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Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

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Things to Come

Things to Come is the detailed tapestry of one woman’s life, as she moves through an important transition.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

#125 July 25, 2012

Marie writes: Once upon a time, a long time ago and in a childhood far, far away, kids used to be able to buy a special treat called a Frosted Malt. Then, with the arrival of progress and the subsequent destruction of all that is noble and pure, the world found itself reduced to settling for a frosty at Wendy's, at least where I live. Unable to support a "second rate" frosted malt for a second longer, I decided to do something about it!

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A love letter to Iran

May Contain Spoilers
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These days when you mention Iran, we think of a nation on the brink of war. Extremist images come to mind, full of concealed women and bearded militants. Such stereotypes are useful in the drum up to war. But rarely do we step back to remember when Iran was as European as Europe, or that an autocracy does not necessarily reflect its people. We've forgotten how hundreds of thousands of Iranians risked their lives for the Green Revolution, long before the Arab Spring. There's more to Iran than Ayatollahs and Nuclear Weapons.

Iranian Cinema has always been one of the world's best, reflecting the country's incredible artistic heritage. This year saw Asghar Farhadi's A Separation take the much deserved Best Foreign Picture Oscar. Farhadi himself reminded us not to forget his people's shared humanity.

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TIFF 2007: Girl of Iran

View image They could be nuns. Those could be habits. But they're burkas.

What is that supposedly ancient Chinese curse? "May you live in interesting times"? The proverb may be of dubious origin, but it captures the fate of Marjane, the heroine of "Persepolis," in a Persian nutshell. The precocious Iranian girl is born during the reign of the Shah (Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi), witnesses his overthrow during the Islamic Revolution, becomes enamored of pop music and punk rock (and Bruce Lee) as powerfully disruptive and liberating political forces, and experiences a new world of sexuality and materialism in Europe. "Persepolis," based on the autobio-graphic novels by Maryjane Satrapi and co-written and co-directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, is absolutely enchanting -- a history lesson, a fairy tale, and a girl's-eye-view of growing up. It's a movie that makes you feel glad to be alive.

I wasn't familiar with Satrapi's work, but from what I've seen since, the (mostly black-and-white animation renders her style beautifully: a mix of charming, early Hanna-Barbera coloring-book simplicity, and more atmospheric watercolors or charcoals that suggest a '60s and '70s European sensibility. The delicately modulated tones of "Persepolis" are similarly sophisticated. It veers from hilarious to poignant, sweet to terrifying, abstract to concrete, personal to political, cynical to rhapsodic... and back again.

Our guide is the stubborn, courageous, effervescent Marjane herself, a smart and instinctively rebellious girl who (like most young Westerners) instinctively cobbles together her identity through pop culture and politics. Or make that pop culture as politics. The privately and publicly expressed preference of ABBA over the Bee Gees (or Iron Maiden over both) is just as important -- and in many respects equivalent -- to favoring the Revolution over the Shah. Marjane isn't always admirable (who is?), but we unfailingly empathize with her emotional, philosophical and ideological struggles. (And she has the wisest grandma in the world -- who also disapproves of her granddaughter's actions at times, but never offers anything less than unconditional love.)

"Persepolis" streams by in no time, yet manages to convey the sense of an entire childhood into early adulthood. Upon getting back to my room I immediately ordered the books, "Persepolis" and "Persepolis 2."

(Thanks to Ken Lowery for recommending this movie. It was just the nudge I needed to reshuffle my screening schedule.)

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Toronto #1: 2nd city for film festivals

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TORONTO, Ont. -- And now the ecstasy and madness begins. The 32nd Toronto Film Festival opens Thursday with no fewer than 15 films, and that’s before it gets up to speed. The Trail Mix Brigade is armed with their knapsacks, bottled water, instant snacks, text messengers and a determination to see, who knows, six, seven, eight films a day.

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