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.
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Das Vorspiel [The Audition] (2019)

Das Vorspiel
Director: Ina Weisse
Writer: Daphne Charizani, Ina Weisse
Cast: Nina Hoss, Simon Abkarian, Jens Albinus, Ilja Monti, Serafin Mishiev, Sophie Rois
Seen on: 24.7.2020

Plot:
Anna (Nina Hoss) is a violin teacher. At the auditions for the music school she works at, she sees – and hears – Alexander (Ilja Monti). She thinks he shows great promise, while her colleague (Sophie Rois) is less convinced. Now Anna has half a year to push Alexander to make his talent obvious to everyone. At the same time, her own son Jonas (Serafin Mishiev) shows less and less interest in his own violin practice and her husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian) struggles with Anna’s increasing distance.

Das Vorspiel is the perfect stage for Nina Hoss to deliver a stunning performance, but storywise it is a little unsatisfying.

The film poster showing Anna (Nina Hoss) hugging her husband Philippe (Simon Abkarian) from behind at the top and below it, Anna playing the violin.
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The Cut (2014)

The Cut
Director: Fatih Akin
Writer: Fatih Akin, Mardik Martin
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Simon Abkarian, Makram Khoury, Hindi Zahra, Kevork Malikyan, Bartu Küçükçaglayan, Trine Dyrholm, Moritz Bleibtreu (in a mini-cameo)
Seen on: 15.01.2015

Plot:
Nazaret (Tahar Rahim) is an Armenian in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. That is not the best place to be an Armenian and as the political situation results in the Armenian Genocide, Nazaret is separated from his family and forced into slavery in the desert, building roads. Against all odds, he survives the ordeal, though he does lose the ability to speak due to getting stabbed in the throat. When the situation allows it, he sets off to find his family again, a search that leads him across the world.

The Armenian Genocide is certainly something that we know very little about in Europe and so films like The Cut are important to give an introduction to the subject. But unfortunately, other than that it didn’t work for me at all.

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Re-Watch: Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Judi Dench, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Isaach de Bankolé, Jesper Christensen

Plot:
James Bond (Daniel Craig) is a special agent who just recently graduated to 00-status. And in his first mission, he has to take on Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), banker to the upper leagues of terrorism. Le Chiffre is about to play a high-stakes game of poker; and if Bond can beat him and take his money, they will have him cornered. So Bond’s boss M (Judi Dench) sends him and accountant Vesper (Eva Green) to Montenegro to win at poker.

Casino Royale is an extremely satisfying action movie that also holds up to second viewing. Daniel Craig is a cool bond and the whole thing is very entertaining.

[SPOILERS]

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