the conformist (bernardo bertolucci, 1970)
music friday: 1996

mona lisa (neil jordan, 1986)

I'm tempted to say there is nothing special about Mona Lisa, but that sells it short. It's true that the movie is reminiscent of other films, that it doesn't break new ground. But it is so good at what it does, it hardly matters you've seen it before.

Mona Lisa features Bob Hoskins in his only Oscar-nominated role. He is a firecracker who gradually shows inner depth, and again, there is something almost inevitable about this, but the way Hoskins plays it, you believe. In a similar manner, Cathy Tyson has a stereotypical role (high-class call girl), but she makes it her own in what amazingly was her film debut. The supporting cast is solid, with people who are either perfectly cast, good at their job, or both (Michael Caine, Robbie Coltrane, Clarke Peters). Meanwhile, writer/director Neil Jordan, along with co-writer David Leland and cinematographer Roger Pratt, create an atmosphere that invites us into its world.

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