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post #231
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Luc Besson in the Dark

Last week, I went to a screening of Luc Besson's new film, Angel-A. Luc Besson was there for a Q&A afterwards.

I first saw a Luc Besson film in college when I saw La Femme Nikita at the Angelika. I liked it. It was crazy, but it had a lot of heart to it. It had a kick ass female heroine who got fashion tips from Jeanne Moreau. Later, when I was a video store clerk, I was a big fan of The Professional (aka Leon) and thought Jean Reno was one of the coolest actors on the planet (along with Chow Yun Fat, Tim Roth, and Gary Oldman). I saw The Fifth Element with some of my fan boy buddies. It didn't rock my world although there was some nice stuff in it.

Besson didn't direct film for awhile, but he wrote and produced a lot of stuff including The Transporter which is one of my guilty pleasures. For more information, here is his imdb entry. Scroll away.

His latest film, Angel-A, stars Jamel Debbouze as an American (very funny embassy scene by the way) schemer who owes every crook in Paris and must pay up by midnight. He tries to come with a solution and even tries to get himself arrested, but he knows he's a goner. In a fit of despair, he decides to throw himself off a bridge. However, right as he is about to jump, a leggy blonde jumps, and he has to rescue her. It turns out the leggy blonde is an angel sent down to earth to help him. The film then becomes a very simple two character piece about love and redemption. The film has a sweetness and a humanity to it, and at the same time, I felt I wasn't being fed the same old romantic comedy formula. In fact, I was delighted---something I hadn't felt about a romantic comedy in a long time.

I really liked the Angel character (played with gusto by Rie Rasmussen) who stands a head taller than the hero (let's hear it for the tall girls, woohoo!), chain smokes (heaven is a non-smoking flight), and eats bread. The audience gasped when she ate the bread.

After the movie ended, there was a question and answer session with Luc Besson. I was expecting someone dark and macho. Instead, in front of me was someone who looks like he enjoys life. He smiled a lot and told jokes.

The moderator was most definitely a fan boy. What is a fan boy? A fan boy can range in age from his late twenties to his fifties. He usually has longish hair, a black scifi t-shirt, and a very large DVD collection. Luc Besson has a lot of fan boys. I thought I liked his films, but there are guys out there who worship Besson, who want to be Besson.

Now don't get me wrong, there are also fan girls. I consider myself an original Star Wars trilogy fan girl. However, I never realized that Besson had so many fan boys. Maybe it's the babe-a-saurus factor in his films.

The moderator went through Besson's career film by film. You could tell the moderator was in fan boy heaven. Besson answered his questions and told stories. It was as if we were all sitting at a large table, drinking wine, and eating good food.

Just after Rie Rasmussen was invited up on stage and the collective fan boy panting got heavier, the lights went out in the theatre. Apparently, there was a problem with the Beverly Hills grid, and the lights were out on the whole block. However, Besson and the moderator kept talking in the dark silent theatre. Besson shined his cell phone onto his face, so you could see him in a faint blue glow.

I found the darkness around me reassuring like a blanket. I didn't have to look at anyone, and no one could look at me. The only proof of my existence in the room was my own cell phone light. In a town so much about appearance, the absence of appearance is a rare but valuable thing.

When the emergency generator came on and the theatre lights came up, my eyes registered the starkness of everything. The lights were too harsh. Besson had to go, and I walked out as he got stopped by fan boys wanting things signed.

Out on the street, I noticed some of the street lights on and some of them off. A big white truck was parked on a corner and some guys had gone down a hole in the street. As I walked past an all night tanning salon, a fan boy stumbled past me with a signed book. He move awkwardly without a graceful stride, but he was happy as if he had found his own angel.

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