19 February 2008

Cartoons! Persepolis and Oscar-Nominated Short Films

Last Thursday we had hoped to see a special screening of The Princess Bride but it sold out. So we turned to Persepolis. It is amazing. It's funny, whimsical, and tender, yet tells a very serious story. It's the autobiography of a young woman growing up in Tehran in the 1980s and 90s, during the Revolution. She struggles with her veil and her manners. She covets Western punk and pop music. Girls in their teens are being arrested and imprisoned (and often executed) for wearing lipstick and nail polish and letting too much hair show from the veil. Eventually Marjane's parents decide to send her to boarding school in Europe because she is too free-spirited to live safely in Tehran. She struggles in Vienna as well, unable to fit in anywhere. She returns to Tehran, where the political situation isn't any better than before, but at least she has her friends and family surrounding her.

I was almost finished with Reading Lolita in Tehran when I saw Persepolis and what strikes me is that these are not unique, isolated stories of a handful of women. This is the way of life for thousands of women. Women who want to go to university and read any books that they want. Women who don't want to be molested or raped and then be arrested because they broke the law by tempting men. Women who want the choice of wearing the veil as an expression of their religious beliefs.

We saw it at the Cinema Arts Centre Theatre in Fairfax. (It's a decent little arthouse theater. Good hot chocolate!) It's still playing there and at a handful of other theaters in the metro area.

On Sunday after witnessing the robot uprising we went to the Landmark E Street Cinema to see the five animated shorts that are nominated for the Academy Award. (They also have screenings of the live action short films.) One of the stories, "My Love," a Russian film, left us wanting to tear our eyes out. The animation was cool at first, in the style of a Monet painting, but was headache inducing by the end. And the story was so sappy and sentimental. I also think it was the longest of the five. Maybe it just felt like the longest. "Madame Tutli-Putli," "Even Pigeons Go to Heaven," and "Peter and the Wolf" had fantastic animation. "Madam" and "Pigeons" had bizarre stories though. And now that I think about it, the ending of "Peter" was a little lame. But I still really liked all three of them. The last one, "I Met the Walrus," had simple pen and ink-type doodles, but it was an awesome concept. Many moons ago, 1969 I believe, a 14-year old met John Lennon and recorded their discussion. The film is this conversation animated. When you stop and listen to John Lennon in context, he sounds perfectly reasonable and rational in his message of peace. I really can't decide which of these I'd pick for the Oscar winner. For message, "I Met the Walrus." For animation maybe "Madame Tutli-Putli." However they made the eyes for those puppets was completely creepy.

The Landmark E Street Cinema is about three blocks from the Metro Center stop.


Anonymous said...

OMG-"Reading Lolita" was such a snoozefest! I'm surprised you never picked up the graphic novel "Persepolis".

Stephanie said...

I thought "Reading Lolita" was kind of boring, too. But as a former English major who had read most of the novels I felt the need to finish it. My husband had read the graphic novels but I never go into them.


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