As readers of this blog know, I’ve asking for quite a while “what happened to the 1 1/2 hour movie?”
Well, the 1 1/2 hour movie is alive and well and playing at a theather near you. In the last couple of weeks I’ve enjoyed three excellent movies, which are entirely different from each other: Persepolis, The Band’s Visit, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.
Persepolis is an animated moview entirely in black and white (very little grey) except for a few select scenes that take place outside Iran. It is based on the real-life memoirs of Marjane Satrapi which she had published in the graphic novel of the same title.
Persepolis is entirely in French with English subtitles and I’m glad they didn’t dub it, since real-life mother and daughter team Chiara Mastroiani and Catherine Denueve do the voices of Marjaname and her mother. This is an intensely personal story and having their casting adds another layer to the film.
Anyone harboring any illussions that the Iranian regime respects women’s rights would be well advised to stay away or risk losing that comfortable fantasy forever. Persepolis shows how the Ayatollahs killed all Communists upon reaching power, how young people perish for engaging in the most normal tasks, and how a woman’s spirit can only survive by going into exile.
Persepolis is intense, heartbreaking, and possibly the best animated film I’ve seen.
Here’s the trailer:
The Band’s Visit tell the story of the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra’s first twenty-four hours in Israel after getting off the airport and taking a bus to the wrong town.
Unfortunately for them, they arrive at a small town where not much is happening, they are low on funds, and there’s no place to stay. They are scheduled to play at the opening of an Arab arts center and have no way to get to get there. This Arab arts center in Israel adds subtext to the story (particularly since one has to wonder, is there a Jewish arts center anywhere in the Arab world), without weighing down the film.
Luckily, the very beautiful Dina (played by Ronit Elkabetz) serves them a nice lunch at her cafe and arranges for some shelter for the night. The dynamic between Dina and Tawfik (played by Sasson Gabai) is the most interesting part of the plot but you don’t need to wait for them to show up; indeed, the most moving scene may be when the clarinet player is talking to the young father in the father’s bedroom.
I won’t go into details of the rest of the band’s adventure but this is a really good film about people who may be just like other people you know but who are never ordinary. The actors are perfect, and the movie is funny, endearing, and moving, sometimes all at once.
In Arabic, Hebrew, and heavily accented English, with subtitles in American.
I’m not all that fond of chick flicks and have been known to really enjoy the Terminators, the Gladiator and 300, but I finally found a chick flick I absolutely adore: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. Even the tag line, “Every Woman Will Have Her Day” screams “Chick flick!” at you, so there’s an element of farce that the producers didn’t want to hide.
This is a Cinderella story, only that Cinderella is also Fairy Godmother, too.
Here’s what to love:
Deep-voiced Brits wearing black tie: Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong. Trust me, you’re going to love Ciaran Hinds.
Americans doing a good job: Frances McDormand, Amy Adams and Lee Pace
Good message, not heavy handed: Find the one who loves you for who you are, not the one who loves you for what you want them to think you are.
Great decor: Art Deco, with many flourishes that would be appropriate for the nightclub crowd
Beautiful 1930s style clothing.
1930s music, including big-band numbers and a duo.
Authentic London locations.
Miss Pettigrew will put a smile on your face. Go see it.