Friday, June 06, 2008

An animated weekend, starring a panda and - even better - "Persepolis"

There's a lot to talk about for this upcoming movie weekend, but first and foremost I'm very happy to report there has indeed been a sighting of Thora Birch.

Sadly, my mind - while working hard to avoid work - has wandered more than a few times to the subject of what in the world had happened to the star of "Ghost World," who had seemed to just disappear. Well, now she's back, though probably not in anything I'll bother to see.

She's set to star with Brittany Murphy in a psychological thriller called "Deadline" in which the star, Murphy, is a writer who travels to an abandoned house to write a screenplay, where a bout of writer's block and other unforeseen events lead her to a psychological breakdown. Sounds pretty meh to me, but welcome back Thora all the same.

But now, on to the movie weekend. For me, it will mean two animated flicks, "Kung Fu Panda" and, even better if you're anywhere near Macon, "Persepolis" presented Sunday by the Macon Film Guild at the Douglass Theatre.

As for "Panda," it's just a lock for me. All the reviews I've seen so far say it just looks amazing, and even if the story is more than a little predictable, it's more than funny enough to sustain its 90 minutes or so, which is just about all I can ask for from a summer animated flick. And, though I can see how he's worn out his welcome with some folks, I still have a lot of time for Jack Black. And, even better, Ian McShane of "Deadwood" fame voices the villain, Tai Lung, never a bad thing in my book.

I do, however, have one request. I don't know how in the world it took animators so long to settle on pandas as just about the coolest creatures in the universe, but please, please, please don't let them become the new penguins. The world will be just fine without a movie about surfing pandas.

That's up for me Saturday morning, and then on Sunday - and apparently sort of at my request - comes "Persepolis," easily one of my favorite flicks of 2007. When I humbly reminded Macon Film Guild guru Camp Bacon that I had suggested they screen this flick a while back, he acknowledged they did indeed check it out on my advice.

I sure hope everyone likes it now, but I really don't see how they couldn't. Marjane Satrapi's flick, based on her series of graphic novels about growing up in Iran and Europe, is nearly flawless. The story finally starts to grow a little tiresome only in the closing minutes, but before you get there Satrapi and co-director Vince Paronnaud wrest an amazing amount of lasting images out of only black and white as they craft this engaging tale.

In fact, despite its low-tech approach, "Persepolis" comes even closer to creating the feeling of watching a graphic novel unfold on screen than either "Sin City" or "300" did, though I'm not knocking those flicks either. Round it all off with great voice work from actresses Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux and Chiara Mastroianni, as our young heroine Marjane, and you've got a flick well worth giving a couple of hours to Sunday at 2, 4:30 or 7:30 p.m. at downtown Macon's Douglass Theatre. Huzzah to the guild for bring this great flick to Macon (and for listening to my advice!)

So, what's missing from this list? "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," of course, though I've seen more than a few reviews that say it's not all that awful. With the names of Judd Apatow and, even better, "TV Funhouse" creator Robert Smigel on the script, I suppose there's a chance those critics are right, but I just can't bring myself to watch yet another Adam Sandler flick that would easily reach its breaking point if it were only the length of a "Saturday Night Live" skit. Here's hoping the panda kicks his ass.

And, as a final weekend treat, here's the teaser poster for Oliver Stone's "W," which frankly is more than little disappointing. Granted, our president is certainly less than a brilliant wordsmith, but isn't that just too easy of a target? Anyways, enjoy, and have a perfectly pleasant weekend (and if you live anywhere near Macon, again please go see "Persepolis" this Sunday!) Peace out.


kat said...

"The Internets." The second best invented word being "truthiness" of the last decade.

Bob said...

I like the "interweb" personally.

That's so cool that a theater is playing a movie because you told them it was good. I wish I had that kind of pull.
I FINALLY saw "The Visitor" last night and it was very good. Up for the weekend I might do "Kung Fu Panda." "The Foot Fist Way" came out on one screen in Seattle so I'll probably try to get down there for that and the festival is showing "Choke" on Sunday. Sam Rockwell somehow seems just right for a Chuck Palahniuk character to me. Go Sam!

Bob said...

Oh, I almost forgot! You're not the only one who'd been wondering what the heck happened to Thora Birch. Hopefully she'll be in something that actually sounds good before too long but at least she's back at all.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm very jealous, Bob ... I drove to Atlanta just to see "The Fall" last week, but there's no way I can afford to do that again, no matter how good the movies are .. The only other time the film guild showed a movie on my suggestion it was Pedro Almodovar's "Talk to Her," which, if I remember correctly, had a man walking out of a giant vagina, among other Almodovar oddities ... I'm sure "Persepolis" won't be nearly as shocking!

jeremy said...

Oooh! Fight! Fight!

And speaking of fights, I just watched the Oscar nominated documentary "Street Fight" and can easily recommend it.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'll definitely check it out, Jeremy .. I'll certainly check it out.

Terence Towles Canote said...

I went to see Kung Fu Panda last night and it turned out to be a whole lot of fun. Pretty familiar story, but it has some great voice work and some great action sequences. And a lot of great injokes for anyone who has watched too much Kung Fu Theatre...

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm with you on all of that, Mercurie ... Jack Black and Ian McShane, in particular, were fantastic, and it was a whole lot funnier than I could have possibly expected

Chalupa said...

I've always kind of wondered what happened to Thora Birch as well. She was amazing in American Beauty and Ghost World. I saw Dungeons and Dragons and wasn't too impressed. I also rented The Smokers and wasn't too hip on that one either. I guess I assumed she was busy at college or something. I just checked IMDB though and she has done some stuff, just nothing big or blockbuster-ish.

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