Wednesday, March 31, 2004

besson: the french tarantino, the french RGV

Wasabi is the most entertaining crisp post-modern piece of filmmaking I have seen in a long long time. Jean Reno is perfect as Hubert, the crack cop with his tongue firmly in cheek and a record for devastation. And Michel Muller is perfect as Maurice ('Momo') (in fact, their sparring gives the film most of its flavour). Luc Besson digs into his usual bag of tricks and farms out a script of no complexity to a subordinate (see also Kiss of the Dragon). Roger Ebert contends that the film is product, without artistic merit. I agree with the product argument. Estimation of artistic merit is and always will be subjective. Quentin Tarantino has been great at importing foreign influences into his cauldron of homage cinema. Besson does the same, except his import is the Hollywood assembly-line action flick. And in this regard, he succeeds admirably. Aranyak noted that Reno's character seemed like it could have been played by Bruce Willis (arguably taking away what Reno had to offer, and replacing it with Willis's iconographic additions). Given that Besson employed Willis to interesting effect in The Fifth Element, the remark strengthens my take on Besson's angle. RGV has been doing something similar back home: promoting his subordinates at The Factory into different roles (usually directorial) with screened scripts. RGV makes product too, but there's enough art and style there to make his contribution to Hindi (even Indian) cinema invaluable. As far as I am concerned, Besson, Tarantino and RGV seem to work like avataars of a little filmmaking devil getting back at convention. Meanwhile, I'd recommend The Japanese Dip That Kicks Like a Mule.

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