Leeloo Dallas. Multipass.
March 9, 2017 2:09 PM   Subscribe

Michael Moreci looks back at The Fifth Element on Tor.com as it approaches its 20th anniversary. "The more I think about The Fifth Element, the more I realize it’s a movie that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does."

"There’s no less than a half dozen shots in The Fifth Element that can easily be considered iconic: Leeloo’s first encounter with the dizzying New York landscape, Korben surrounded at gunpoint by the Mangalores, and so on."

Yes, you read that right. The Fifth Element is almost 20 years old. You green?
posted by zooropa (266 comments total) 92 users marked this as a favorite
 
SHE KNOWS IT'S A MULTIPASS
posted by poffin boffin at 2:09 PM on March 9 [84 favorites]


anyway we're in love
posted by poffin boffin at 2:09 PM on March 9 [65 favorites]


I love The Fifth Element and it's easily one of my all-time favorite sci-fi movies. I've never seen anything with quite the same mood as it.
posted by flatluigi at 2:11 PM on March 9 [35 favorites]


/dies of age.

Ha ha, not really, I actually died of age last night when i figured out Chasing Amy was 20 years old. Boy, that one seems a lot less clever and fresh now.

(The Fifth Element, of course, remains a delight and thing I wish there were more of)
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on March 9 [14 favorites]


I've never seen anything with quite the same mood as it.

Hold on to your butts!
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on March 9 [35 favorites]


I saw it in a theater on a school field trip while I was studying abroad in France, and that must have been back in 1997, which makes me feel ancient. My classmates were like "I bet you didn't know this was actually a French movie, but it is!"

Just a few weeks ago I was sitting in a bar with some friends and it came on. We were about ready to leave when it started but ended up staying through the entire movie, because it's still so good.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 2:14 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


One thing I like about The Fifth Element is that I feel like it's secretly not even sci-fi so much as fantasy set in the future. What a crazy, fun movie.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:14 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]


Is there any other sci-fi movie out there where the Hero and the Bad Guy never meet face to face, or even know that the other exists?
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:20 PM on March 9 [92 favorites]


It feels enough like an Incal movie that I'll put it in the category "great films that happened because Jodorowsky did not get to do Dune".
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on March 9 [25 favorites]


( Inarticulate screams of joy and adulation for this movie )
posted by mikelieman at 2:21 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


Is there any other sci-fi movie out there where the Hero and the Bad Guy never meet face to face?

Wrath of Khan, but they have viewscreens and met before.
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]




I ADORE this movie: everything about it, everyone in it, the soundtrack for it, and all the things. Utter perfection.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:23 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


I think one thing that really sets it apart is that it feels... dunno, very european, in the sense that it looks more of a franco-belgian sci-fi comic adaptation (well, Mœbius worked on it, so there's that) than your regular Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster, and I wouldn't be surprised if this what set critics off at a time it was released.

I have this on a rewatch list. Might do it this weekend. Thanks!
posted by lmfsilva at 2:23 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


I just watched this for the first time since middle school weekend before last and I love it. Everything is just so over the top!
posted by phunniemee at 2:24 PM on March 9


The Fifth Element is a dreadful movie that I love from start to finish with every fiber of my being. The acting is all over the place, the script is... I mean, its a script. The solution to the problem? love? What the living what?

But you know, its gorgeous and its entertaining and funny and somehow this big glorious hot mess of a movie works. God bless it, it works despite everything. Maybe Love is the answer.

I don't know if this is true or not, but the story I always heard is that Luc Besson conceived of the whole thing when he was a teenager. To me, this is the key to the whole thing. Its that glorious mess of a story that you conceived of as a teenager that your adult mind told you would never work in retrospect but damn it Besson didn't listen to that voice and we're all the better for it.

And let's be honest, some of the moment are just so ludicrous that they're perfect. I mean, the whole scene with Zorg choking on a cherry while Father Vito just sort of chats at him? Korben Dallas negotiating with the Magalores and avoiding calls from his mom? That glorious crazy opera number? The athlete who tries to help Dallas with billiard balls? Ruby Rhod leaving in a huff? Multipass? Its just crazy and stupid and awful and just the best thing ever.

I can't even accurate express my love for this movie. My wife and I watch it probably ten or twenty times a year.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:26 PM on March 9 [71 favorites]


I'm disgusted that the author calls for a sequel to be made. LEAVE IT ALONE.
posted by ElKevbo at 2:26 PM on March 9 [28 favorites]


Hold on to your butts!

I am soooo hoping for this. But Besson can be so uneven.
posted by bonehead at 2:26 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


chicken good
posted by valannc at 2:27 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


Part of my love for 5th Element has to do with the French SFF comic art aesthetic, (imported via early Heavy Metal) which might get another run with Valerian this summer. My primary fix for that today is Kill 6 Billion Demons. If you're going to run a week late on a webcomic, it might as well be 2500px wide.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:27 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


It's so boron.
posted by straight at 2:30 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


"Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg" is still my favorite joke in a movie ever
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:31 PM on March 9 [16 favorites]


AZIZ! LIGHT!
posted by poffin boffin at 2:32 PM on March 9 [51 favorites]


And now we enter what must be the most beautiful concert hall of all the universe. A perfect replica of the old opera house... But who cares?
posted by nubs at 2:32 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


You green?

Supergreen!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:32 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]




i have it on my ipad so i can watch it whenever i want, wherever i go. back before the lincoln square imax had reserved seating and you'd have to get to the theatre 3h early for big film openings, we used to sit on line and have TFE viewing parties with random strangers.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:33 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


Jodor actually sued them (or maybe didn't, like all Jodor stories it is unclear) for copying The Incal.

"He further claimed that he lost the case because Moebius 'betrayed them' by working directly with Besson on the production of the film." - so there's that.

TBH I think it's a lot better than a direct Incal adaptation would be.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


It's still used by big box stores all over the place to show-off the picture on TVs.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:39 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


GIMME DA CASSSSHHH
posted by Soliloquy at 2:40 PM on March 9 [29 favorites]


Leeloo's in trouble?
When is Leeloo not in trouble?
posted by narancia at 2:41 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


AZIZ! LIGHT!

Fuck your aleza and google whatevs. Until I can scream this and the lights come on, it's all bullshit.
posted by mikelieman at 2:43 PM on March 9 [31 favorites]


I loved Nikita and Léon when they came out, and so I was very excited when I heard Besson was making a SF movie. I vividly remember my reaction while (and after) watching it: as with Nikita, the film burst to the seams with eye-popping, self-assured panache. I remember thinking about Nikita that this is what happens when a French auteur makes an American-style action film. And so this is what we get when it's an American-style, effects-laden science-fiction flic.

And, in both cases, it's absurd and glorious.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:44 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Besson perfectly captured the feel of French sf comics. Over the top is what they do best. Earnest is what we do best.

I'm really looking forward to Valerian. Christin and Mézières are still alive, so Besson better do them justice.
posted by zompist at 2:46 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Way back in the early 00s I lived in a rather raucous apartment with many competing interests for TV viewing. We finally took a vote to have only one thing on the TV ever. It was The Fifth Element.

For 2 YEARS if the TV was on ( and it was on almost continuously) The Fifth Element was on.

I can't say anyone complained.
posted by Max Power at 2:47 PM on March 9 [70 favorites]


Everybody has that one movie that makes them feel like a crazy person because they're the only person in the world who deviates from either over-the-top adulation or vehement disgust. The Fifth Element is that movie for me. I've tried to watch it about half a dozen times, and I just do. not. like. it.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:50 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I remember when it came out I'd go from working late at the wretched dot-com and then go see it every few days, following it to the dollar cinemas. I must have seen it more than ten times and loved it every time.

Aziz, LIGHT!

I wish Besson had made a sequel and called it "Mr Shadow" and it would be about a remnant of pure evil which didn't get destroyed by The Fifth Element. I just really want to wallow in this world some more.
posted by Catblack at 2:50 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


I saw The Fifth Element with my dad who now has hearing aides, but at the time did not realize that his hearing was going. About halfway through the film, he leans over to me and 'whispers', "I know what the fifth element is" excruciatingly loudly. At the time I was mortified, but now its one of my favorite memories.
posted by JennyJupiter at 2:50 PM on March 9 [45 favorites]


I'm disgusted that the author calls for a sequel to be made. LEAVE IT ALONE.

Yeah, I'm not sure how you get the same level of bizarre, absurd, weird shit that is both self-aware and self-mocking and yet still somehow a transcendent, glorious, wonderful movie. First time I watched it I remember several moments at which I thought it was going to settle into a familiar track, and then it just goes off and does something else weird and unexpected and wonderful.

It shouldn't work. But it does. Don't try to make it work again.
posted by nubs at 2:53 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


I too am in the camp where this is one of my favourite guilty pleasures of all time.

The solution to the problem? love? What the living what?

Yeah, I guess if I had one complaint it's that the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

BUT THE PARTS. THE GLORIOUS PARTS.

Dallas' ridiculous slide-away apartment. The guy wearing a photo of the hallway on his head. The opera scene. RUDY RUDY RUDY - POP IT D MAN

Seriously, it's the best.
posted by GuyZero at 2:53 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


AZIZ! LIGHT!


IIII IIII I
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:55 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


It shouldn't work. But it does. Don't try to make it work again.
Let Besson work on Lucy 2 and 3 and so on. It can't get much worse than the first.
posted by lmfsilva at 2:57 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


"A lovely ballet ensues, so full of form and color..."
posted by Catblack at 3:00 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


They initially wanted the actual Prince for Rudy. Wouldn't have been as good.
posted by Artw at 3:02 PM on March 9 [14 favorites]


I actually have a soft spot for eurotrash sci-fi ala what Heavy Metal used to print, so this movie should be right up my alley.

But I can only watch it for about ten minutes at a time, and none of those ten minutes can have Chris Tucker in them. Eeeeegh.
posted by delfin at 3:03 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


I've linked to this before here, but given that we're gushing about "Fifth Element" and all: Fhloston Paradise Recreated In LEGO
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 3:06 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]


this movie is really stupid, juvenile and the SUPREME BEING has to be some weak girly girl at the end and be saved by LUUUUUUUUUV.

that said. omg! I love this movie, have seen it dozens of times. I cannot think of a line of dialog that mr supermedusa and I do not regularly include in our day-to-day discourse. its so utterly utterly fun, bright n shiny!! its SUPERGREEN!
posted by supermedusa at 3:08 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


My favorite scene it chinese take out, right to your window.


Multipass!
posted by sammyo at 3:16 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


POP IT D MAN

It's all about this guy.
posted by JoeZydeco at 3:20 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


It was just so...pretty. American sci-fi is often gritty, dark, or big and bright and loud, or even awesome, but never pretty.

I had hopes that Jupiter Ascending would follow in this movie's footsteps of crazy plot/scene-eating villain/beautiful sets (it had that potential) but alas. Nowhere close.
posted by emjaybee at 3:21 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


This film was one of my favorite movie going experiences. A friend and I walked in just because we wanted to see a movie. Oh look, science fiction action with Bruce Willis. I like Bruce Willis. It blew our little minds. It looked great and it was so funny. It is still one of my favorite movies.
posted by zzazazz at 3:22 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


So busy now!

I saw this on the plane when I was going on my first and only trip OS. It was a suitable introduction to the surreal experience I was about to have (20 years ago! Gott help me).
posted by h00py at 3:24 PM on March 9


Ok, this is going to sound a bit weird.

In some ways The Fifth Element is one of those movies like Idiocracy or Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the sum of the parts is way better than the whole. The plot is a paper-thin skeleton on which is draped so many memorable moments and entertaining characters. Comparing the three sounds crazy, but it works in this particular way. Nobody says "Idiocracy was a great movie" but lots of people have favorite moments and quotes from it. Same with Python, ultimately you'd never defend it as more than a series of hilarious medieval-themed sketches.

I think the one thing The Fifth Element has that the other two don't is a compelling world as a backdrop, with great prop design and artistic elements that tie the scenes and characters together better than the plot itself does.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 3:27 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


@flatluigi I've never seen anything with quite the same mood as it.

Have you ever seen Jeunet's 1991 movie Delicatessen?
posted by xtian at 3:30 PM on March 9 [24 favorites]


Or Diva. That comes close too.
posted by bonehead at 3:31 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Some of you in here who have noted that the eurocomixness is a key element of the film's difference and appeal may be pleased to learn that Besson's next film is an adptation of the grandpere of eurocomic space opera, Valerian et Laureline. I believe it's set for a July opening globally.

I'll let y'all engougleur comme tu veux.
posted by mwhybark at 3:32 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I would totally buy Diva Plavalaguna's albums but none of the record stores I've checked with know how to order them.
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:35 PM on March 9 [15 favorites]


Ruby Rhod interviewed her for his podcast just a few months before Floston. Well worth tracking down.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 3:41 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


I think the one thing The Fifth Element has that the other two don't is a compelling world as a backdrop, with great prop design and artistic elements that tie the scenes and characters together better than the plot itself does.

My feeling on why it works where other bag-of-treats movies don't is because The Fifth Element proceeds like a rollercoaster that goes through a bunch of different environments. You may have a hard time afterwards putting down on paper just what held it all together, but your body knows what the common thread was. Most of those other movies don't have the affability and force of personality necessary to pull that off. It's a great strategy to make that sort of movie work, and my sense is that it's probably really difficult to do on purpose and that's you mostly get artistic advice along the lines of not including every fun little tidbit you think of in whatever you're working on.
posted by invitapriore at 3:59 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


I am curious as to what all you Fifth Element fans think of Jupiter Ascending? It's messy and stupid and somehow overlong and rushed at the same time but it's the only thing I've seen since Fifth Element that captures that space opera can be big and sprawling and colorful and fun and weird.

But it seems like many of the same kind of things that people adore in Fifth Element are the same things that get made fun of in Jupiter Ascending. It wouldn't be at all out of place for Leeloo to be acknowledged by a swarm of bees, or for Zorg to only speak in alternating whispers and screams and bath in the distilled essence of humans.
posted by thecjm at 4:00 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


tobascodagama, I'm with you. Never understood the appeal and its longevity is deeply confusing to me.
posted by Ashwagandha at 4:03 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Jupiter Ascending was OK but it took itself too seriously. I think Channing Tatum was trying way to hard. Bruce Willis has that magical balance of being dead serious and winking at the camera at the same time. It's hard to imagine the move starring anyone else.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on March 9 [27 favorites]


"Never understood the appeal and its longevity is deeply confusing to me."

Well, I think of it as a guilty pleasure. A bad movie that's good, but not in an ironic MST3K way, but in a "whoop, that was nuts and way more fun than it had a right to be. And also really stupid."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:06 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Bruce Willis has that magical balance of being dead serious and winking at the camera at the same time. It's hard to imagine the move starring anyone else.

This'll sound weird, but Statham? Hes actually very good at that same balance.

Actually any of the FF cast.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on March 9 [15 favorites]


Never understood the appeal and its longevity is deeply confusing to me.

The set pieces are a really singular sci-fantasy vision that's unlike anything out there, except for a bunch of mid-80's copies of Heavy Metal.

Similarly, as a teenager I was pretty into Heavy Metal. In retrospect it's pretty juvenile, but it had some amazing vision that got lost among all the tits.
posted by GuyZero at 4:08 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Ruby Rhod interviewed her for his podcast just a few months before Floston. Well worth tracking down.


"Rhodcast," surely.
posted by mwhybark at 4:10 PM on March 9 [32 favorites]


This'll sound weird, but Statham? Hes actually very good at that same balance.

Sure , he might work. The more I think about it, it's that Willis projects an air of being really fucking tired throught the movie, both an ironic distance as well as an actual physical exhaustion that he eventually overcomes through his affection for Leeloo. I suppose The Transporter had a similar vibe although Statham doesn't have quite the same air of needing a third cup of coffee just to get out of bed.
posted by GuyZero at 4:11 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


Bzzzzt! BZZZZT!
posted by leotrotsky at 4:14 PM on March 9 [22 favorites]


Screw it, I'm posting the whole thing:

Korben Dallas! Here he is, the one and only winner of the Gemini croquet contest! (GEMINI!)

This boy is fueled like fire, so start melting ladies cuz the boy is hotter than hot he's hot, hot, HOT!

The right size, right build, right hair, right on (RIGHT ON, RIGHT ON) Right on, right on!

And he's got something to say to those fifty billion pairs of ear out there.

Pop it D-man!: Umm, hi.

Unbelievable!

Quiver ladies, quiver he's gonna set the world on fire. Right here from 5 to 7 you'll learn everything there is to know about the Deeeee-man.

His dreams, his desires, his most intimate of intimates.

And from what I'm lookin' at, intimate is this stud-muffin's middle name. So tell me my man, (drums) you nervous in the service? (drums)

Mmmhmm, not really.


Freeze those knees my chickadees, cuz Ruby's in the place and he's on the case.

Yesterday's frog will be tomorrow's prince, of Fhloston Paradise!

The hotel of a thousand and one follies, lollies, and lick 'em lollies. A magic fountain flow of non stop wine, women and hotchie cootchie coo!

All night long. All night long, all night!! ...

And start licking your stamps little girls, this guy's gonna have you writing home to Momma!

Right here from 5 to 7, I'll be your voice, your tongue and I'll be hot on the tail of the sexiest man of the year... D-man... Your man... My man!

posted by leotrotsky at 4:19 PM on March 9 [49 favorites]


I had the insane luck to work on a couple really big movies the first year I was in Hollywood, and Fifth probably wins all around.

I snuck into the screening room during dailies one day, and (unknown to me) we were showing Luc the first iteration of the giant flaming skull that flies into the camera from the big ball of evil. It loops through the first time and there was the most French cackle from the front row.

It's still one of the cooler brush-with-fame moments I've had, years later.
posted by The Mysterious Mr. F at 4:20 PM on March 9 [75 favorites]


I just did not get this movie. At all. Enough in fact that when a girl who was really into me in college told me it was her favorite and wanted to make out with it on, I backed out. I just don't get this film at all. I love Gary Oldman and occasionally Bruce Willis. I like shitty sci-fi movies. Why don't I get this movie?
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:23 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I think GuyZero's got it with Jupiter Ascending. It was big and weird, but it didn't go all in the way 5th Element does. 5th Element commits an absolute 100% to this crazy, over the top, comic book world, right down to the little details, with fisheye lenses and the people whose job it is to flamethrower the vermin out of the landing gear on the spacecraft because of course there are. And Bruce Willis winks at the camera, but he still fits in, somewhat begrudgingly to this absurd world, similar to how I feel when someone makes a scene at the supermarket at someone else bringing 15 items through the 12 items or less lane. "Really? This is what's going on right now? Ok, I guess..." but instead of too many items, it's a guy rolling billiards balls to Bruce Willis in the middle of a giant firefight, because again, of course it is.

Jupiter Ascending committed less, world-built a little less, took itself a little more seriously, and threw in a helping of "Furries are fuckin' cool, right?"

Which would have been fine, if it fit into the movie more, and was less "that guy in high school who always made up a racoon-man race for D&D and insisted it be way overpowered and also he had to be allowed to play one."
posted by mrgoat at 4:25 PM on March 9 [12 favorites]


5th Element commits an absolute 100% to this crazy, over the top, comic book world, right down to the little details, with fisheye lenses and the people whose job it is to flamethrower the vermin out of the landing gear on the spacecraft because of course there are.

You mean you don't want to see another 300 movies about Captain Tsing of the Aegis?

Evil. Evil, pure and simple from the eighth dimension.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:40 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


The thing I like best about The Fifth Element is Gary Oldman's bizarre corn-pone accent...
The first time I watched it I was, like, "...WTF?" But now I think it's pure genius.
posted by ovvl at 4:42 PM on March 9 [11 favorites]


Abehammerb Lincoln: I think it's the difference between a terrible movie that's taking itself entirely seriously and a rather well made film that's given itself permission to drift into goofiness. One becomes the subject of our ridicule the other makes us cringe at its occasional absurdity.
posted by Insert Clever Name Here at 4:50 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite things about this movie, and there are several, is that the villain is an art dealer.
posted by rhizome at 4:55 PM on March 9 [26 favorites]


I love how the Fifth Element has the visual aesthetic of a Juan Gimenez epic from Heavy Metal magazine.
posted by My Dad at 4:55 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I'm really bummed out by the reminder not just that Brion James has passed on, but that we have been without him for almost eighteen years. WAKE UP...TIME TO APPRECIATE YOUR BODY OF WORK.
posted by Guy Smiley at 5:10 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Bruce Willis has that magical balance of being dead serious and winking at the camera at the same time. It's hard to imagine the move starring anyone else.

he is VISIBLY trying not to crack up during the entire multipass airport scene and it's one of the most delightful movie moments on earth for me.

as for jupiter ascending, it would've been 10,000x better if there was someone comically narrating/reacting to every stupid thing that emperor redmayne tittycape was doing, highlighting all his stupid scenery-chewing moments. as it was it just took itself so embarrassingly seriously. the intergalactic DMV bureaucracy scene? that was hands down the best part of the entire movie and if the majority of the movie had been EXACTLY LIKE THAT it would be in my top 10.

instead it was sean bean very seriously saying shit like bees can sense royalty and whatsherface being like wow i guess im a furry now, hot dogboy. but like. no one is laughing. it's serious. they're rollerblading through space! but it's not presented as utterly fucking hilarious! why! who made that terrible choice! i would like to speak with the manager!
posted by poffin boffin at 5:13 PM on March 9 [37 favorites]


The Fifth Element is a movie is should absolutely hate. But I love it. It's like the filmic equivalent of some european summertime dance track that succeeds by pushing all of its cliches past the breaking point and becoming something entirely else. It's pure trash in the best way.

Also Ruby Rhod is the character Chris Tucker was born to play he should have retired immediately afterward.
posted by murphy slaw at 5:13 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


god now im mad about space bees again ugh
posted by poffin boffin at 5:14 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]


why isn't he wearing a SHIRT it is COLD IN SPACE oh my hgod
posted by poffin boffin at 5:16 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


hey're rollerblading through space! but it's not presented as utterly fucking hilarious! why! who made that terrible choice!

science fiction and high camp seem like they should be two great tastes that go great together but camp is hard to pull off at the best of times and science fiction requires constant vigilance to keep the audience from going "this is stupid" and you put them together and it's gonna catch fire more often than not
posted by murphy slaw at 5:18 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


Was it Roger Ebert whose definition of a great movie was "five great scenes, no bad scenes"?

As far as I'm concerned, the only bad scene in Fifth Element is the shot of the back of the (awful! unbelievable!) Bruce Willis body double flying the ship near the end, when they've mostly solved things and Ruby Rhod concludes his 'cast and wearily takes off his mic. Least persuasive body double in ages.

Other than that, one of my all-time favorites. A local joint has a schtick of analog media and so generally has a tape running on the VHS player at all times, on silent so it doesn't interfere with the music. The last time we came in to find them showing Fifth Element, my spouse and I found ourselves doing the dialog through four or five scenes, until our food arrived and our mouths were full. The staff were amused enough to comp us our beers.
posted by Lexica at 5:19 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


In a way Gary Oldman's accent is perfect because the popcorn movie villains always have genteel English accents. Oldman really is British and does an absurd Southern drawl.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 5:22 PM on March 9 [41 favorites]


I think it was Howard Hawks who said "Three great scenes and no bad scenes."
posted by Death and Gravity at 5:23 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


anyway i just want to live long enough to enjoy the reign of galactic president tiny lister
posted by poffin boffin at 5:24 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


Count me as a fan of Jupiter's Ascending. I'm not sure direct comparisons with 5th Element are fair, and if folks would just forget about the Matrix and let the damned movie stand on its own, I think JAs charm can come through.

I've yet to see Speed Racer, but I hear it's in the same vein.
posted by Strange_Robinson at 5:29 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


Negative, I am a meat popsicle.
posted by Sand at 5:31 PM on March 9 [34 favorites]


Since no one has mentioned it, I'm going to have to throw out Southland Tales for another similarly weird, pieces together movie with great parts, but a ton of plot holes, and overarching awesomeness.
posted by aetg at 5:32 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


What the hell, I'm gonna watch it again right now.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:42 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


[Bruce Willis] is VISIBLY trying not to crack up during the entire multipass airport scene and it's one of the most delightful movie moments on earth for me.

He does actually lose his bearing in the "Gimme the Casshshshshshsh" scene, when the guy does his little dance after being disarmed and dismissed. A more serious movie would have had him be all gruff and grunty the whole time, but it was such a great bit of humanizing absurdity, I think it plays well.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:50 PM on March 9 [21 favorites]


I watched it maybe 4 times before I got that "Gemini Croquettes" was a pun.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:52 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


I am just so-so on the movie as a whole, but holy cow did I love the opera sequence--I would kill for an entire genre based around that music.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:53 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Why do I feel perfectly fine accepting that The Fifth Element is 20 years old, but feel like I need a rocking chair and an ear trumpet because Buffy the Vampire Slayer is 20 years old?

(If the apocalypse comes, beep me!)
posted by tzikeh at 5:55 PM on March 9 [14 favorites]


YOU. WANTSOMEMORE?
posted by belarius at 6:03 PM on March 9 [8 favorites]


Now, while we are on the subject of 80s Heavy Metalesque trashy scifi epics, I have one that I have been longing for since my teenage years...

The live-action adventures of Captain Lincoln F. Sternn.
posted by delfin at 6:04 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


As someone who learned French mostly from Metal Hurlant in the 70s, I have a deep love for this film.

The first time I saw it, I was a little irritated by Ruby Rhod, and mentioned this to the guy I was with, and he said "just think of him as Roger Rabbit", and after that there was nothing wrong with it whatsoever.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:06 PM on March 9 [14 favorites]


I watched it maybe 4 times before I got that "Gemini Croquettes" was a pun.

Pls explain.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:09 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


I have so many stories that this movie centers around. I think I'll tell this one.

My bff and I were watching it in the theater for the first time. We knew little about it. The opening credits come up and Gary Oldman's name appears.

Bff whispers: "Gary Oldman?"
I nod.
Bff again whispers: "Gary Oldman???"
Me: "...."
Silence
Silence
Bff: "Whatchu talkin' bout Willis?"

At which point I kill my self laughing, inform her of her mistake, and she kills herself laughing. There was no way we weren't going to love that movie after that. Every time Gary Oldman's character came on, we pictured Gary Coleman. It was pure joy.
posted by greermahoney at 6:15 PM on March 9 [24 favorites]


I know what I'm doing for the rest of the evening. Thanks Mefi!
posted by beandip at 6:21 PM on March 9


I too am in the camp where this is one of my favourite guilty pleasures of all time.

What's with the guilt?

Yeah, I guess if I had one complaint it's that the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

Like pretty much every popcorn movie ever made, including anything with a superhero

BUT THE PARTS. THE GLORIOUS PARTS.

Dallas' ridiculous slide-away apartment. The guy wearing a photo of the hallway on his head. The opera scene. RUDY RUDY RUDY - POP IT D MAN

Seriously, it's the best.
posted by GuyZero


It is, I agree.
posted by philip-random at 6:26 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Every time I watch this movie, I notice ten new things wrong with it, but somehow I always enjoy it just as much as I did on that magical first viewing.
posted by 256 at 6:27 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I watched it maybe 4 times before I got that "Gemini Croquettes" was a pun.

Pls explain.

Took me a little while too. It's close to Jiminy Cricket.
posted by lumensimus at 6:32 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


I notice ten new things wrong with it
Blasphemy! There is nothing wrong with it.

Actually, I just rewatching it this week and this this question to fb: "Why does the newly created perfect being who literally just grew bone and muscle and skin moments ago have a month's worth of roots?"

But other than that...
posted by greermahoney at 6:34 PM on March 9 [11 favorites]


but like. no one is laughing. it's serious. they're rollerblading through space! but it's not presented as utterly fucking hilarious! why! who made that terrible choice! i would like to speak with the manager!
posted by poffin boffin
Welcome to my exact main criticism of the movie Batman & Robin, the throwback to the deadpan absurdity of 1960s Batman that the editor apparently thought was a modern Hollywood action flick
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:35 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


One of my favorite anecdotes about this movie (please nobody tell me it's not true) is that costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier was on set for the big scenes (Phloston Paradise, the crowd in the background of the "Multipass!" scene, maybe others) and checked each and every extra's costume before filming started.

And I'm so amused that spellcheck isn't flagging "Phloston".
posted by Lexica at 6:36 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


In college a guy from down the hall was totally ripped on mushrooms so he sat on my couch and held up his student ID and said "Leeloo Dallas. Multipass." for a solid hour.

It was funny every time. I still laugh thinking about it now.
posted by peeedro at 6:53 PM on March 9 [17 favorites]


All this talk of The Fifth Element makes me want to rewatch it, but suddenly I want to watch Nikita even more. Man, I love that movie. And the Peta Wilson TV series than followed.
posted by lhauser at 6:54 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


I love the quick little reminder that the president and a bunch of important people have been listening in the whole time.

Priest: Wh-where did you learn to negotiate like that?

-cut back to earth-

President: I wonder



It's full of little moments like that.
posted by VTX at 7:02 PM on March 9 [9 favorites]


Of course Bruce Willis's best roles all centered around being a tired, barely willing hero. He's like the personification of Indy shooting the swordsman.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:08 PM on March 9 [42 favorites]


I love this movie completely unironically, and I will always have a crush on Leeloo. Delicatessen is definitely in the same category of crazy-yet-internally-consistent movies, but I am hard pressed to think of many others.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:11 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I've yet to see Speed Racer, but I hear it's in the same vein.

The brilliant thing about SR is that most live-action adaptations of cartoons make the cartoon look like real life. SR made real life look like the cartoon. It was unlike anything else I've ever seen, disturbing and awesome and brilliant.

I liked 5E and Jupiter Ascending, although not to the watch it twenty times memorize all the dialog point. They both created previously unseen narrative viewpoints and executed them well, although neither without problems. My wife by contrast, an intelligent woman who counts Philip K. Dick as her favorite author, hates all of these movies with the passion of a cluster of supernovae. I think the key is that they are all very visual experiences, and while she loved Blade Runner she didn't love it as most of us did because of the amazing visuals. She's a lyrics and ideas person, and let's face it the ideas in 5E and JA and SR are, well, wait, there are ideas there?

So different strokes etc. The movie we pretty much agree nailed it on all principles was Twelve Monkeys. It was crazy and spectacular and thoughtful and not at all stupid. The last point not being one you could really honestly make about 5E, JA, or SR.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:17 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


5E was a better evocation of the Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant aesthetic than either the Heavy Metal movie (which had its moments, but not enough to make up even a modest version of those animation shorts anthologies that they used to show at college) or Immortal (Enki Bilal's adaptation of his own comic, which ended up being this deadly dull thing).
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:24 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


When my daughter was four, she asked me what I wanted for my Birthday. I answered, "The Fifth Element on Blu-Ray!"

It was a throw-away joke. And, being a four year old, she asked why. And then I started to remember bits and pieces of the movie, I had seen so long ago at the Dollar Theater, which did second-runs and turned a tidy profit on popcorn, soft-drinks and candy.

I thought a long while, and then answered, "It's bright and colorful and big, and it's very smart while being very silly."

She brightened, and totaly got it, and as I unwrapped my mostly-clear-tape and some tissue paper and a picture of us all together smiling on printer paper wrapped gift, my wife rolled her eyes and said with a grin, "Yeah, she said we needed to get Daddy his movie which is about him being smart and silly."

I knew right away what I was getting.

We have an L-shaped couch-and-loveseat arrangement, and the entertainment center is kitty-corner so everyone on either piece of furniture can be dissatisfied. That night, I stole a dining-room chair, and after both daughter and wife were fast asleep, I planted it front-and-square in front of my high-end-for-2007 and still more than passable to this day Panasonic Plasma 50" TV at the optimal viewing distance, which conveniently also allowed me to keep the volume down low enough not to disturb those sleeping upstairs.

I had a giant oil-can of lite-beer and some microwave popcorn, and that was one of the pure and perfect moments of my life, seeing the Fifth Element, much older and more jaded, yet more involved and entranced than the first time I saw it. My daughter suggested it, my wife agreed to it, I watched it, and happiness and bliss happened on my birthday. It was literally better the second time I watched it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:26 PM on March 9 [73 favorites]


The closest album I ever found to one of the Diva was Operatica but it's out of print and hard to come by. A good mix of electronica opera.
posted by msbutah at 7:40 PM on March 9


My personal theory of why The Fifth Element works so well; Luc Besson watched a lot of Hong Kong cinema. Genre mashups? Check. Ludricrous plots overcome by sheer rapid-fire pacing and charismatic actors? Check. Beautiful cinemetography and occasional cheap sets in the same movie? Check.

A lot of filmmakers aped the wire-fu, stunt work, and bullet time sequences (and Besson wasn't immune to these influences either) but Besson also must have noted how Hong Kong filmmakers in the Eighties and early Nineties would just commit to sheer madness on the screen.
posted by Eikonaut at 7:40 PM on March 9 [13 favorites]


Mr.Encyclopedia: "I think the one thing The Fifth Element has that the other two don't is a compelling world as a backdrop, with great prop design and artistic elements that tie the scenes and characters together better than the plot itself does."

This is why it is one of the two franchises I really wish would get turned into an MMORPG. The factual details in the movie were so sparse, and the artistic style was so dominant, that you could build a million interesting stories and they'd all feel immersive.

(the other franchise is the Last Airbender/Legend of Korra universe)
posted by Riki tiki at 7:49 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


I'm going to confess something that shouldn't be confessed on Metafilter:

I've never seen this movie. Not because I didn't want to but because I kinda grew up in a cult-ish atmosphere* and seeing movies was a thing we didn't do.

Now I'm going to buy it because I'm always looking to fill in the pop cultural blanks that I have.

*I'm not truly sure if it was a cult but it certainly felt like one: we women had to be dressed a certain way (fully covered, no make-up) and my poor dad gave up his really good job and all of his savings.
posted by blessedlyndie at 7:55 PM on March 9 [18 favorites]


I'm going to confess something that shouldn't be confessed on Metafilter:

I've never seen this movie. Not because I didn't want to but because I kinda grew up in a cult-ish atmosphere and seeing movies was a thing we didn't do.


You will notice I have elided your asterisk. This is literally the best movie for you. Steal a dining-room chair, and place your screen of choice at the optimal viewing distance in front of it. Find something you like to drink, and something else you like to snack on.

Let yourself go, immerse yourself, you deserve it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:09 PM on March 9 [19 favorites]


I had the good fortune to meet Luc Besson at the Camnes Film Festival way back before he was famous. His film Le Grande Blue was screening that year. My french was horrible (still is) and I didn't even know who he was, but we briefly sort of chatted. Anyway I was thrilled when 5th Element came out and I could tell everyone I'd met tbe director of this completely awesome film.

Also I think Time Bandits falls into the same category of best films ever made that shouldn't really have worked at all.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:21 PM on March 9 [20 favorites]


So speaking of the opera, Jane Zhang took a swing at it. It's better than I'd have expected, considering I mostly know her for relatively bubblegum pop.
posted by Kyol at 8:23 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


I saw 5E a few weeks ago on the IMAX screen at the Air & Space Museum in D.C. with a full auditorium of fans (for their SciFi Sunday feature). It was glorious and laugh out loud funny, and I couldn't stop grinning for an hour afterwards.

This is my one and only "must leave it on and watch it when it comes on TV" movie, so I've seen parts of it over and over. But the whole thing on a large screen was just perfect. Not even the uber-dated cgi snippets could mar it. And yea, I'd buy the Diva's music too.
posted by gemmy at 8:24 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


That's...a very nice hat.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:26 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


What's with the guilt?

For me at least, reading about Besson's love life around the time of production induced some.

Still love the hell out of this movie.
posted by ODiV at 8:28 PM on March 9


Negative, I am a meat Popsicle

Far and away my favourite movie.
posted by Mitheral at 8:43 PM on March 9 [6 favorites]


Oh boy.

A few months back after my nth rewatch of this classic I fell into a rabbithole of tracking down every instance of concept art for its take on Future New York that I could find. I was considering turning it into a big post on the movie for its actual anniversary, but truth be told I probably would have just neglected to get around to actually writing the thing until it was too late and then just skip it. But now there's this post as a wonderful excuse to skip the window dressing and straight linkdump some of the most impressive sci-fi worldbuilding in film history!

Let's start with the scene that kickstarted my original search: the brief glimpse of Manhattan we get right after the big space plane takes off midway through the film (screenshot). Most folks remember Fifth Element's cityscape as the bottomless urban canyon filled with skycars that Leeloo dives into, which is a truly striking sight, but this is the one time we see how the logic of the place works in the real world.

At first glance, you might notice the Statue of Liberty has been raised on a towering pedestal, which is kind of odd... until you notice the urban core is around the same height. Then it clicks: Lady Liberty hasn't budged, but rather the sea level has dropped dramatically, with centuries of construction sprawling across the newly exposed land. The city's bridges still exist, suspended thousands of feet in the air, and the original street grid now cuts deeply into the bedrock of Manhattan, stretching endlessly from the smoggy depths to the airy pinnacles of the newest skyscrapers.

It's a fascinating idea, unlike any I've seen in science fiction before. But I felt a little bummed that our only full view of the situation was limited to such a grainy throwaway shot.

Then I did a Google Image search of said grainy screenshot.

And found a match on visual FX company Digital Domain's website.

A match not of a bigger screenshot, but of the original background matte...

IN GLORIOUS 4096x1707 RESOLUTION. [Imgur mirror; Archive.org mirror]

Reader, I audibly gasped. And spent the next fifteen minutes absorbed in this 4K masterpiece of futuristic imagination.

Admire the Venetian waterfront and lovely columns to the left of the Statue of Liberty's base. Note the Qantas plane perched on the leftmost airport runway. Snicker a bit at how utterly ordinary they leave New Jersey looking. Dwell on the spooky absence of the World Trade Center. Gaze into the sparkling canyons cutting into Manhattan's "shore" where each avenue used to run. Wonder over what looks like a Sydney Opera House replica just below the rickety Brooklyn Bridge, then recall that Korben's apartment window had a view of said bridge -- and congratulations, because that matte background painting also exists IN GLORIOUS 2048x854 RESOLUTION. [Imgur; Archive.org]

At this point, you may notice a pattern in the Digital Domain URLs, so let me save you the effort:

The flying NYPD blockade, in GLORIOUS 1800x750 RESOLUTION [Imgur - Archive]. So crisp you can read the background advertisements!

Leeloo walking the ledge, in GLORIOUS 1800x750 RESOLUTION [Imgur - Archive]. Note what looks like Rockefeller Center's famed Atlas sculpture on the skybridge, and how the lab is located on Madison Avenue.

(Other images: The Diva Plavalaguna and the Phloston Paradise cruise ship)

Of course, nothing can match the power of the GLORIOUS HD source material, but there's plenty of interesting concept art showing how this vision came to life: And some miscellaneous linkage: And remember, all this material, all these ideas and imagination and art that inspired so many tributes and projects years down the line, just to make background location shots in just one part of the movie. This lived-in quality, this loving, obsessive attention to detail, is why Fifth Element makes for such stiking and memorable sci-fi -- even if the plot is super corny.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:50 PM on March 9 [276 favorites]


Oh, for anyone who hasn't seen this: Diva Plavalaguna's song performed live. (My favorite part is when the judge who buzzes in after recognizing the tune on the second or third note then dances in her seat with an increasingly smug smile as the performance progresses. And then one of the other judges gives in to how good it is and starts going along as well.)
posted by Lexica at 8:57 PM on March 9 [23 favorites]


Some people mistakenly believe The Fifth Element is great bad movie--that is, a movie so bad, it becomes good. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is merely the absolute worst great film ever made.
posted by skewed at 9:06 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]


Wow, that was an effort post Rhaomi! You cut to the quick in that you realize that it is art. Art doesn't become not art if it's in a movie with Bruce Willis.
posted by Sphinx at 9:07 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


So everyone likes what they like, and that's cool, man, but

The movie we pretty much agree nailed it on all principles was Twelve Monkeys. It was crazy and spectacular and thoughtful and not at all stupid.

The parts where they strapped Bruce Willis down so they could show him tv's with eyes on them? Those parts were stupid.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:17 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


my favorite worldbuilding detail is that the cigarettes are 75% filter
posted by beerperson at 9:22 PM on March 9 [47 favorites]


Great movies create characters that become like real people to you and T5E did that, bizarreness not withstanding. That's why people remember and love it. In college this was the only VHS tape we owned in a house with about 7 people. We watched it nearly daily for two years. I can't remember a single thing about the plot, but I remember the characters and many of the scenes vividly.

Bruce Willis is the master of grounding, I really can't imagine this movie with anyone else as Korben Dallas.
posted by fshgrl at 9:28 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Super comment, Rhaomi! One thing about the "spooky absence of the World Trade Center"--I think that that may be the WTC in Lower Manhattan to the left of the vaguely Empire State Building-looking thing (which can't be the ESB because it's way too downtown); it's just been sort of overwhelmed by the other skyscrapers which overtook it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:57 PM on March 9 [1 favorite]


Bruce Willis has that magical balance of being dead serious and winking at the camera at the same time.
With his action star career sometimes it's easy to forget Bruce Willis got his big break in Moonlighting, a sitcom meta as fuck in the mid 80s. It was also experimenting on mixing genres when that was not still a thing. Willis was either born to play that role, or he rolled with it like a champ.

In the realm of 80s name dropping, I also suggest Besson's second movie, Subway. I've watched it recently and for such a bizarre concept, it does everything remarkably well.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:06 PM on March 9 [7 favorites]




ok, someone explained "Gemini Croquettes", but I still don't get "Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg" is still my favorite joke in a movie ever?
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:08 PM on March 9


The first time I saw this movie was at the campus movie theater, which had the bass turned up so much that it was actually hard to hear the dialog. I didn't think much of it at the time, but for some reason it was the first DVD I ever bought (before I even had a player). Naturally, I liked it a lot more when I could hear what they were saying.

"You must drink a lot of coffee, being a priest."
posted by dirigibleman at 10:12 PM on March 9 [4 favorites]


My personal theory of why The Fifth Element works so well; Luc Besson watched a lot of Hong Kong cinema.

To me there's a lot of HK and Gilliam mixed in there.

So different strokes etc. The movie we pretty much agree nailed it on all principles was Twelve Monkeys.

Blade Runner, 5th Element, and 12 Monkeys are some of my favorite movies, so I can bridge the gap for you guys. Somehow I see a lot of similarity in them.
posted by bongo_x at 10:18 PM on March 9 [3 favorites]


Jupiter Ascending is a masterpiece of a movie. And also a completely terrible movie, at the same time. It needs to be three times longer, because obviously a lot of things were cut to mere suggestions, but it lets other parts drag on interminably. There were scenes that were breathtakingly beautiful but completely boring. It's the only movie I've ever gone to see more than once in the theater. Agreed that the bureaucracy scene is brilliant, and it's made PERFECT by the Terry Gilliam cameo at the end of it. I love it so much for existing.
posted by jeweled accumulation at 10:36 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I didn't get The Fifth Element until a friend told me "Think of it as a French Heavy Metal comic."

I didn't get Jupiter Ascending until the same friend told me "Think of it as an A. E. Van Vogt story."
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:50 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


peeedro: "In college a guy from down the hall was totally ripped on mushrooms so he sat on my couch and held up his student ID and said "Leeloo Dallas. Multipass." for a solid hour.

It was funny every time. I still laugh thinking about it now.
"

I fucking hated working at Staples after that movie came out.

See, Canon made a line of all in one machines. Keeping in mind I cringe going in the visually impaired coworkers office, since she has a sign up mentioning her service animal's name is Flash "AHHHHHH ahhhh!", I will give you one guess what looped over and over and over in my head every time I walked past those boxes marked...

Multipass (Not the EXACT item, but it makes the point.)

Keeping this in mind, ask me why I hated the fact I had my house on Belmont Street! (Fuck me sideways, but there it goes!)
posted by Samizdata at 10:50 PM on March 9


He does actually lose his bearing in the "Gimme the Casshshshshshsh" scene, when the guy does his little dance after being disarmed and dismissed.

that's a very nice hat
posted by poffin boffin at 10:56 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


I just learned gimme the caaassssh guy is also the main romantic interest in Amelie, and the director of LA Haine. I am surprise!
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:32 PM on March 9 [18 favorites]


I love that you all love TFE - it says that you are all clearly my people.

I saw it twice when it came out - once in Paris (with my girlfriend who was living there at the time) and then a second time in the UK in an out of town multiplex. We thought it was wonderful & hilarious and fun & silly and laughed along with the Parisien audience who were all really into it & having a great time. Which made for a really weird experience when I went along with one of my best friends & his gf to the UK multiplex cinema and the audience was silent during he whole thing. When you’re the only ones in the audience laughing at all the jokes you start to wonder which of you is wrong...
posted by pharm at 11:57 PM on March 9 [10 favorites]


Wow, I just watched this movie two days ago. What an unlikely coincidence.

I say watched, but I stopped after about 30 minutes. It was just bad. Bad enough that I was distracted by all the MST3K jeers that were running through my head.

I guess I will try again and give it more time/beer and see how it goes.


nothing can match the power of the GLORIOUS HD source material

There is a 4K remaster. It's 90GB, memail me if you want it.
posted by ryanrs at 11:58 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I saw this post, and "People hi" leapt out of my mouth before I had fully processed what I was reading. A couple weeks ago I threw a "Muuul-teee-pahss" to a coworker and got a "She knows it's a multipass!" in response. We'd never spoke of 5th element before then.

I love this movie so damn much. Like many here, it's embedded in the fabric of my psyche. I haven't seen it really recently, but it's still part of my lexicon.

And now I need to see it again- anyone know where it's steaming?
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:59 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


(...clearly it was them. Philistines.)
posted by pharm at 12:00 AM on March 10


(ok it wasn't all bad. the cigarette that was 90% filter was funny)
posted by ryanrs at 12:08 AM on March 10


I still can't pass through the damn airport porno scanners without saying "I am a meat popsicle."

I love this ridiculous movie so much!
posted by Space Kitty at 12:12 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Big badda boom!

That scene is both entirely ridiculous and fascinating to me in that Leeloo is able to spontaneously see a poster with a child on it, use facial context clues figure out that "HELP" is indeed a cry for help, and then suss out how to pronounce it in the best linguistic manipulation I've seen in a movie with alien languages involved. Enemy Mine doesn't come close.

Also "badda boom" is apparently universal onomatopoeia.

I love this movie so much, guys.
posted by lesser weasel at 12:29 AM on March 10 [12 favorites]


(I say linguistic manipulation but I meant more "emotional manipulation using on-the-spot language acquisition" by which I mean "she played him like a futuristic fiddle")
posted by lesser weasel at 12:34 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


I think the thing that makes this movie wonderful, for me at least, is that it does not over-explain itself. Some exposition is necessary and that's mostly Vito Cornelius' function (and you will note that in all of the scenes that people bring up as favorites he's virtually absent.. even bit players with 15 seconds of screen time are more beloved than exposition placeholder man) but for the most part we get dropped into Corben Dallas' world without being encumbered with explanations of his or the world's back story. This has two huge benefits -- one, the pacing of the film doesn't suffer to fill in details that aren't crucial to what passes for the plot, and two, we are welcome to fill in the blanks using our own imagination which is virtually always better than whatever the filmmaker can provide.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:52 AM on March 10 [14 favorites]


It's four in the morning and I just started this movie. Thanks a lot.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:53 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


Just finished it myself. Viewing number (something in scientific notation).

Thanks, Metafilter!
posted by Samizdata at 1:28 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


lesser weasel: "(I say linguistic manipulation but I meant more "emotional manipulation using on-the-spot language acquisition" by which I mean "she played him like a futuristic fiddle")"

Like any of us with no compatibility issues could resist. Lies and calumny, I say, lies and calumny!
posted by Samizdata at 1:29 AM on March 10


Dallas' ridiculous slide-away apartment
Wow, I was remembering the slide-away apartment as being in Brazil. Now I'm wondering how much of those two movies I've got mixed up in my head...
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 1:29 AM on March 10


This movie is terrible. It's cheesy. It's incredibly bad SF, too. But I love it for all the world building and high comic book weirdness and vision.

I say watched, but I stopped after about 30 minutes. It was just bad. Bad enough that I was distracted by all the MST3K jeers that were running through my head.

That's... actually part of the fun of this movie. It's neither high SF or high cinema art, and it pretty much directly instructs the viewer to join its proverbial self in making fun of itself. Few movies pull this off so well. Brazil is another good example of this, or Galaxy Quest. And a really easy bad example of this would be the Austin Powers movies.

And you should check out the Everything Wrong With: The Fifth Element. (Warning: Spoilers! Duh!)
posted by loquacious at 1:48 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Yeah I think I gave up too early. The first 20 minutes or so don't have many redeeming qualities, but it's getting better.

The spaceships and aliens remind me of Red Dwarf.
posted by ryanrs at 2:03 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Huh. I can almost see Red Dwarf and TFE sharing the same gritty, overcrowded universe.
posted by loquacious at 2:16 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I love Fifth Element. I like going to the opera. I can't stand the diva's song in Fifth Element.
posted by thecjm at 5:36 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Of course, nothing can match the power of the GLORIOUS HD source material, but there's plenty of interesting concept art showing how this vision came to life:
A number of those sketches are the work of Jean-Claude Mézières, who is the co-author of the Valérian comic books. Besson, a long-time fan, hired Mézières (and Giraud/Moebius) to work on the project, so it's no surprise that TFE shares a lot of visual and conceptual DNA with the works of both artists (of course, this DNA had already found its way in a galaxy far, far away). In 1995, for French comic book lovers, the Fifth Element was the closest thing to a Valérian adaptation, at a time when such a movie was just not feasible. It took 20 more years for Besson to finally film Valérian, thanks to advances in CG and to all that sweet sweet sweet Taken/Transporter/Lucy money.
posted by elgilito at 5:48 AM on March 10 [8 favorites]


I loved this movie but haven't watched it all the way through since it came out, and I think I've just declared it the centerpiece of the next movie night at my house.

I also loved Jupiter Ascending, deeply and sincerely. The trick may have been that I went to see it with a twelve year old who at the time was identifying as a girl, and honestly, that movie was MADE for twelve year old girls. They sat there with giant heart eyes the entire time, and I had vicarious heart eyes through them, and it was the greatest way to watch that movie.
posted by Stacey at 6:00 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


This Tumblr Post (with gifs) describes one of the perfect things about The Fifth Element, the way that Korben spends the whole movie making *heart eyes* at Leelo, it's adorable :).

"#korben spends the entire movie looking at leeloo as if she’s made of magical rainbows and unicorn farts #smitten doesn’t even cover it #he’s so smote he’s basically just a burnt-out crater in the shape of a man#the movie wouldn’t have worked any other way"

There's also that moment where after the Diva performs everyone gives her a standing ovation and Korben stands with this look of astonishment at this beautiful thing he's witnessed, Willis sells it perfectly.
posted by invisible_al at 6:05 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


A big part of why the movie works so well, and why it feels so off-kilter compared to "how it could have been," is that the movie is (a) a French film in disguise and (b) a farce. And I don't mean that in a figurative sense: The genre of the movie is farce, and it's a genre the French excel at.

Take a look at Luc Besson's filmography: His major filmmaking activities are screenwriting and producing. In a very real way, the "action farce" is a genre he not only specializes in, but owns. Yes, he tends to write screenplays that are kinetic to the point of hyperactivity. Yes, the plots are often not only dumb, but gleefully over the top in their embrace of dumbness (*cough* The Transporter *cough* District 13 *cough* the Taxi franchise).

The secret to farce is (a) that the world it depicts would be a terrible one to live in, (b) that it's terrible because its people are terrible, (c) those people are terrible in ways we recognize in those around us, and (d) lighten up, at least you don't live in that world. In order to work, farce must always flirt with (or openly embrace) satire, so it is always really a commentary on the real world. At the same time, farce demands that the audience not take it seriously by refusing to take itself seriously.

Americans are bad at farce, and are especially bad at using SF farcically (Idiocracy is one of a precious few exceptions). I think it's partly because we take ourselves seriously, but also because we usually feel as though the appropriate response to social ills is, if not public indignation, then at least an active effort to call a spade a spade. Americans, as a rule, can't not explain to people why they're being idiots. This narrows the scope of comedy considerably.

Consider how a director like Michael Bay uses Bruce Willis in a movie like Armageddon. Willis is the long-suffering guy who "knows better," like he is in all his movies, and thus when pencil-pushers try to persuade him he's wrong, he lets them have it. He explains why he needs to have things his way. Willis in Bay's hands is someone who knows he's right, but needs to tell the other guy, often as smugly as possible. This, often, is what passes for humor in a Michael Bay movie, and is a big part of Bay's deserved reputation as king of the Moron Movie.

Compare this to how Willis is used by Besson. Willis is, again, the long-suffering guy who knows better. However, in a farcical universe, he has long since accepted that there's no point in trying to explain to people that they're idiots. It's a lost cause, because idiocy is human nature. So Willis spends most of the movie keeping his thoughts to himself, often simmering visibly. This is *much funnier* because there's no way to resolve the tension. Since human folly is inexorable, and a constant, the characters in a farce who are aware it's a farce have no choice but to accept their fate.

Viewed through this lens, all of the 5E's weird details come into focus. Ruby Rhod is a clear satire of the cult of celebrity, as well as the public's completely arbitrary standards of what signals masculine desirability (notice: Rhod is universally agreed upon to be the most heterosexually appealing man in the universe by everyone except Our Hero, who simply tolerates it because he knows better than to tell people he knows better). The heaps of garbage in the airport are an exaggerated version of ordinary urban litter, blown out of proportion to reflect how dysfunctional the society is. The thousands of "conveniences" that complicate life. 5E is a world no sensible person would want to live in. But it's bad for the reasons we recognize as all too familiar, and this lets us laugh at out world by taking the thorn off the rose.
posted by belarius at 6:10 AM on March 10 [83 favorites]


Another part of the fun for me at least is the lush costuming. Some of it somewhat pointedly mocks the cinematic "gay coding" of my lifetime, and was a contrast to the flat, anti-sexy of the Star Trek:TNG works that surrounded Fifth Element. The iconic Orange Shirt is one of many examples.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:17 AM on March 10 [12 favorites]


MY PEOPLE.

Can someone please do some sort of study that analyzes the population who love TFE and the population who love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, and see how much intersection there is?

Asking for a friend.
posted by cooker girl at 7:09 AM on March 10 [17 favorites]


You are FIRED! :D
posted by xedrik at 7:15 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


belarius: "The heaps of garbage in the airport are an exaggerated version of ordinary urban litter, blown out of proportion to reflect how dysfunctional the society is. "

Isn't the piles of garbage because the sanitation workers are on strike? Or is that just an explanation I retroconned in my head?
posted by Mitheral at 7:35 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I think I wrote something about this on Fanfare, but for me one of the things I love about TFE is it has a lot of elements of a gay, camp sensibility. Like, it might have been made by a gay director who isn't overly familiar with "how sci-fi movies are supposed to look and work," and isn't particularly interested in trying to find out anyway. I mean, Mila Jovovich started her career as a model. The costumes are by haute couture designer Jean-Paul Gautier, creator of Madonna's infamous cone bras. A prominent character is an opera diva. Ruby Rhod has a rather androgynous persona. And all of that is stuff that's highly unexpected in a "sci-fi movie," particularly at that time. It completely blew me away from the first viewing.
posted by dnash at 8:06 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


[GuyZero] Bruce Willis has that magical balance of being dead serious and winking at the camera at the same time. It's hard to imagine the move starring anyone else.

[Atrw] This'll sound weird, but Statham? Hes actually very good at that same balance.


Statham's certainly good at getting that balance. However, when compared to Willis (in this particular context) there is one key aspect* that's different.

The best way I can explain it is through the old Vulcan proverb "Only Nixon could go to China." (YT link) In this case, it's "Only Willis could have made Hudson Hawk."**

Willis has a natural ability to tap into a sort of "Loony Tunes" cartoon humor energy. Sometimes it's just the right amount at the right moment, sometimes it's too much at the wrong time, but he's got it. Statham can access that energy too, but it seems like it's a more concerted effort when it happens, and that comes across on the screen. That's not to say anything bad about Statham, only that it's different from Willis, and it would be difficult to achieve that unique balance that makes The Fifth Element work so well with Statham in that spot.



*you have no idea how hard it was to not use the word "element" there

** I actually really enjoy Hudson Hawk, and it's a shame it gets such a a bad rap.
posted by chambers at 8:07 AM on March 10 [9 favorites]


This movie is directly responsible for two aspects of my personality: my dark and unholy love for Milla Jovovich and my deep and abiding sorrow that Chinese restaurants are physically unable to drive up to my bedroom window.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:14 AM on March 10 [13 favorites]


I have nothing to add (She knows it's a multipass) except that I think this movie is the greatest collection of set-pieces ever (Anyone else want to negotiate?), and the ludicrous plot is just what it needs.

And I hate this thread because now I need to watch it again. (Perfect.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:14 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Isn't the piles of garbage because the sanitation workers are on strike? Or is that just an explanation I retroconned in my head?

I'm pretty sure you're right, but I can't remember why it wasn't in the film. Either it was in a deleted scene that explained that the strike was the cause, or that was planned to be shot (since the set was designed with it) but for some reason certain key scenes were scrapped during production and never shot.
posted by chambers at 8:17 AM on March 10


I'm rewatching right now and while I usually watch it at least once or twice a year, this time I'm realizing just how much this movie is responsible for my lifelong love of Gary Oldman. I mean, I was already smitten after True Romance and Immortal Beloved but I think The Fifth Element sealed the deal.
posted by annathea at 8:42 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


delfin: The live-action adventures of Captain Lincoln F. Sternn

I would watch this every day.

My user name (here and in a zillion other places) and the character name I use when I'm a dirty LARPer are all tributes to Hanover Fiste.
posted by hanov3r at 8:54 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


When this came out I was still living with my parents and we watched movies together a lot. We'd gone through a period where we watched several movies that coincidentally seemed to feature Gary Oldman with either very strange hair or a very strange accent.

By the time we got to this one, it almost killed us.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:55 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure there's some kind of background news item about the strike.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on March 10


*Every Monday Morning*
Hubs:
"Wake up, time for you to work now."
Me:
"What's the use of saving life when you see what you do with it?"
posted by domo at 9:02 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Can someone please do some sort of study that analyzes the population who love TFE and the population who love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, and see how much intersection there is?


I Love Buckaroo Banzai and it has a lot of sub-surface similarity to The Fifth Element - the unexplained background world building, the quirky weirdness of everyone, the loud clothes, the farcical wink and nod happening to pretty much everyone. But it's not nearly as dynamic and visually existing. As schlocky and weird as T5E can be, it still had a blockbuster budget and exciting direction and cinematography. Buckaroo Banzai feels like a B-movie with a better budget, not a blockbuster with a b-movie's soul.
posted by thecjm at 9:04 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Pretty sure there's some kind of background news item about the strike.

You're right, but I think that may have been put in after other scenes were cut. I can't remember where I heard that from. Maybe it was in either the commentary track or in some interview where it the question came up
posted by chambers at 9:04 AM on March 10


Here's a bit about the garbage strike from IMDB.
Nick Dudman's creature crew created a group of spindly, long-nosed alien garbage collectors that never made it to the final film. In the scenes at the spaceport, there's a huge pile of garbage which has gone uncollected because the garbage collectors are on strike (as explained in some dialogue). These creatures would have been seen amidst the garbage, holding sandwich board signs reading "On strike" if they had made it to the final cut.
posted by chambers at 9:06 AM on March 10


Yah, just watched this last night and there's an announcement over the spaceport PA along the lines of "We apologize for the inconveniences caused by the sanitation workers labor dispute." Plus the ticket agent apologizes again, although I don't think she gives a reason.

Which still works with belarius' point, I think, as I believe most residents of major Western cities would have had some sort of "public workers strike" (whether sanitation or bus drivers or whatever) in living memory, so the enormous piles of garbage are just an exaggerated version of something the audience has lived through.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:11 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Having had a garbage strike a few years ago in Toronto, the piles of garbage aren't much of an exaggeration.
posted by thecjm at 9:13 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Huh. I can almost see Red Dwarf and TFE sharing the same gritty, overcrowded universe.


I'd point tout the inherent and quite clear difference in sensibilities of French and British absurdist satirical Sci-Fi universes and why it is insulting to conflait the the two just as soonas I figure out what those clear differences are.

I think mainly its that in French Absurdist Sci-Fi the luckless protagonist is more likely to get laid.
posted by Artw at 9:27 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


ryanrs: The spaceships and aliens remind me of Red Dwarf.

Mac McDonald played Captain Hollister in multiple Red Dwarf episodes, and is the cop driving the police cruiser that's waiting at McDonald's fly-through when Dallas's cab goes zipping by.
posted by hanov3r at 9:29 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


We'd gone through a period where we watched several movies that coincidentally seemed to feature Gary Oldman with either very strange hair or a very strange accent.

Drexl Spivey in True Romance, how awesome was that?
posted by e1c at 9:41 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


cooker girl: "MY PEOPLE.

Can someone please do some sort of study that analyzes the population who love TFE and the population who love The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, and see how much intersection there is?

Asking for a friend.
"

Welp, I can personally offer a sample set of one.

Right here.

It's me, at least. Not a friend.
posted by Samizdata at 10:02 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


I'm more of a Repo Man guy.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Put me down for loving both 5E and Buckaroo Banzai.

I get some of the same, crazy madcap, world-building vibe from Mystery Men, another of my favourites.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:14 AM on March 10 [11 favorites]


I'm really bummed out by the reminder not just that Brion James has passed on, but that we have been without him for almost eighteen years. WAKE UP...TIME TO APPRECIATE YOUR BODY OF WORK.

I'll forever think highly of Chris Elliott for putting Brion James in Cabin Boy.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:23 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


I think I'd almost forgotten where MULTIPASS came from...
posted by gottabefunky at 10:39 AM on March 10


Who else has created a keypair and named it "moolteepass" ?
posted by whuppy at 11:04 AM on March 10


If I ever put together a movie marathon, it's going to start out with Pacific Rim, then Speed Racer, then Repo Man, then Time Bandits, then Buckaroo Banzai, then Delicatessen, and wind up with 5th Element as the capstone. Sci-Fi farces that are amazing in either form or content or both (tho PacRim and Speed Racer are both a little too po-faced at times, if you have three comedic sidekicks stealing the show, it's less than in earnest.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:05 AM on March 10 [16 favorites]


Slap*Happy....can I...come to the movie marathon?
posted by cooker girl at 11:07 AM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Guardians of the Galaxy is probably the modern movie I'd pick for any "stuff-like 5th Element" fest.
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on March 10 [21 favorites]


I mean, Mila Jovovich started her career as a model.

pretty much all the extras in the movie were models irl.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:12 AM on March 10


At least until Valerian comes out!!!!
posted by cooker girl at 11:12 AM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I'm more of a Repo Man guy.

Hombre Secreto!
posted by leotrotsky at 11:13 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


30 years I've been listening to that soundtrack...
posted by Artw at 12:07 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Someone said above that Fifth Element isn't so much science fiction, but fantasy set in space, and I think that really ties in with belarius' stunningly good comment about farce.

Science fiction tries to take a look at the world and imagine a plausible future. Yes, it's ultimately about the present, but the bedrock of SF is the idea of plausible futurism.

Fantasy isn't constrained by plausibility, therefore it can do things SF can never do. Star Wars for example, isn't science fiction, it's space themed fantasy. And because of that it can go for exaggerated awesome stuff that just wouldn't work if you were worried about realism.

For farce to work, you can't be too tightly bound to realism or plausibility. In fact, I'd say you have to joyfully discard both. Which is why Fifth Element isn't SF, it's space themed fantasy. It has to be.

You've got to have the total absurdity of a firefight in the crowded spaceport and then just a few moments later everyone taking tickets and acting like everything is fine. Totally implausible, utterly unbelievable, and as far from realistic as you can get, but it works! It fits the narrative and tone of the move in a way that a realistic response to such an event never could.

Which is why, I think, Jupiter Ascending wasn't able to achieve what Fifth Element did, it never fully and truly abandoned realism, plausibility, it tried too hard to pretend that somehow the absurd stuff they were doing wasn't absurd at all.

Its a fine line, wallow too much in your implausibility and you just get a steaming pile of crap, and even masters like Besson can fail precisely because it is such a fine line and failure awaits you if you go too far one way or the other.

But when it works... Damn it works. It creates a movie that's ridiculous yet captivating and beautiful.

You can't do that with science fiction. But you can do it with fantasy, whether its set in space or on a planet.
posted by sotonohito at 12:21 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


You say that as if "dystopian farce" isn't a perfectly plausible future.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:26 PM on March 10 [11 favorites]


Artw: "I'm more of a Repo Man guy."

I love Repo Man too. Does that screw up the SCIENCE! ?
posted by Samizdata at 12:41 PM on March 10


fimbulvetr: "Put me down for loving both 5E and Buckaroo Banzai.

I get some of the same, crazy madcap, world-building vibe from Mystery Men, another of my favourites.
"

Yeah, that too.

Does that make me a lone wolf? You know, one that hunts alone? Albeit in an inexplicably high-pitched voice?
posted by Samizdata at 12:43 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


cooker girl: "Slap*Happy....can I...come to the movie marathon?"

Swing by and pick me up on the way?
posted by Samizdata at 12:45 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Galaxy Quest could also be added to that marathon.

"By Grabthar's hammer... by the Suns of Worvan... you shall be... avenged."
posted by domo at 1:12 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Is Galaxy Quest a farce or one of the best Star Trek movies ever made?
posted by nubs at 1:15 PM on March 10 [8 favorites]


Why can't it be both?
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:16 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Why can't it be both?

Two genres for the price of one...by Grabthar's hammer, what a savings.
posted by nubs at 1:19 PM on March 10 [22 favorites]


You say that as if "dystopian farce" isn't a perfectly plausible future.

Every other day, I wake up in the wrong science fiction future.

(Not getting into the issue of plausibility for a genre that routinely violates the laws of thermodynamics, relativity, and evolution in the service of a rolicking good read. Whoops.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:23 PM on March 10


Every other day, I wake up in the wrong science fiction future.

Heh. You should read "All Our Wrong Todays".
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:27 PM on March 10


The City of Lost Children would also be a good fit for the scifi-ish farce movie festival.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:38 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


If I ever put together a movie marathon,

Good.. Good... Good... No Galaxy Quest?
posted by mikelieman at 1:39 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


No, Alien Resurectiom, not you.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


And you should check out the Everything Wrong With: The Fifth Element.

I am unable to pass by a link to Cinema Sins without offering a link to the brilliant Everything Wrong With "Everything Wrong With..." series.

Especially Everything Wrong With "Everything Wrong With Captain America: Civil War"
posted by straight at 2:02 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


There's something about the YouTube format that makes it especially prone to bullshit gotchas.
posted by Artw at 2:18 PM on March 10


fimbulvetr You're the only other person I've met who liked that movie.
posted by sotonohito at 2:18 PM on March 10


fimbulvetr is terribly mysterious.
posted by Artw at 2:20 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


(Plus they can, like, cut guns in half with their mind.)
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Hold on to your butts!

I want to get excited for this, i really do.

But Luc Besson hasn't made good movie in years. I mean, did you watch Lucy? Yikes
posted by emptythought at 2:47 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Maybe he's saving it up, like Terry Gilliam clearly is.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Wait, people don't like City of Lost Children?
posted by Aznable at 2:58 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


My one regret about Mystery Men was that they couldn't work Flaming Carrot in as a cameo, like in the background at the hero recruitment picnic where they met the Bowler?

Were they like "we'll save that for the NEXT Bob Burden movie because he's in such demand from Hollywood?"
posted by delfin at 3:04 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


chambers: "Isn't the piles of garbage because the sanitation workers are on strike? Or is that just an explanation I retroconned in my head?"

soundguy99: "Yah, just watched this last night and there's an announcement over the spaceport PA along the lines of "We apologize for the inconveniences caused by the sanitation workers labor dispute." Plus the ticket agent apologizes again, although I don't think she gives a reason.

Which still works with belarius' point, I think, as I believe most residents of major Western cities would have had some sort of "public workers strike" (whether sanitation or bus drivers or whatever) in living memory, so the enormous piles of garbage are just an exaggerated version of something the audience has lived through."


Again, it's a French movie. The French love to strike, it's central to their national identity going back to the Revolution. Anyone who spent any time in a French city in the 90s would immediately recognize the combination of litter and striking sanitation workers as uncomfortably familiar.
posted by belarius at 3:06 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


as for jupiter ascending, it would've been 10,000x better if there was someone comically narrating/reacting to every stupid thing that emperor redmayne tittycape was doing, highlighting all his stupid scenery-chewing moments. as it was it just took itself so embarrassingly seriously. the intergalactic DMV bureaucracy scene? that was hands down the best part of the entire movie and if the majority of the movie had been EXACTLY LIKE THAT it would be in my top 10.

Ok, i was JUST trying to explain exactly this to a friend.

Looper suffered from the same thing. it's ALMOST cheesy and absurd, but it takes itself too seriously.

I'm starting to think that studios wont make movies like this anymore with "grit" and seriousness. I feel like this is honestly what killed Lucy too.

Jupiter had all the elements to be a great roller coaster movie like this, but gets tripped up in serious action and ends up feeling like fucking revenge of the sith or something. You can see the whimsy and absurdity desperately trying to shine through and stand on its own, and getting slapped down.

That DMV scene was hilarious and amazing, but felt like a complete non-sequitur with the tone of the movie.

All of the movies i mention feel like someone being forced to rewrite a plot summary to fit a prompt that has nothing to do with the original intention. It's like a fake affected accent.

And seriously, can anyone think of any movies in the past 10 years or so which have the same tone as fifth element, and several other 90s-ish movies like this? It's like no one will greenlight it anymore.
posted by emptythought at 3:07 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


Pacific rim is closest, and is great, but still seems to stop just a bit before full-absurdity even if some of the costumes reach that level.
posted by emptythought at 3:08 PM on March 10


as for jupiter ascending, it would've been 10,000x better if there was someone comically narrating/reacting to every stupid thing that emperor redmayne tittycape was doing,

You hear that Rifftrax? ps. Hurry up because now I kind of want to watch it after this thread.

pps. The Fifth Element is AWESOME! I mean Scarab Beetle space suits c'mon!!!
posted by Capricorn13 at 3:17 PM on March 10


(Plus they can, like, cut guns in half with their mind.)

You're talking about the Sphinx, right? I mean, his power other than being TERRIBLY mysterious.
posted by nubs at 3:25 PM on March 10 [5 favorites]


Oh shit, you already made that joke. Just ignore me, my superpower is missing the thread.
posted by nubs at 3:26 PM on March 10


City of Lost Children is so lovely. Didn't mention it myself because it's a touch obscure. Amelie was mentioned tho, so kinda in spirit?
posted by Strange_Robinson at 3:26 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


The City of Lost Children

I will watch anything with Ron Perlman. Seriously.
posted by valkane at 3:27 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Valid.
posted by Artw at 3:32 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


A couple of months ago I was in a grocery store when I overheard a mom in the next aisle over giving her kid the full-name treatment while dressing him down for acting a fool in public. Kid's name was Korben Dallas [Lastname].

Reader, I damn near swallowed my own tongue trying not to crack up or scream the poor child's name like Ruby Rhod.

I think I might need to flomp down on the couch tonight with some good takeout and indulge in this movie. It's been too long.
posted by palomar at 3:37 PM on March 10 [18 favorites]


The opening established Dallas is a slob, sleeps late, drinks to much, broke, makes promises to no one he'll do better next time, smokes, is ex-military and his wife left him all in 1:27 minutes.

It is the most Bruce Willis opening of all Bruce Willis movies.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:39 PM on March 10 [25 favorites]


WE NEED SOME HEAT HERE MAN

This scene is so demonstrative of the movie's depth in its art design. They take a whole minute to show the refueling and parasite cleaning process -- an entire set built just for this. Then there's two interesting characters expressed in the fuel attendants, and poof then they're gone. None of this does much for the core story line other than give a reason for the pilot to open the hatch revealing stowed-away Father Cornelius; hardly vital. The whole thing could have been left out. But it adds so much to have the lively Rasta and his morose partner inject a little but substantial slice of life into the movie.

So many details like this all over the place make a Die Hard In Space flick into a movie that is just lovable.
posted by buzzv at 5:23 PM on March 10 [17 favorites]


If it were German/Canadian instead of French I guess it would end up as The Lexx.
posted by Artw at 5:25 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


200+ comments and no one has celebrated the fact that Tricky was also great in this? Madness!
posted by FatherDagon at 5:29 PM on March 10 [7 favorites]


Looper suffered from the same thing. it's ALMOST cheesy and absurd, but it takes itself too seriously.

I think in Looper both Willis and Gordon-Levitt sell the hardboiled noir element pretty well and yeah, they keep it on the serious side. I liked Looper and thought it did a pretty good take on the usual time-travel-murder trope. I think if it had been cheesier it would have fallen apart.

As belarius notes, Fifth Element is fundamentally a space farce which is indeed a pretty narrow set of films.
posted by GuyZero at 5:29 PM on March 10 [4 favorites]


Since there's so many people showing their love for Buckaroo Banzai, here's something from the 'momentary references to things happening in the background that really make you curious but leave you without an answer' department:


The real story behind the unexplained "watermelon in an industrial press" scene in Buckaroo Banzai

posted by chambers at 5:37 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


Oh yeah, Delicatessen and City of Lost Children, I mean obviously.

I was always a touch heartbroken that the Jeunets didn't just keep cranking out dystopian future French SF farces forever. Jean-Pierre Jeunet told me that he had attempted to hire Tardi as a scenarist or storyboarder for A Very Long Engagement due to Tardi's landmark works set in World War I but had been dissappointed that they could not make it work. I gathered the impression from his answer that they had worked together in the past, whether in Jeunet's BD days or in his film work I could not say. Besson, for reference, wrote and directed the somewhat disappointing adaptation of Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec (which does leave me holding my breath for Valerian un peut).

It's the Franco-Belgian comics-adaptation mafia! Man, they must have been pissed when Spielberg nabbed Tintin and turned out an adaptation superior to any of the preceding interpretations.

(I was at a festival screening and he was in attendance, so during the Q&A I asked a couple questions from the audience. Very weirdly he also said that he had never noticed the relationship between the plot of A Very Long Engagement and that of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice but immediately understood what I was getting at and started reeling off commonalities. I was sorry I didn't have a gig to actually do a real interview with him on the flick.)
posted by mwhybark at 5:40 PM on March 10 [3 favorites]


The 90s were indeed a weird time when Tricky would randomly be in things.
posted by Artw at 6:17 PM on March 10 [6 favorites]


Needs "randomtricky" tag
posted by rhizome at 6:56 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


It was a time when you could go to the movies and you'd never know if Iggy Pop or Ice-T or Goldie might be about to look up on your screen. Watch out! Here's Rollins!
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Rollins is still kicking it.
posted by valkane at 7:04 PM on March 10 [2 favorites]


1995 Draft of the script.
posted by fings at 7:06 PM on March 10 [1 favorite]


I got a letter from the government the other day, I opened it, read it. It said I was a sucker and that Tricky was underappreciated in 5E.
posted by GuyZero at 7:46 PM on March 10 [9 favorites]


Scene Steal in the Hour of Chaos, P. Enemy 1989
posted by Artw at 8:40 PM on March 10


Henry vs. Dolphie
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:44 PM on March 10


Besson, for reference, wrote and directed the somewhat disappointing adaptation of Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec

I dunno, I guess it could have been tightened up a little (but hey, it's Besson), but it looks great, got pretty good reviews also outside France, and as comic adaptions go I definitely find it more entertaining than most superhero stuff (*). And Louise Bourgoin is most excellent. Original trailer.

(but then I grew up with Franco-Belgian comics, and my favourite movie ever right now is this Belgian masterpiece, so ymmvobvs)
posted by effbot at 7:38 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


Describing T5E as a spec fic* farce captures perfectly why it works and why the equally lush Jupiter Ascending and John Carter of Mars failed. It knows it's a piece of French absurdist comedy, a City of Lost Children, an Amelie, and plays that to the hilt. It's stylish and sexy and over-the top and spends a great deal of the time winking at the audience. An English version would more resemble a panto, i.e. Red Dwarf or Dr. Who, while an American one might look like Galaxy Quest (or the nearly-forgotten Quark). If you're Italian, you get Flash Gordon.

JA (and JCoM) have a model that, while not cut from the French mold, might have worked perfectly for them, the actions comedies of the 1980s and 1990s, of which Arnold Schwarzenegger is the undisputed master. Though, not incidentally, Bruce Willis was arguably the number 2. JA especially missed the boat here: Kunis didn't have the gravitas or the comedic timing to do the role justice and there really wasn't enough there for her to work with either. But put an actor with some comedic presence in the role, an Aubry Plaza or a Sandra Bullock in there as a lead, get a ghost writer (Steven de Souza is still around) to punch up some of the dialogue, and we could well have had another movie as memorable and quotable as Commando or Die Hard.

*or science fantasy or however taxonomists like their categories labeled---sf is almost as bad as EDM sometimes.
posted by bonehead at 10:16 AM on March 11 [2 favorites]


The real story behind the unexplained "watermelon in an industrial press" scene in Buckaroo Banzai

Why would I want to click that if I believe in beauty in this world?
posted by dhartung at 12:35 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


You can put me in the TFE/Buckaroo Banzai camp. Add in Brazil while you're at it.
posted by lhauser at 12:54 PM on March 11


...the nearly-forgotten Quark...

I have never forgotten Quark.

"Space Baggies!"
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:25 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


I have a copy of Quark's pilot on my harddrive. It's one of those things that really didn't translate outside it's particular timeframe.

Why did I open this thread? Oh yeah. Just made a red Jambalaya which took the same time as it took for me to rewatch T5E on the kitchen video server.
posted by mikelieman at 4:43 PM on March 11


So, I'm finishing watching this, and it's even more fun than I remember it.

It helps that everyone is in with the joke and know exactly what do to make it fun. Wish I could be on the room when Besson told Chris Rock to do "Mega Prince as a DJ IN SPAAAACE".

I'm starting to think that studios wont make movies like this anymore with "grit" and seriousness. I feel like this is honestly what killed Lucy too.
I have to agree. Lucy tries to be a serious movie, but for Pete's sake, it is so mindblowingly dumb it would have been helped a lot by being more aware of that and winking at it.
Besson does quirky well. Play with his strengths, not what focus groups say.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:14 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


cough*christucker*cough
posted by mwhybark at 7:33 PM on March 11 [5 favorites]


I have never forgotten Quark.

Me either! I can remember watching it with my family and just laughing hysterically. I'm not surprised to hear it didn't age well, but for the time it was remarkable for TV science fiction.
posted by tavella at 9:11 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


cough*christucker*cough
Aw, crap. I had the impression I messed up, but almost as soon as I hit post, the battery went dead.

The internet never forgets. Particularly when you miss the edit windows.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:38 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


This might help: Chris Rock or Chris Tucker: A Cheat Sheet
posted by effbot at 10:24 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


I've mentioned before that I didn't know who Chris Tucker was before seeing The Fifth Element and I assumed Ruby Rhod was played by a woman. The movie and that character were so delightfully weird that it seemed like a reasonable thing to believe.
posted by peeedro at 11:43 AM on March 12


I remember going "Oh shit, it's the dude from Friday!" probably on my second or third viewing, and I'm pretty sure I saw "Friday" in the theater.
posted by rhizome at 8:42 PM on March 12


Fifth Element is even better if you've only ever seen the edited-for-time cable version. When you do finally see the full version, it's disappointingly coherent.

(Seriously, we could not understand the plot the first time we watched it, even all the way through. It took repeated viewings for us to fill in the pieces. It was on cable multiple times a day for months in the late 90s. I rather want that edited for time version again.)
posted by JawnBigboote at 11:45 AM on March 13


AZIZ! LIGHT!

Fuck your aleza and google whatevs. Until I can scream this and the lights come on, it's all bullshit.


It always warms my heart when, after the final, exasperated "AZIZ, LIGHT!", and the spaceship illuminates him, the professor responds with a pleased sigh, and "Thank you, Aziz. Much better." I kinda really dig that this minor character is not an unfeeling dick, he's just really dedicated to his work and has come across something really cool that he wants to get a good look at.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:48 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


One of my favorite anecdotes about this movie (please nobody tell me it's not true) is that costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier was on set for the big scenes (Phloston Paradise, the crowd in the background of the "Multipass!" scene, maybe others) and checked each and every extra's costume before filming started.

I'm pretty sure we saw that in a behind-the-scenes/making-of video.

My favorite take away from that docu was Mezieres & Moebius, after talking about their history in French comic books, Metal Hurlant magazine, and the whole process of envisioning, designing, and realizing the movie they had been sos intimately involved in was in the theaters, but that neither of them had actually seen it as a whole movie. They'd been intimately involved in how it looks and making it, but hadn't sat through it.

So one says to the other, "It's playing around the corner." So off they go and pay to see it for the first time. When they came out, their elation at what they saw up on the big screen was captured by one of their wives (who had her camera handy).

And so there is a photo of these two grey-haired luminaries of bandes-dessinées, in front of a HYOOGE promotional poster for the movie just outside the theater, embracing and jumping up and down with these huge smiles of pure elation.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:10 PM on March 13 [5 favorites]


This scene is so demonstrative of the movie's depth in its art design. They take a whole minute to show the refueling and parasite cleaning process

I would argue this entire sequence, with the cuts between the cockpit, ground crew, and ruby rhod/the flight attendant is almost flawless.

It manages to cram 3 little vignettes in with rapid cuts without ever feeling hectic. It's like a really badass funky bass solo of editing.

Every time i see that sequence in the context of the film again it makes me smile and wows me, even though i've seen the movie like 100 times.

And the ridiculous thing is, it's like seeing one particularly memorable song in a rock solid live show. This movie has a bunch of other really tight little capsules of great like that.

It's not just the thoughtful little things they include like that which are totally "unnecessary", it's that they're so tightly integrated that until you stop and analyze it you don't even realize it's extra bonus content.
posted by emptythought at 10:30 PM on March 13 [8 favorites]


On rewatching it this weekend, one thing I noticed was how delightfully tight so many of the cuts were, like you see so often in Archer. That sequence emptythought mentioned is one of many similar sequences through the movie. It's amazingly well shot.
posted by sotonohito at 5:27 AM on March 14 [3 favorites]


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