Persepolis (2007)

Persepolis
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Writer: Vincent Paronnaud
Based on: Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical comic
Cast: Chiara Mastroianni, Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes Benites, François Jerosme, Tilly Mandelbrot
Seen on: 24.5.2021

Plot:
Marji (Gabrielle Lopes Benites) is precocious and rather wild girl. She grows up with her parents (Catherine Deneuve, Simon Abkarian) and her grandmother (Danielle Darrieux) in Tehran. Her family is political – a fact that has gotten her uncle Anoush (François Jerosme) into prison already. With the Islamic Revolution, things become even more difficult for them. Finally her parents decide to send Marji – now a teenager and called Marjane (Chiara Mastroianni) – to Austria for her own safety. But being an Iranian girl in Austria isn’t much easier than being one in Iran.

Persepolis has been on my radar for a while now, and I’m not sure why I never watched it until now (probably a case of me wanting to read the comic this is based on first, but I never did). Anyhow, I watched it now and it really was very good.

The film poster showing Marjane, her chin in her hand. Behind her is a bubble that shows her family - mother, father, uncle and grandmother standing around a sofa on which she sits as a child.
Continue reading

Cézanne et moi [Cezanne and I] (2016)

Cézanne et moi
Director: Danièle Thompson
Writer: Danièle Thompson
Cast: Guillaume Canet, Guillaume Gallienne, Alice Pol, Déborah François, Pierre Yvon, Sabine Azéma, Gérard Meylan, Laurent Stocker, Isabelle Candelier
Seen on: 25.4.2021

Content Note: sexism, misogyny

Plot:
Émile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) have known each other since they were children. But as they grew older, they grew apart from each other. But now Cézanne has come to visit Zola and both are excited to see each other again. Once they get to talking, though, tensions between the two become obvious: Zola wrote a novel that draws on their life and Cézanne is unhappy with how he was portrayed in it. As both reflect on their relationship with each other, their lives and their women, it is unclear whether they can move past that tension and the very different way their lives developed.

Oh boy, Cézanne et moi was an absolutely boring movie. It moves slowly and spends most of its time dwelling on the sexism and misogyny those two men exhibit, while still wanting us to like them. That equation doesn’t work, nor does the film.

The film poster showing Émile Zola (Guillaume Canet) and Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) walking through a landscape that looks like it was painted by Cézanne.
Continue reading

Skin (2018)

Skin
Director: Guy Nattiv
Writer: Guy Nattiv
Cast: Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, Daniel Henshall, Bill Camp, Louisa Krause, Zoe Margaret Colletti, Kylie Rogers, Colbi Gannett, Mike Colter, Vera Farmiga, Mary Stuart Masterson
Seen on: 23.10.2019

Content Note: (critical treamtent of) fascism, racism

Plot:
Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell) has basically grown up in the neonazi scene and is one of the bigger players in his area. He is really committed to the cause – covered in tattoos from head to toe that make his allegiance visible for everyone, and taking part in more than one act of violence against marginalized communities. But when Bryon meets Julie (Danielle Macdonald) and her three daughters, his desire to quit the neonazi scene grows. The scene isn’t willing to let him go that easily, though.

Skin tackles a difficult topic and tries to do so with complexity, but doesn’t always do it justice. The great cast makes up for a lot, though.

The film poster showing Bryon (Jamie Bell), his face covered in tattoos.
Continue reading

Blinded by the Light (2019)

Blinded by the Light
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Writer: Sarfraz Manzoor, Gurinder Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges
Based on: Sarfaz Manzoor’s memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N’ Roll
Cast: Viveik Kalra, Aaron Phagura, Nell Williams, Dean-Charles Chapman, Kulvinder Ghir, Nikita Mehta, Meera Ganatra, Tara Divina, Rob Brydon, David Hayman, Hayley Atwell
Seen on: 28.8.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) classism, racism

Plot:
It’s 1987 in England and Javed (Viveik Kalra) doesn’t really know where he belongs. He feels stifled in his family, especially by his father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir), but also doesn’t feel like he has that much in common anymore with his childhood friend Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman), although he still writes lyrics for Matt’s band. When Javed starts a new school, he finds new friends though – activist-hearted Eliza (Nell Williams) and Roops (Aaron Phagura), the only other British-Asian kid in school. Roops introduces Javed to Bruce Springsteen – an eye-opening experience for Javed that changes everything for him.

Blinded by the Light is a really nice film that manages to combine a light-hearted coming-of-age story with serious issues like classism and racism without short-selling either. Sometimes it’s a little too conventional, but I enjoyed it.

The film poster showing Javed (Viveik Kalra) mid-jump in front of a orange-and-white striped background, reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA album cover.
Continue reading

Tolkien (2019)

Tolkien
Director: Dome Karukoski
Writer: David Gleeson, Stephen Beresford
Cast: Nicholas Hoult, Lily Collins, Patrick Gibson, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney, Craig Roberts, Harry Gilby, Albie Marber, Ty Tennant, Adam Bregman, Mimi Keene, Colm Meaney, Laura Donnelly, Derek Jacobi
Seen on: 15.7.2019

Plot:
John R. R. Tolkien (Harry Gilby) grows up poor and his mother (Laura Donnelly) dies early, so he and his brother get placed into foster care by Father Francis (Colm Meaney). They end up with a rich older woman who also fosters Edith (Mimi Keene) and John and Edith become good friends. The foster place also gives John the chance to attend a prestigious school where he shows great promise and becomes fast friends with Robert (Albie Marber), Christopher (Ty Tennant) and Geoffrey (Adam Bregman). Even after they grow up and attend different universities, John (Nicholas Hoult) remains friends with them (Patrick Gibson, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynn-Carney). But World War I changes their plans.

Tolkien suffers from a very, very bad script that gives us no real insight into who Tolkien may have been, or even tells its story in a competent manner.

The film poster showing J. R. R. Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult). Superimposed over his chest are two warriors fighting on horseback.
Continue reading

Rocketman (2019)

Rocketman
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Tom Bennett, Matthew Illesley, Kit Connor, Tate Donovan, Ophelia Lovibond, Harriet Walter, Stephen Graham
Seen on: 11.6.2019

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia

Plot:
Elton John (Taron Egerton) has reached a low point. Now he is in a rehab facility, trying to get better. Part of that is trying to piece together how he got to where he is now. So he reflects on his childhood as Reggie with his parents (Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven Mackintosh) and his grandmother (Gemma Jones), how he discovered music for himself and with his cooperation with Bernie (Jamie Bell), and how he meets producer John (Richard Madden). Especially his complicated relationship with John that makes Elton come to grips with his homosexuality, but also causes him a lot of pain.

Rocketman is not the best film you will ever see, but it is a really good one, with a great lead and awesome music.

The film poster showing Elton John (Taron Egerton) in a feather costume and huge glasses on stage in a stadium, playing the piano in full rock mode.
Continue reading

At Eternity’s Gate (2018)

At Eternity’s Gate
Director: Julian Schnabel
Writer: Jean-Claude Carrière, Julian Schnabel, Louise Kugelberg
Cast: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Niels Arestrup, Anne Consigny, Amira Casar
Seen on: 21.5.2019

Plot:
Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) spends most of his time in Arles, painting in a rather fragile state of mind. His brother Theo (Rupert Friend) is his one great supporter. When news reaches Theo that Vincent isn’t doing so well, he convinces Vincent’s friend Paul Gauguin (Oscar Issac) to travel to Arles. But what ails Vincent is not so simply dealt with.

At Eternity’s Gate is one hell of a boring film with irritating cinematography. Despite the amazing cast, I just couldn’t get into it at all.

The film poster showing Vincent van Gogh (Willem Dafoe) with a bandaged ear in front of a yellow wall.
Continue reading