the messes that the places had created, hopefully *without* taking the US government down with scandal by revealing it had secretly been operating assassins. This took, I believe, an entire frickin season, and she was constantly under the threat of, if she screwed up, the US military would basically just come in and level the place and *at best* arrest everyone and put them back in prison for their original crimes. (And at worst, just kill them all…they were all legally dead already anyway.)

        Also, the CIA was *extremely* unhappy to learn that someone had created, essentially, a rival to it, except with more assassination powers, and set that organization free to operate *within the US*.

        Basically, the show took the premise of the movies, that the US government created a secret group to take convicted criminals, fake their deaths, train, drug, and brainwash them as assassins, and it tried to actually *deal* with that premise and how it might play out and the actual repercussions of it.

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  7. OITNB. To anyone watching season 4, Lolly’s backstory was filmed in my neighborhood… Yonkers posing as Seattle. You can actually see my building in the background of one scene. I believe this means I’m up for an Emmy? My friend says it doesn’t work that way. Time will tell…

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