Late Night (2019)

I had medium hopes of this, on the plus side; Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling. On the downside; almost no trailers at the cinema, almost no advertising at all to be honest, almost like the studios had no faith in it. So I thought it might be good, but I had worries I would be disappointed. Thankfully that’s not the case here, this is probably one of my favourite films of the year so far. It was incredibly funny and VERY heartwarming. That was actually the most annoying part, word of advice; don’t eat salty popcorn in a film where you’ll need to wipe your eyes, if anything it will just make it worse.

So why does this film work? Well, the main reason is the cast: Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling are both at the top of their game here. Kaling doubly so as it’s her script. She’s probably best known from her performances in The Office and The Mindy Project, but anybody who knows about the crew of those projects also knows that she wasn’t just a performer, she wrote a lot of them too, so she’s not exactly inexperienced when it comes to writing. This is her first attempt at a feature and it does kind of show. There are moments where it seems like she’s not used to having that much time, so a lot of plot points occur really quickly when in reality they could have been held off slightly more. This is definitely true when it comes to the relationships between some of the characters, characters become close slightly quicker than they need to, then because there’s still a lot of the film left, they’re pushed back, then they’re close again, and so on.

Mostly though…..this film works. It really works. When it bites it does so with the ferocity of a rabid goose (can geese even get rabies?). And the points it makes are still important and relevant ones to make. They’re not just walking around going “sexism is bad!”, they’re pointing out how institutions which have historically been full of white men do not respond well to people who don’t fit that mould and as such deem people who don’t as outsiders, which makes it harder for them to get work. It also has a lot to say about female sexuality, and how the media treats them as they age.

This is as good a time as any to mention my (very) minor quibble with this film; it doesn’t really feel like it takes place in this universe. There are moments where they could refer to real shows, but in the end, they go with fictional ones, it just kind of breaks the immersion ever so slightly. Like I said, that is a VERY minor quibble though. I loved this movie and would highly recommend it to almost everyone (except Keith). I won’t recommend it passionately, I won’t scream my love for this film from the rooftops like I do other films (Persepolis, Bogowie etc), but if someone says “I feel like going to the cinema, not sure what to see though, I might go see the new X-Men film”, I will recommend this film to them, because it’s great, and Dark Phoenix is f*cking terrible (spoilers for Thursday’s blog).

Marrowbone (2018)

My cinematic history is full of films I knew nothing about but enjoyed immensely; Bogowie, Table 19, The Last Word. This was not one of those. It was a mess, and not even a hot mess. It has potential but never realises it and is too flawed to be recommended.

For starters; it doesn’t seem to know what kind of film it is. It’s shot like a horror movie, written like a drama, and paced like a thriller. It’s both all of these things and yet none of them. There’s nothing scary in it to warrant it being deemed a horror movie, the characters aren’t defined well enough to call it a drama, and the stakes aren’t enough to call it a thriller.

It also has too many twists, by which I mean it has more than one. It turns out that the “ghost” (that is referenced to about 3 times in the film) is actually their dad, who they locked in the attic after he tried to kill them, surviving for years on rats etc. THAT should be the main twist, it kicks off the third act. The other twist? All the other family members (apart from the main character) are now dead and he’s been imagining them to deal with guilt. That was too much. It overegged the pudding and didn’t really add anything. It also came after/was attached to, a terrible scene. It was with a scene that was the main character being chased by his dad, written as a scene full of tension of whether he’s about to survive. One issue: it’s a flashback. You can’t add “OMG is he going to survive?” scene in a flashback, unless it’s REALLY good, and this wasn’t. It felt like it was supposed to be at the start, it would have made sense then. That kind of sums up this film; bad choices were made somewhere that ended up harming the final product. It’s a shame as everybody involved in this is better than this. The writer/director also wrote The Impossible, which was incredibly brutal and interesting to watch.

I feel that somewhere, if this went through a few more rewrites it could have been interesting. It just needed a bit more care and it would have worked.

The Big Sick

After the craptastic double bill of Valerian and The Emoji Movie last week, finally I see something amazing (although I think it’s fair to say I didn’t exactly expect Emoji Movie to be anything other than bad): The Big Sick This film was as great as the combined awfulness of those two films. Incredibly funny, and with the right amount of heart. You’d need to be made of stone not to feel touched by this film. The characters are so well-written as well, every character seems fully fleshed out. They seem like they exist outside of the film.

kumail-nanjiani-emily-v-gordon-the-big-sick
Probably because it’s based on his real relationship with his wife (pictured here)

I’ve seen a lot of films at the cinema this year (45 to be precise), and this has had the best instantaneous audience feedback I’ve seen. I’ve seen horrors where a few people have sat there not flinching or jumping in fright, I’ve seen spectacle films where people are bored, and I’ve seen comedies where nobody is laughing. Everybody in the screen I was at reacted to this. They laughed at every joke (to the point where the laughter in the room was louder than the laughter on screen, in a scene set at a comedy club), people “awww’ed” at the right parts, it couldn’t have been more perfect if the film studio paid them to react like that.

It’s not a perfect film though. As much as he nails the performance 95% of the time, there are a few heavily emotional moments where Kumail Nanjiani looks like he’s desperately hiding a smirk, robbing the scene of some of the emotion. It’s not helped by how great the rest of the cast are; Holly Hunter is superb, Ray Romano is perfect in this, and I really want to see Zoe Kazan in more stuff now.

Vella_Lovell
Also random appearance of Vella Lovell which made me happy. New eps of Crazy Ex Girlfriend soon 😀

This is definitely the best rom-com I’ve seen at the cinema all year. Not too difficult though, as it’s the only rom-com I’ve seen this year. There’s actually not been that much romance in cinema this year, the only films where the main focus of the film has been romance have been:

  1. This.
  2. La La Land (musical drama)
  3. The Space Between Us (science fiction)

That’s a shame though as despite being deeply cynical and incapable of love or any positive emotion towards others, I do have a soft spot for the genre. Definitely Maybe is the film that fully cemented my Ryan Reynolds obsession, and Chasing Amy did the same for Ben Affleck. I think it’s because they’re usually very people-based. Action films are about the set-pieces, horror films are about the effects, but for a rom-com to work you need two things:

  1. Believable characters.
  2. Great dialogue.

They’re basically my kryptonite, especially dialogue. I’m a sucker for great dialogue, it’s probably why I seem to be the only person who liked Table 19 (actually I didn’t like it, I LOVED it, genuinely one of my favourite films of the year). It’s also a genre that doesn’t really get affected too badly by the quality of the way you’re viewing it. Some genres are really badly affected by what you watch them on. Horror, for example, is not exactly something you can appreciate watching on a small television screen on an airplane. So many films are “you have to see this in the cinema!”. Think of Avatar, that film is the biggest grossing film of all time. When was the last time you watched it? Do you know anybody who has watched it at home?  As Scott Mendelson wrote in Forbes almost 4 years ago

“Kids don’t play ‘Avatar’ on the playground nor with action figures in their homes. There is little-if-any ‘Avatar’-themed merchandise in any given store. Most general moviegoers couldn’t tell you the name of a single character from the film, nor could they name any of the actors who appeared in it … ‘Avatar’ didn’t inspire a legion of would-be ‘Avatar’ rip-offs, save perhaps for Walt Disney’s disastrous ‘John Carter.’ It didn’t set the mold for anything that followed save its use of 3D which turned the post-conversion tool into a valuable way to boost box office overseas”

With advances in technology happening at an astronomical rate, spectacle fades, good writing doesn’t. The best rom-com’s; When Harry Met Sally, Annie Hall etc, all have one thing in common; fantastic writing. You can watch them again and again and still love them. They also have a wide audience. As much as I do love odd films like Buried (Ryan Reynolds in a box), Bogowie (a Polish film about heart transplant) and Four Lions (a comedy about suicide bombers), I’m not stupid enough to think they have mass appeal. They’re too weird. Rom-coms are for everyone though. They have universal themes that almost everybody can identify with.

big-sick.png

So where does this film stand compared to the greats of the genre? It’s a little difficult to tell at the moment, but I have a feeling that if I was to sit down in a years time and watch this, I’ll still love it. It also has the best 9/11 joke you’ll likely to hear all year.

Recasting: Batman

This is pretty simple, we’re going to be casting our perfect Batman film to celebrate the release of Suicide Squad. Now I know, there was a more Batman-ey film released earlier this year, but we did a Justice League casting for that (available here) If you don’t know who Batman is then I’d like to say hello to you, 15th Century time traveller, marvel at our wonders; the internet, mobile phones, bubble wrap. Now read Batman.

Commisioner Gordon

c6cc207f32a1ad35b5b027dac17dce26

Denzel Washington

A different take on the character for sure, but he was still the first name that came to mind when I thought about who could take on the role of the stoic Gotham Detective. An underrated complex character, Gordon is one part the intellectual detective and another the bad ass police commissioner. Not only one of Batman’s closest friends (stories varying), in some ways Commissioner Gordon takes on the role of Batman’s handler, or at least one of his human connections that stops him from going over the edge. Without a doubt I believe Mr Washington would be able to bring the much needed gruff take to make the character his own and give a refreshing kick-ass Gordon who’s not afraid to get his knuckles dirty. Also he already knows how to rock a mustache.

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy-Lee-Jones1Yes, I know he’s already been in a Batman film, but anybody who see’s that one quickly wishes they hadn’t, so it doesn’t count. People say casting Batman is hard, try casting Gordon, imagine trying to find someone who can match Gary Oldman’s performance! Tommy Lee Jones is good at doing the whole “gruff cop” thing, he played it to perfection in The Fugitive. And if Ben Afleck can play an older Batman, then we need an even older Gordon, and whilst Tommy Lee Jones is old, there’s no doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s still got it. He still has the ability to become his character and entrance the audience with his performance.

Robin

Logan Lerman

Which Robin you ask? Hmmm. Though I think the extraordinarily talented young star of logan-lerman-photoshoot-logan-lerman-29210026-250-322The Perks of being a Wallflower could work well as most male incarnations of the character, I see him best as Tim Drake, the third, and to me most interesting, Robin. He always focused more on the detective side of Batman (he becomes Robin by working out who Batman is, like a badass) instead of just the physical like Dick Grayson seems to. Also, he lacks the usual tragedy in his past that motivates him to be Robin; instead doing it because he recognises Batman’s need for a Robin.

But why Logan Lerman?  Because I like him and think he just has the right look. From Perks to Noah he’s proven himself a great dramatic actor, and though the Percy Jackson films were…underwhelming at best, he still showed he could handle action well enough.

Taron Egerton

This will obviously only work for a specific Robin. Well, two specific Robin’s: Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne (with slight tweaking so that his initial story arc into becoming Robin happens quicker thtaron-egerton1-564x360an it did in the original source material). Robin should not be the finished article, he should be someone who needs guidance, who needs Bruce, but pretends he doesn’t. He basically needs to be a young adult acting like a petulant child. But you also need to remember that he is still Robin, so his still very dangerous and could possibly kill you due to being trained in weaponry, but not being too great at stopping himself. I think Egerton could do that, he could pull off that dangerous apprentice, and then, when the time comes, move onto further things with the character.

Catwoman

Catherine Zeta Jones2054803-catherine-zeta-jones-a-la-premiere-du-fi-950x0-4

What needs to be said? Just look at her. Catwoman’s core characteristics are that she’s wiley, sexy, and kick-ass. All things Zeta Jones just seems to naturally emit already, combined with her record as an action star from the likes of Zorro and RED, as well as her dramatic work, she seems like the perfect fit. But more than that, I like that she would really bring the modern ‘woman’ aspect to the role; almost pushing fifty, and as we’ve already seen multiple younger incarnations of the character, a Catwoman with a few miles on her, more experienced and seasoned, would be much more refreshing and exciting than any teenybopper flavour of the week.

Emily Blunt

eot_blunt

Odd choice I know but this was done for a simple reason: if you can be in a male-dominated genre such as an action movie, working alongside a titan of the genre like Tom Cruise, and portray a strong enough character that people remember you, you deserve more roles. Good actress, fantastic with action, and with that sexiness that is (in some iterations), central to the character.

The Riddler

Jesse Eisenberg

Because I, like the few people who enjoyed Eisenberg’s performance in BvS (we do exist,12918618_584740531692129_1489645070_n we’re not just myths), enjoy it mainly just for the entertainingly camp yet oddly menacing fun he gave in his every scene in the overwrought film. He was a needed shot in the arm of fun the film needed. But ‘camp yet oddly menacing’ is not a good description for Lex Luthor, it is however a perfect description for one of Batman’s more zany villains, The Riddler. Some people seem to think Eisenberg was trying to be Ledger’s Joker with his performance, and who really the fuck knows. But! Change his name, outfit and give him riddles to constantly weave, and you’d have a pitch perfect Riddler; the fun camp of Carrey’s but with some genuine menace more akin with Nicholson’s Joker. Sounds good to me.

matt-smith-doctor-who-image-01.jpg

Matt Smith

One aspect The Riddler needs is to act like he’s the smartest person in the room. There’s been a tendency to play this character as comedic, he may be somewhat hyperactive and dressed weird (not entirely unlike a certain time traveller), but he still needs to be taken seriously. He should be fun, not comedic, there’s an important difference. He needs to be someone who is not only the smartest person in the room, but also the person who’s enjoying the chaos the most.  Matt Smith actually can be dangerous quite well and he’s proven it numerous times. Plus if he does this we might actually forget he was in Terminator Genisys.

Bane

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

I’ll admit this is mainly superficial. Dwayne Johnson is huge, and so is Bane. So that equalsDwayne+Johnson+aka+Rock+films+scenes+set+new+ogGHuO_x0Tpl perfect casting. But there is a bit more to it than that, I swear. One thing Hardy’s take on the behemoth captured well was how charismatic Bane is, a master of words as well as muscles, but it’s the latter of that is something I don’t think he captured as well. Yeah Hardy was big, but he wasn’t Bane big (I know I know, Nolan realism and all that), that’s where I think Dwayne could come in magnificently; as if there are two things The Rock is known for,  it’s being fucking huge, and being very charismatic. The real hurdle would be whether someone as lovable as Dwayne Johnson can play a threatening villain convincingly and I don’t know, but I think he could. Again I think his sheer size will be his trump card in that department, and I think we can all agree we’ve seen less threatening looking people pull off being evil. Cough. One Hour Photo. Cough. Cough. Cough. Cough.

hqdefault

Batista

Oh look, we’ve both picked former wrestlers. And yeah I know this might be cheating as he’s been in a superhero movie already but come on! I mean, look at the guy! He’s built like a brick shithouse. I actually really liked Tom Hardy as Bane, my only issue with him is that he didn’t really seem big enough, Bane should tower over people, and Tom Hardy didn’t really seem to, he’d be perfect as another role. Batista on the other hand? Him as Bane would make it believable that he could be the one to break the Batman. Already had acting experience in the aforementioned Guardians as well as parts in Riddick and Spectre. If it came to it he could be a Bane that you truly believe Bruce Wayne would fear.

The Joker

Willem Dafoe

Once again, what needs to be said? just look at him; he almost wouldn’t need makeup. de45c1464d61b3b46bf510875f31ffa2Dafoe has made a career of playing deranged and creepy characters, so topping it off with the Clown Prince of Crime just seems natural (and who cares if he’s already played an iconic super villain? No one gives a shit Chris Evan’s played the human torch anymore.) But it’s beyond him just playing crazy well; it’s the lairs and distinctive ways he can play crazy, from a comical bloodsucker in Shadow of the Vampire, to a just plain nasty hitman in Wild at Heart, to just playing fairly normal guys in Platoon

 

Jake Gyllenhaal

This was kind of difficult for me but as soon as I thought of it I knew I had the right one: Jake Gyllenhaal. Now I know what some of you are thinking, “what, the Donnie Darko guy?” “what, the Brokeback Mountain guy?” “what, the City Slickers kid?” To which I say; watch Nightcrawler (and City Slickers, seriously? There is no way that’s the only film you know him from, you’re just showing ojakeff, now go away). Seriously, watch Nightcrawler, he’s insanely brilliant there with a sense of danger and fun that would make him perfect for the role of the Joker. The “fun” there is the most important aspect there for me, Heath Ledgers Joker was disturbing, no doubt about that, but it wasn’t that funny. The Joker should be a clown, their should be a comedic side to him, even if that comedic side is slow-cooked in sociopathy. For proof of this, what’s the definitive Joker story? The one most people use as a reference point for that character? Answer: The Killing Joke. Now, how does that story end? Answer: with a joke. The Joker tells Batman a joke mid fight scene that makes him break down in laughter (and maybe causes Batman to kill him, if certain sources are to be believed). Can you imagine Ledger’s Joker ending Dark Knight like that? It would seem weird and out of character. Gyllenhaal? I feel he could do it.

Mr. Freeze

Ralph Fiennes

Possibly the oddest choice on this list, but I think the most fitting if you know the character well. The Batman Animated Show’s take on Mr Freeze. The seminal show ralph-fiennes-by-kalpesh-lathigra2completely recreated the mad scientist with a freeze-ray into a sympathetic Shakespearean tragedy; a normal man who only became the villain we know because he was betrayed while trying to save his wife’s life, and then became stricken with grief ready to go to any extreme needed to avenge her. So who better to bring this bald heart of ice to life than this classically trained bald thespian? As when he’s not trying to kill boy wizard’s. Fiennes is known for his startling character acting, bringing depth and nuance to countless characters; from portraying Nazi’s to a Hotel concierge. Add in his action experience in the Harry Potter Series and you have an actor seemingly born to bring this chilling villain to heart stopping life.


Tomasz Kot.

I know, I can practically hear the “who?” from here. First off; stop saying “who”, it’s 2 in the morning and I’m trying to sleep. Secondly; watch Bogowie. He’s the lead in that and he has TREMENDOUS presence. The kind you don’t see anymore, he just carries himself in such a wonderful manner that you can tell he’s someone. The major downside to this is that this will probably meabogowien his emotional arc won’t be as effective as it was in the animated series due to English being the actors second language. But there’s a lot of characters in this hypothetical film, and I feel the villain who will have the least screen time would be Freeze, so you won’t have time to go into his tragic backstory, you need someone with presence who can come in for a few scenes and knock it out the park, and I feel he can do that.

Honourable Mention

Philip Seymour Hoffman as The Penguin.

I know, we usually try to make casting relatively realistic, but someone suggested this on Twitter and it just blew my mind how perfect this would have been. This is a role you know he would have taken on with gusto and given his all. And because Hoffman was so good you know that even if he was only in it for 10 minutes, people would remember it. People would clamour for him to have longer. This would have been one of the most perfect castings of all time, and it’s a real shame that it won’t happen. I will freely admit, I never liked The Penguin as a character, I found him too silly, too out there, too, dare I say it, comic-book to work. Then I watched Gotham, the Penguin in that is one of the highlights of the series and one of the best characters in television at the moment. So for a film version, you’d need to bigger, you’d need to go better, and who better than Hoffman?

hoffman.png

5 Best Films Dealing With Dark Subjects (A.K.A: How Films Help Us Cope)

Starting this Sunday I’ll be launching a new blog over here. Having two separate blogs dealing with similar content matter has meant I’ve been somewhat neglecting that one. As such I’ve decided to keep them completely different, all my reviews and end of year lists etc will be placed here, which begs the question, what do I do with the other one? The answer is simple: news. Every Sunday I’ll be posting a round up of the last weeks news. I picked probably the worst week to start with; Brock Turner, Orlando, and now Jo Cox, all news that broke this week, the same week I decide to start the news blog, now I’m not saying I’m to blame for all of it. So when the world seems to be turning to shit, who you’re going to call?

ghostbusters2016
No, not them. Never them.

On an individual level people turn towards music, most people have that one album they turn to in times of need (for me it’s I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning) but on a wide scale it’s films. It’s films that give us hope, that force us to stare into the abyss and envelop us. Films can effect us in a way other media can, music you can take in bitesized chunks whereas films you usually take it all at once. And unlike books everybody experiences it at the same pace, everyone is going through the same journey at the same time. So which films are the best at dealing with these kind of subjects? Well, these.

1. The Middle East – Persepolis

punk

Yeah, I know I mention this a lot. But it is very good. A bleak, yet still hilarious account of growing up in Iran during the most turbulent time in their recent history, made all the more depressing when you realize it’s all true. It’s one of those films that really makes you realize how awful it is over there, you realize exactly why hordes of people are attempting to escape, and how it was all kickstarted by British and US governments attempting to install a puppet dictator during the Second World War. That’s the great thing about being British, you look over the world, at Israel/Palestine, at Iran, at Ireland, and you can just sit their thinking “See that chaos? We did that”.

persepolis
Just one moment of many which is made better when you realize it happened.

2. The Holocaust – Life Is Beautiful

Vitaebella

I was torn between this and Schindler’s List. What won this one over is the fact that it doesn’t start awful, the holocaust elements don’t happen until about half way through the film. Before that it’s a somewhat silly Italian romcom, and I think that is kind of essential. The characters characterization is as a jokester, a clownish figure surrounded by horrific things. That’s what drives his character, it influences his relationship with his son, with the other inmates, and (spoilers) even his death. That’s why the first part is needed, we need to see the character in his natural environment, we need to establish his character. As such this film is, without a doubt, the best holocaust-based comedy of all time. Although the only competition is apparently awful and hasn’t been released.

3. World War 2 – Grave Of The Fireflies

grave-3-1024x554

There are two types of people in this world, those who cry at this film, and those without a soul. Animated, and done by a company generally known for doing the kind of heartwarming fantasy tales that used to be the forte of Disney, only with more violence and raccoon testicles. The typical US attitude to nuclear power is it causes superpowers, Japan see’s it as either unleashing monsters or causing horrific events, it’s almost as though they have completely different views on nuclear warfare for some reason.

atomic-bombing-hiroshima-nagasaki-70-years
Can’t imagine why.

This, alongside Barefoot Gen create a horrific narrative. One which focuses on the impact that war has on people. How much someone’s life can change and be impacted by somebody with no idea of what he’s done, somebody who never has to look into the eyes of the people he’s killed. This films is generally seen as an anti-war film in the US. Which is a bit weird, all this is doing is showing the effects, this is not anti-war, it’s just honest about what it entails. It could just as easily be seen as pro-war, you could argue that “we need this war to stop things like this happening”.

4. Heart Transplants – Bogowie

bogowie

Or, as it’s often called by me: “Fucking Bogowie! Holy shit!” Without a doubt the best film ever made about a ragtag group of misfit heart surgeons in 1980’s Russian-occupied Poland. This film is not just about surgery, it’s also about just living in that area at the time, how you could not get anything done without some form of bribery. You can really feel the frustration going through everyone involved. I knew this was based on a true story, but I didn’t realize how big the story was until the final moments, where it showed a picture from the aftermath.

This-is-Zbigniew-Religa_-Former-Minister-of-Health-of-Poland-who-died-in-2009-due-to-lung-cancer_-The-photo-taken-by-James-Stanfield

The above image (taken by photographer James Stanfield) was chosen as one of the best 100 photos ever published by National Geographic. The picture shocked the world, a doctor, carefully watching out for the patient, whilst another doctor sleeps in the corner. The patient, laying there, his life in the hands of equipment which is (let’s be honest) not fit for purpose. People were wondering if the patient will survive the week, yet he’s still alive today (sadly, unlike the doctor, the cigarette smoking former Minister Of Health Zbigniew Religa, who passed away from lung cancer in 2007). Look again at that picture, see the exhaustion on the doctors face, that’s there for good reason; the surgery itself took 23 hours, the doctor in the corner isn’t being lazy, he couldn’t physically stand anymore. It was physically and mentally demanding, as can be seen in this video (it’s in Polish, but worth watching purely for the footage of the surgery). Today, heart transplants save lives all over the world, and it’s thanks to doctors like Religa that that happened, but importantly, it’s also down to photographers like James Stanfield that we can truly get a glimpse at their dedication.

5. Terrorism – Four Lions

four lions

A somewhat different one from all the others. This is the only one on the list which isn’t based on a true event, but it’s still important and relevant. This a film that managed to annoy everybody, the tabloids were annoyed because “it’s mocking dead terrorist victims” whereas terrorists were offended because they were made to look like idiots. The thing is, when you watch it, it’s actually not that offensive. The subject matter itself is the only offensive thing about it, there’s nothing in the film really that makes you thin “ok they’ve gone too far now”.  Basically, he made an inoffensive film about the most offensive subject matter, for some reason I really connect with that. This film does have one thing in common with the rest of these films though: they’re all films which I would consider to be among the best I’ve ever seen. This is one of only two films I’ve seen applauded mid-film (the other was the sublime In The Loop)

tumblr_lv46unO9yN1qb74kqo1_500

So that’s our favourites. I think the lesson from this is this; it’s okay to talk about dark themes. You need something to shine a pinprick of light into the darkness. So bring on the darkness! Let me dive headfirst into oblivion so that I can burst out the other side with a new viewpoint on the world, so I can be permanently scarred and changed by what I’ve seen. Don’t get me wrong, being needlessly shocking or offensive is just lazy (seriously, fuck A Serbian Film, a film I’m lucky enough to have never seen) and pointless. But films that will shock you, and keep you entertained? That’s just the perfect mix. So I’ll end it there, if anybody needs me I’ll be swimming in a pool of nothingness.

Why We Love…Persepolis

When we first thought of this blog we wanted to write about more than film, we wanted to write about everything we loved; television, video games, music, all forms of media. Whilst we haven’t done this yet we will be for halloween. So with that in mind bare in mind how highly I rate this film when I say it’s one of the best things I own, not just film. If I had to take five forms of media with me on a desert island, well, then I’d take five books etc on how to survive in the wilderness, I’m not an idiot, but I would darn well regret not taking this.

jackson

So, onto the actual story. This is hard-hitting, it’s the true story of a girl growing up in Iran against the backdrop of the Islamic Revolution, and it’s just as happy as it sounds. Although this is a really brutal story, one that encompasses all manner of horrible things: war, assassinations, rape, suicide, Austria. Yet it is genuinely laugh out loud funny too, because, whilst all these awful things are happening, she is still a teenager for a lot of it, so is still sarcastic and cynical.

persepolis

I could spend the rest of this review telling you how important this film (and the book, especially the book) are in understanding a lot of the problems that in the Middle East, I could tell you how this film important this film is, instead I’ll just tell you why this film is important to me on a personal level. I brought this film on a whim. I was walking around Woolworths (which really dates this story) one day between split shifts, I saw this DVD cover, the tagline: War. Revolution. Family. Punk Rock. All Part Of Growing Up. I was suitably intrigued and decided to buy it.

punk

It’s strange to think how close I came to not buying this, that I’m only aware of one of my favourite films, and one of my favourite graphic novels through impulse buying. There’s so much that could have stopped this happening, if I wasn’t in the right mix of bored and just-been-paid I wouldn’t have brought it. I sometimes wonder whether I would have got into this film any other way. Yes, the writer later directed a Ryan Reynolds film (which was amazing by the way) but despite how much of a fan I was of the film, I’m not sure whether I would have checked out the directors previous films. It does have a good cast, Sean Penn in particular is amazing, but I’m not sure whether that would have been enough to make me watch it. There’s always personal recommendation, but for some reason I’m not sure I would have reacted well to “animated Iranian film that’s really brutal and depressing”.

628x471

I do love when stuff like that happens, when you take a chance and are rewarded. When you buy an album based purely on the album title and it turns out amazing.

LBD

When you buy a book based on the title and it turns out hilarious.

SNOW WHITE

When you see a film purely because you have a cineworld card and it turns out to be one of the best you’ve seen all year.

bogowie

Admittedly it doesn’t work out all the time.

F*ck this film. Seriously
F*ck this film. Seriously

But when it does you feel superb. You have got into something on your own, something you can recommend to others, which will hopefully become someone’s new favourite film/book/album etc.

I wasn't kidding about it being brutal
I wasn’t kidding about it being brutal

As much as I hate to, I will have to end this on a downer note. The book is very important, it teaches so much about life and freedom that if I ran an educational programme I would make it compulsory. So what was the American reaction to a book that showcases the struggles of everyday Muslims, that details the western intervention that led to the modern troubles, and that portrays non-Christians in a sympathetic light? It became the second most challenged book in American schools in 2014. Congratulations American schools, you’re now on an equal footing with other bastions of freedom like Iran and Lebanon. I hope you’re f*cking proud of all your freedoms.

Watch if you like:

  • Grave Of The Fireflies. Also brutal, also brilliant.
  • The Voices