Jun 2008 24

Here are a couple of great movies now available to rent. Both French, both true stories, and both are wonderful films. Head down to check them out at your local shop now!


This adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name is an excellent film that infuses history and humor through the eyes of a child to examine the transition of Iran into a totalitarian state.
Written and Directed by Marjane Satrapi, along with Vincent Paronnaud, she adapts her semi-autobiographical novel with great effect allowing us to see the innocence and mind of a child wrapped in revolution through some wonderful hand-drawn animation.
The story follows Marji, an Iranian whose family is not sympathetic to the regime of the Shah in power and we come in on her story just as the revolution begins to make some serious head way in the 70’s. The story serves as a very interesting history lesson of the region and allows for people to see that not all Iranians are evil like our government might lead you to believe today.
Some terrible things happen along the way and a change in regime ended up not being what the people of the country expected. The film successfully coveys the issues and problems with the change of power and rules with the Islamic take over and control of the Iranian government. We see the struggle and unwillingness to adjust while also seeing the hypocrisy of Islamic laws at times. Marji allows us a view that is one sided but I feel is an accurate representation of the feeling of many of the people of Iran during these troubled times.
The film, as I have described it, sounds a bit dark and serious but that is what Marjane Satrapi does so well is to inject humor and lightness into the proceedings. The film is extremely funny at times and Marji as a young girl is a pop culture junky fireball that is just a blast to watch and entertains throughout. As Marji grows with the story and her experience she matures but is still able to see the lighter side of things without losing a proper and serious perspective on things.
Persepolis is a marvel in this way that it is able to wield such an amazing and entertaining story about a course of events that caused a number of pains and atrocities for so many people. For everyone afraid of subtitles, the film is to be released later on this year with an English language track professionally recorded and observed by the directors and I hope more people discover this wonderful little film that deserves its Oscar nomination. This comes with a high recommendation for any fans of history, animation, or anyone looking for a wonderful story of the human spirit and the effect political unrest can have on it and the people around it.

and here is the other

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Julian Schnabel’s new film is an excellent piece of cinema that is both an incredible true story matched with a unique sense of storytelling, that you wouldn’t think would work as well as it does, that immerses you in the lead character of Bauby. We awake with Bauby and for the first 15 min or so we experience everything that happens to him as him from the perspective of his eye. Bauby has encountered a stroke, is paralyzed head to toe, is unable to speak, but has full rational capabilities of thought and memories. He is “locked in” his body, fully able to respond mentally with no way to manifest it physically. He develops the ability to communicate through blinking his one good eye and we follow his thoughts and life after the accident throughout the film.
The film shows us effectively what it might be like to be “locked in” like Bauby as we easily feel his emotions and experience with him his conditions as he moves along with his progress. We discover every facet of this lifestyle right along with Bauby and it is an amazing story to feel a part of and experience.
Mathieu Amalric is fantastic as Bauby in both the flashbacks before the stroke and as the disfigured “locked in” post stroke Bauby. Bauby was an editor for Elle magazine, a womanizing playboy of sorts that jumped from model to model living an extravagant lifestyle throughout France. He had three children with the same mother but never married her and also had an extreme attachment to a mysterious lover that we slowly learn more about as the film moves along.
Bauby is looked over and cared for by three beautiful women, much to his pleasure, two of which are his speech therapists and the woman who takes his dictation. These women help him to both communicate and learn to live with his new self while also helping him become someone he never thought he would be. We build a connection with these characters as we go along, right with Bauby and everyone feels so real and genuine it allows us to be immersed in the story.
The woman in his life are played brilliantly by Marie-Josée Croze, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Anne Consigny, the mother, speech therapist, and dictation taker respectively, and all allow us and Bauby to see a part of himself that he didn’t know was there.
The film as a whole works splendidly for the first hour or so, and while never falling below pretty good, does drag and meander in a couple of spots that don’t quite live up to the caliber of the rest of the film. Though, this should not deter anyone from seeing this film. It is a truly unique vision and spin on the biopic filled with a wondrous style that puts us into both the mind and body of a man with an illness that almost seems unimaginable. Luckily this film proves it’s not and we are able to experience this fascinating tale with some amazing insight into the condition at hand.


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