Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Persepolis" concludes New York Film Festival

You are in for a treat when the film Persepolis opens in the United States at the end of December. I was fortunate to see it last weekend since the film was the closing night selection of the New York Film Festival. It is an animated, black-and-white film based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel about the Iranian revolution and the Iran-Iraq war that followed. The novel and the film follows Marjane's journey from childhood to a picaresque adolescence spent in Europe, away from her family. The film is a very powerful rumination on war, revolution, and the lasting effects that world events have on the lives of children.

When Hollywood decides to adapt a graphic novel, the results are often terrible. 300 is a perfect example of a graphic novel adaptation gone awry. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, arguably Alan Moore's best work, turned out to be an embarrassing mess when Hollywood attempted to bring it to the screen. But when Vincent Paronnaud and Ms. Satrapi joined forces to adapt her novel, their decision to make it an animated film made all the difference. The whimsy of the art work in the original novel is preserved in this medium. It might have totally disappeared had these characters been played by live humans. Breathing life into the people that populate the story, Catherine Deneuve is memorable in the role of the mother, and Chiara Mastroianni is excellent as the voice of Marjane.

An excellent film, and a very strong selection to conclude this year's New York Film Festival. Persepolis is destined for many future awards, and it has reserved for itself a place of honor in the short list of great animated films.

Monday, October 01, 2007

"El Orfanato" at the New York Film Festival

One of the best experiences that a film lover can have at the New York Film Festival is discovering a new talent, a new voice in cinema. It certainly happened a few years ago when New York got to see Amores Perros, the film that put Alejandro González-Iñárritiu (Babel) on the map. Last Saturday at midnight it happened again when the Festival ran the film El Orfanato (The Orphanage) a new film from Spain marking the debut of director Juan Antonio Bayona and screenwriter Sergio Sánchez. The film is a truly terrifying ghost story filled with images that you will not soon forget. Below is the trailer (in Spanish) for this film.

The movie is scheduled to open in Spain in October, and in New York in late December. I can promise you that you're in for a treat.