Thursday, April 2, 2009

What's On starting April 2

Car crashes replace Oscar films!

Chiang Mai movies beginning Thursday, April 2

by Thomas Ohlson

Best Bets: [none].

Oscar season is over at Major Cineplex! On to car crashes and katoeys. I hope you enjoyed while you could Revolutionary Road, The Reader, The Wrestler, and Milk. Many thanks to Major Cineplex for bringing these films to Chiang Mai.

Here are my comments on the movies playing in Chiang Mai at Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza and at Vista at Kadsuankaew for the week beginning Thursday, April 2, 2009. There is also information on film programs at the Alliance Française and CMU’s Film Space for the next three weeks.

This is Issue Number 23 of Volume 4 of these listings – in our fourth year!

Now playing in Chiang Mai * = new this week

* Fast & Furious 4: US, Action – 107 mins – Vin Diesel and Paul Walker re-team for the ultimate chapter of this film franchise built on speed and cars, which started in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious, which became an unexpected hit. Although this is the fourth of the series, time-wise it fits in between the second and the third films, and is thus not a sequel and not a prequel but (and this is a new word for you, thought up by some ad agency somewhere) an interquel. It’s almost entirely about car races and car crashes. Look, there are some who like that! Early reviews are generally negative: 30/40 out of 100.

Hollywood & Fine: Acting isn't really the point of Fast & Furious. Indeed, this cast can barely act interested.

Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert: I admire the craft involved, but the movie leaves me profoundly indifferent. After three earlier movies in the series, which have been transmuted into video games, why do we need a fourth one? Oh. I just answered my own question.

* The Shinjuku Incident / Xin Su shi jian: China, Action/ Drama – 120 mins – Featuring Jackie Chan in a dramatic rather than a fighting mode. This troubled project has been in the planning stages for almost 10 years according to director Derek Yee. And now it seems the film will not be exhibited in mainland China at all, due to censorship concerns over the portrayal of Chinese living abroad, which will really hurt the financial prospects for this film, China being Chan’s biggest market. But it seems it will be shown in Japan, despite an overwhelmingly negative portrayal of the Japanese. Shown here in a Thai-dubbed version only, without English subtitles.

* Sassy Players / Taew Nak Te Teen Rabert / แต๋วเตะตีนระเบิด: Thai, Comedy/ Drama – 90 mins – A gay teen soccer comedy in the vein of “Satree Lek" (Iron Ladies), the internationally popular comedy about a gay and transgender men's volleyball team. There’s a little bit of everything in the film – something for everyone. It’s fun, if your proclivities lie in this direction. Directed by Poj Arnon (Bangkok Love Story).

A girl's school decides it wants to field a team to contest national secondary school football championships, and calls for applications from young men. It ends up with 16 applicants, seven of whom are katoey - or as they tell their coach, not 'real' men at all. Can football players of the third gender prove their mettle on the pitch? See the movie to find out . . .

Knowing: Australia/ US, Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller – 130 mins – Delightful! And a lot of fun. Particularly if you like Nicolas Cage. A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions – some that have already occurred and others that are about to – that lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold. Starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Alex Proyas (I, Robot). Mixed or average reviews: 41/42 out of 100.

Roger Ebert: Knowing is among the best science-fiction films I've seen – frightening, suspenseful, and intelligent and, when it needs to be, rather awesome. The plot involves the most fundamental of all philosophical debates: Is the universe deterministic or random? Is everything in some way preordained or does it happen by chance? If that questions sounds too abstract, wait until you see this film, which poses it in stark terms: What if we could know in advance when the Earth will end?

Los Angeles Times, Betsy Sharkey: Whatever else Proyas has done in Knowing, he has created an ending that is sure to divide audiences into camps of love it or hate it, deeming its message either hopeful or hopelessly heavy-handed. For me, it doesn't quite work; still I'm glad he took the risk.

San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub: If you see only one bad movie this year, definitely make it Knowing. The first major disappointment from director Alex Proyas is a disaster movie, a horror picture, a "Da Vinci Code"-style thriller and an end-of-days religious film all at once.

Khan Kluay 2 / ก้านกล้วย 2: Thai, Animation/ Adventure – 90 mins – Khan Kluay, the legendary elephant, is back in action in this sequel to the animated movie Khan Kluay. Set after the victory at Ayuthaya against the invasion of the powerful Burmese Empire, when Khan Kluay is appointed King Naresuan's royal elephant.

Scheduled for Chiang Mai cineplexes on Thursday, April 9

Race to Witch Mountain: US, Adventure/ Fantasy/ Sci-Fi/ Thriller – 98 mins – A perfectly acceptable action/ adventure film for children (mostly) with all the standard chills and thrills. Well done of its type, and the ex-Rock Dwayne Johnson is (mostly) charming as a Las Vegas cabbie who enlists the help of a UFO expert to protect two children with paranormal powers from the clutches of an organization that wants to use the kids for their nefarious plans.

Roger Ebert: Innocuous family entertainment.

Variety: Strikes a deft balance of chase-movie suspense and wisecracking humor, with a few slam-bang action setpieces that would shame the makers of more allegedly grown-up genre fare.

Monsters vs Aliens: US, Animated/ Action – An animated feature that has gotten what has to be called rave reviews from some reviewers.

The Charlotte Observer, Lawrence Toppman: The movie may best be appreciated by people who know the references. All five monsters come from low-budget science fiction films of the 1950s. The towering Ginormica (Reese Witherspoon) was inspired by “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.” The missing link, silent in “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” has Will Arnett's voice here. Roaring, wordless Insectosaurus is a “Godzilla” slug magnified by radiation, while Bob the Blob (Seth Rogen) comes from – well, “The Blob.” Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie) has a counterpart in “The Fly,” where another scientist acquires the characteristics of an insect after a failed experiment.

Rahtree Reborn / บุปผาราตรี 3.1: Thai, Horror/ Romance – 90 mins – Starring Love of Siam heartthrob Mario Maurer, in a new career move, and Cherman Boonyasak, who played his putative sister in that film. It’s a sequel to Yuthalert Sipapak’s famous horror films Bup Pha Rahtree and Rahtree Returns, set in the same apartment where the haunting story has been told before. Surrounded by the tranquility of this apartment, a horrible spirit in room 609 is lurking, soon to be awakened. This time the terrors are tripled. Directed again by Yuthlert Sippapak. Note the barber chair. Shades of Sweeney Todd, again!

Alliance Française schedule

At Alliance Française on Fridays at 8 pm

At Alliance Française on Friday, April 3: L'Atalante / Le Chaland qui passe (1934) by Jean Vigo – 88 mins – France, Drama/ Romance. Black and white. No English subtitles. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 87 out of 100.

With Michel Simon, Dita Parlo, Jean Dasté.

When Juliette marries Jean, she comes to live on his ship, on board of which are, besides the two of them, only a cabin boy and the strange old second mate Père Jules. Soon bored by life on the river, she slips off to see the nightlife when they come to Paris. Angered by this, Jean sets off, leaving Juliette behind. Overcome by grief and longing for his wife, Jean falls into a depression and Père Jules goes and tries to find Juliette…

Alliance description

Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: Considered by critics to be one of the 20th century's best films, L'Atalante is the final work of French director Jean Vigo's (Zero for Conduct) tragically brief, but brilliant career. After their wedding, Juliette (Dita Parlo) and Jean (Jean Dasté) set out on L'Atalante, the river barge that Jean captains. In a scene representative of the film's lovely, poetic cinematography, Juliette, both desiring and fearing her new life, wistfully walks atop the length of the barge, wedding dress fluttering in the wind. The couple soon settles into wedded bliss, with the companionship of quirky, tattooed bargeman Père Jules. He provides many of the film's unexpected comedic moments (watch for the plethora of cats, and the cigarette smoking belly button). Trouble arises, however, as Jean continually foils Juliette's attempts to learn more of life by listening to the radio and exploring the barge's ports. When a charming traveling salesman/entertainer (Gilles Margaritis) entices Juliette with stories of the charm of Paris, she decides to venture out on her own. The question of whether Jean and Julliette's love will win out over their conflicting ideas, along with the naturalistic, dreamlike visual world that Vigo creates, will keep viewers enraptured to the end.

Passing note: The film's much-lauded cinematography was by Boris Kaufman, the brother of Soviet film maker Dziga Vertov. He would later go on to shoot Hollywood films such as On the Waterfront (1954).

Wikipedia: The film has been praised for its prescient poetic realist style, but it also includes surprising surrealist passages, such as the double exposure Michel Simon wrestling match and a scene in which Jean jumps into the river. Upon its release, the French art historian Élie Faure found the film "classical, almost violent and always tormented, fevered, overflowing with ideas and with fantasy; truculent; a virulent and even demonical romanticism that still remains humanistic".

The film became a favorite of the filmmakers of the French New Wave, whose films contain many allusions to Vigo's work. The French director Francois Truffaut fell in love with it when he saw it at age 14 in 1946: "When I entered the theater, I didn't even know who Jean Vigo was. I was immediately overwhelmed with wild enthusiasm for his work".

L'Atalante was chosen as the 10th-greatest film of all time in British journal Sight & Sound's 1962 poll, and as the 6th-best in its 1992 poll.

"These landscapes of water, trees, little houses on peaceful banks, and boats slowly threading their way ahead of a silver wake: the same impeccable composition, the same power invisibly present because so much a master of itself, the same balance of all the elements of a visual drama in the tender embrace of complete acceptance, the same pearly, golden veil translucently masking the sharpness of composition and the firmness of line. And perhaps it was this simplicity of composition, entirely devoid of flourishes or decorations - classical, in a word - that made me appreciate all the more the pleasure of savoring the very spirit of Vigo's work, almost violent, certainly tormented, feverish, brimming with ideas and truculent fantasy, with virulent, even demonic, and yet constantly human romanticism." (Élie Faure, author of Histoire de l'art.)

Senses of Cinema, Maximilian Le Cain: Of all cinema's illustrious martyr figures, none is more romantic than Jean Vigo, poet maudit of '30s French cinema, dead at 29 after a long struggle with tuberculosis, leaving a filmography that can be screened in just over three hours and which, during his lifetime, showed every sign of vanishing into oblivion. But the ethereal beauty and earthy anarchism that permeate his two masterpieces Zero de conduite (1933) and L'Atalante (1934) are still enveloping audiences in their hypnotic atmosphere today and leaving them sure in the knowledge that Vigo was more than a filmmaker - he was a moment in film history that will never be repeated. [For the remainder of this excellent study, click link.]

About the Director, Jean Vigo:

As the son of notorious French anarchist Eugene Bonaventure de Vigo (aka Miguel Almereyda), young Jean Vigo and his family were obliged to stay on the move, usually under assumed names. After his father was found dead in his prison cell in 1917 [“His father was strangled in his cell in Fresnes Prison on the night of 13 August 1917 — allegedly the authorities were responsible.” – Wikipedia], Vigo attended boarding school under the name Jean Sales. A tuberculosis victim, Vigo moved to Nice to recuperate in 1929. While on the mend, he directed his first film, the surrealist A propos de Nice (1930). His next project was the 11-minute Taris, a documentary about France's reigning swimming champion. Zero de conduite (1932), Vigo's third film (at 45 minutes, it was not quite a short but not exactly a feature), combined the absurd qualities of his first picture with the straight-on realities of the second. The naturalistic central setting of a dismal, restrictive boys' school is undercut with the absurdity of a pint-sized instructor, a World War I-style pillow fight, and a wish-fulfillment climactic scene in which the schoolboys pelt their adult tormentors with fruit (echoes of this film persisted in the later works of Jean-Luc Godard, Lindsay Anderson, and Francois Truffaut). Zero de conduite was perceived by the French authorities as an unpatriotic attack on the Establishment, and as such was banned until 1945. Vigo's fourth film, L'Atalante (1935), is regarded as his masterpiece. The film superbly blends realism (an unhappily married couple chugging up and down the Seine in a barge) with poetic flights of surrealism. Sadly, L'Atalante, like Zero de conduite, fell victim to the censors; its producers savagely cut the picture into incomprehensibility, arguing (as before) that its attack on the bourgeoisie was "anti-France." Penniless, Jean Vigo died of leukemia at the age of 29. His legacy has been kept alive by his filmmaking disciples, by the annual Jean Vigo Prize, and by the restored version of his chef-d'ouevre, L'Atalante.

At the time of his death, he was working on 26 film projects. For a list of them, click here.

At Alliance Française on Friday, April 10: L'Ami de mon amie / My Girlfriend's Boyfriend / Boyfriends and Girlfriends (1987) by Eric Rohmer – 102 mins – France, Comedy. English subtitles. Generally favorable reviews: 78 out of 100.

With Emmanuelle Chaulet, Sophie Renoir, Anne-Laure Meury, Eric Viellard.

Blanche has recently moved to Cergy-Pontoise, to work at the town hall. During a lunch break she meets the vivacious and immediately likeable Léa. Although not fond of sports, Léa agrees to go swimming with Blanche, at the local pool. There they meet Alexandre, one of Lea's acquaintances, along with Adrienne, his current girlfriend. Blanche finds herself under the spell of the young engineer. The holidays arrive. Léa leaves while Blanche stays on. By chance, Blanche bumps into Alexandre in the street. She clumsily tries to make a pass at him. Soon she's also bumping into Fabien, Léa's boyfriend...

Alliance description

Roger Ebert: Rohmer knows exactly what he is doing here. He has no great purpose, but an interesting small one: He wants to observe the everyday behavior of a new class of French person, the young professionals whose values are mostly materialistic, whose ideas have been shaped by popular culture, who do not read much, or think much about politics, or have much depth.

Reelviews, James Berardinelli: The characters in Boyfriends and Girlfriends are all self-centered and shallow. They rarely speak or think about anything deeper than their feelings, and never seek anything more substantial than transitory satisfaction. They are four young yuppies - twenty-somethings who have embraced the age of materialism and self-gratification that characterized the '80s. They live in a new, sleek Parisian suburb that has none of the old world charm of the ancient city. It's modern and sterile, and the closest it gets to Paris is a distant view of the Eiffel Tower peeking up over the horizon.

In the hands of another director, Boyfriends and Girlfriends might have turned into a biting satire, but Rohmer is a sympathetic filmmaker. He never condemns his characters - he merely presents them as they are and lets the viewer decide whether or not they are deserving of affection. In this case, he shows that, despite their superficialities, they are flesh-and-blood individuals, not comic contrivances or caricatures. The little touches that make them come alive also make them compelling individuals. Ultimately, this film isn't really about much, but we are drawn into it because of the way in which the artist sketches his subject. Many important aspects of their portraits are left out, but the intriguing details incorporated are what make them fascinating.

At Alliance Française on Friday, April 17: 7 ans / 7 Years (2006) by Jean-Pascal Hattu – 82 mins – France, Drama. English subtitles. Mixed or average reviews.

With Valérie Donzelli, Pablo De la Torre, Cyril Troley, Bruno Todeschini, Nadia Kaci.

Maïté faithfully visits her sexy, intense husband Vincent, when she's spotted by a pale, pointy-faced man who says he's there to visit his brother Jean. Having been advised by her nurse friend Djamila to take a lover, she consents to mechanical sex with Jean in a car. The relationship continues and intensifies. It's not till some time later that Maïté learns Jean is a guard at the prison...

Alliance description

Film Lounge, Neil Young: A decidedly unusual (yes, perhaps even bizarre) love-triangle develops between a prison-inmate serving some way into a seven-year sentence (Bruno Todeschini as Vincent), his guard (Cyril Troley as Jean) and his wife (Valérie Donzelli as Maïté) in this reasonably well-observed, strongly-acted, character-based drama . . . 7 Ans is undeniably well done, in a low-key, uninflected style (significant looks prove more eloquent than dialogue).

Film Space schedule

At Film Space on Saturdays at 7 pm

April is “The Month of Animation” at Film Space.

Film Space is to the right and in the back of the CMU Art Museum, in the Media Arts and Design building across from the ballet school. Showings are in a classroom on the second floor or on the roof, weather permitting. For the roof, you might want to bring something to sit on or lie on. A contribution is requested in the donation box at the entrance – you should leave 20 baht. Well worth supporting.

At Film Space Saturday, April 4: Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea / Gake no ue no Ponyo / 崖の上のポニョ(2008) by Hayao Miyazaki – 100 mins – Japan, Animation/ Adventure/ Family.

An animated adventure centered on the 5-year-old boy Sōsuke and his relationship with Ponyo, a baby goldfish/ mermaid princess who longs to become human.

Japan Times, Mark Schilling: Hayao Miyazaki is the reigning giant of Japanese animation — and the Japanese box office. Since "Majo no Takkyubin (Kiki's Delivery Service)" in 1989, every Miyazaki film has been a smash hit, drawing the widest possible audience. In 2001, his coming-of-age fantasy "Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)" set an all-time Japanese box-office record.

But this, and other Miyazaki megahits, including "Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)" (1997) and "Howl no Ugoku Shiro (Howl's Moving Castle)" (2004) are anything but lowest-common-denominator entertainment. Even though his heroines (rarely heroes) are usually in their early teens or younger, their adventures unfold in rich visual and narrative matrices, with everything from personal memories and contemporary environmental concerns to ancient Japanese mythologies and fantastic European cityscapes tossed into the mix, in combinations that would only occur to Miyazaki's well-stocked, endlessly inventive mind. One reason his films keep the turnstiles spinning is that they repay — even require — repeated viewings.

But Miyazaki's most beloved film in Japan — "Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)" (1988) — is also among his easiest to understand. Even tots can thrill to the film's epic ride on the Cat Bus — one of the coolest forms of transportation ever invented, as long as you're not allergic to felines.

His latest feature animation, "Gake no Ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea)," exceeds even "Totoro" in simplicity, with a core target audience about as old as its hero — 5. This is not to say that those who have mastered hiragana (or the alphabet) will be bored, as long as they leave their expectations for the usual Miyazaki film at the door.

Miyazaki has made what is for any adult — but especially a 67-year-old anime veteran — an extraordinary leap: In "Ponyo" he is not just telling a story to tikes, but imaginatively becoming one himself. I was reminded of the famous opening of James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," with its recital of the hero's earliest memories in the language of infancy ("Once upon a time there was a moocow coming down along the road and . . ."), as if the author were re-inhabiting an earlier self.

At the same time, Miyazaki revisits themes from other, more adult-focused films, such as humanity's destruction of the natural world, and nature's revenge on its human tormentors. Also, the animation is Miyazaki's familiar mix of the realistic and fantastic, with extinct sea creatures swimming contentedly alongside their contemporary — and accurately rendered — descendants. In other words, there is still plenty to engage the mind and eye, as well as keep the small army of Miyazaki explicators busy.

The title character, Ponyo, is a girl fish with a human face who decides one day to leave her underwater home — and her school of smaller sisters — to see what lies on the surface. Riding on the back of a jellyfish, she is nearly trapped by a drift net, but escapes — with her head stuck in a glass jar. Sōsuke, a boy who lives on a house on a seaside cliff, spots Ponyo in the shallows and rescues her. He is delighted with his new pet — and Ponyo is delighted to be in the human world at last. She says her first words, to Sosuke's astonishment — and begins a transformation from half-fish to human.

Meanwhile, her human father, Fujimoto, who lives in an undersea manse with Ponyo's sea-queen mother, starts to search for her. With his long hair, beaky nose and tormented, bags-under-the-eyes expression, Fujimoto looks like a decayed aristocrat from a shojo manga (girls' comic), but he possesses magical powers over the waves, which become like living creatures under his command. What can a mere kid, if one with a feisty mom he calls Lisa and a good-natured, if mostly absent, ship-captain dad, do to stop him?

"Ponyo" is not about a simplistic struggle between good and evil, however. Fujimoto is more of a worried father than a scarily powerful villain. Also, with the aid of her sisters, Ponyo unleashes powers of her own, with awesome, if unintended, consequences.

The film meanders into various byways, such as the day-care center for the elderly that Lisa runs, with a female clientele that runs the gamut from the cute to the cranky — and serves as a Greek chorus to the action.

The focus, though, stays mostly on Sōsuke and Ponyo, whose relationship undergoes a change from master/pet to protective older brother/bubbly, if trouble-prone, younger sister. There is something dreamlike about their adventures in both the thrilling wish-fulfillment of them and their spooky shape-shifting. Small children, who naturally live on the borderline between reality and fantasy, will have no trouble following along.

As with most Miyazaki films, I walked out of "Ponyo" thinking less about the rambling story, based loosely on "The Little Mermaid," than certain strangely gripping scenes, such as a grimly determined Lisa zipping along a seaside road in her mini car, with Sōsuke at her side, as angry anthromorphic waves crash and lash around them, or Sōsuke and Ponyo puttering idyllically over a submerged town in a toy boat powered by a burning candle, which has magically grown big enough to hold them.

No one but Miyazaki could have created anything like these moments, with anything like his mastery. If "Ponyo" is the start of his artistic second childhood, I say welcome to the sandbox.

Twitch, Ard Vijn: Once again, Hayao Miyazaki shows his uncanny talent of realistically portraying the behavior and mannerisms of young children. Both Sōsuke and Ponyo (when in human form) are instantly recognizable to anyone who knows any children of that age. The leaps of faith, of logic, the innocence but also the ruthlessness… it’s all there on display, and it seems true. The children make this movie a delight to watch.

A Nutshell Review, Stefan S: Hayao Miyazaki's magic continues with this absolute crowd pleaser Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, his latest animated film, which turns on the usual sweetness to charm your socks off.

For fans of Studio Ghibli films, you'll probably know what you're in for, as Miyazaki has yet another winner in his filmography.

Ponyo is a magic goldfish that yearns to know what is life beyond the sea, with her constant forays in a bubble to the surface of the water to sneak a peek. Nonetheless these ambitions do not bode well with her humanoid dad Fujimoto who harbors some hatred toward the human race for pollution, and briefly touching a subplot on environmental protection / revenge by Mother Nature as well. An accident one day sees Ponyo being washed ashore, and picked up by five year old boy Sōsuke who lives on a house on the said cliff with his mother Lisa while dad Koichi is mostly out to sea since he's a sailor. And you can expect some moments of throwback to the likes of The Little Mermaid, or Splash made for kids. Saying anything more would be to spoil the fun.

The artwork here is still simply astounding even though it's in 2D glory, knowing that each cell is painstakingly worked on. There are so many things going on at the same time within the same frame, that you'll probably be game for repeated viewings just to spot them all. This definitely beats any 3D or CG animated production any day given its beauty coming from its simplicity, and not only from the artwork department, but on its story too, despite complaints coming in that it took a leaf from the Hans Christian Andersen classic. While there are avenues to make this film extremely dark, it only suggested certain dark themes, but opted instead for a film with more positive emotions, suitable for both kids and adults alike.

At its core, it’s about love, that between the family members of Koichi, Lisa and Sōsuke, and especially between mother and son. More so, it's about the love between the boy and his new pet fish which he christened Ponyo, and I tell you Ponyo herself has enough cuteness in her to beat the likes of Bolt, WallE and Eve all hands down. Characterization here is top notch, and it's hard not to fall in love with Ponyo, in whichever form adopted, especially when she's such a playful being who doesn't hide her emotions - if she's upset with you, either she turns away or you could expect a jet stream come spewing from her mouth into your face!

Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea is a definite shoo-in to my top films of this year without hesitation. And the next time I go to Tokyo, I'm sure as hell going to make my way to the Ghibli Museum to bask under the magical world brought to us by Hayao Miyazaki. Highly recommended film, so don't you go missing this on the big screen!

At Film Space Saturday, April 11: Cat Soup / Nekojiru-so / ねこぢる草 (2003) by Tatsuo Sato – 34 mins – Japan, Animation/ Short/ Comedy/ Fantasy.

When Death steals half of the soul of the little kitten Nyaako, leaving her brain-dead, her brother Nyatta takes her on a bizarre journey to get it back. In the surreal dreamscape of the Other Side, they encounter many fantastic characters and remarkable, often violent and disturbing, adventures. Chemically enhanced individuals should especially enjoy this.

Beyond A word of caution: Cat Soup is not for children. While the two main cat characters are cute and cuddly, there are some bloody and very mature moments. At one point, a woman gets cut into pieces by a giant spinning blade. In general, limbs are being lopped off on a daily basis throughout the short. The dismemberings are not too graphic as to be disgusting, but they can be a bit disturbing for younger viewers. The cats may look darn cute, but the short is not for minors.

Here is a sample of the plot:

They find a circus in the woods where God is the magician ringleader. God slices a woman into pieces which fly about then recombine, and God creates objects from his breath. The crowd applauds but Nyatta's sister doesn't react. A huge bird who has swallowed the sky is unveiled and tormented until it bursts into a storm flood which destroys the cats' town. Following a clockwork metal butterfly, Nyatta finds them a boat to survive, with a subservient pig that they carve alive for food.

At Film Space Saturday, April 18: Persepolis (2007) written and directed by Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi – 96 mins – France/ US, Animation/ Biography/ Drama/ War. Reviews: Universal acclaim: 90/82 out of 100.

France's official submission for the Best Foreign-Language Film category at the 2008 Academy Awards.

Iran's government sent a letter to the French embassy in Tehran to protest against the movie and pressured the organizers of the 2007 Bangkok Film Festival to drop it from the lineup.

Rotten Tomatoes synopsis: Persepolis is an emotionally powerful, dramatically enthralling autobiographical gem, and the film's simple black-and-white images are effective and bold.

Variety: Any stragglers still unconvinced that animation can be an exciting medium for both adults and kids will run out of arguments in the face of "Persepolis." Like the four-volume series of graphic novels on which it's based, this autobiographical tour de force is completely accessible and art of a very high order. First-person tale of congenitally rebellious Marjane Satrapi, who was 8 years old when the Islamic Revolution transformed her native Teheran, boasts a bold lyricism spanning great joy and immense sorrow. In both concept and execution, hand-drawn toon is a winner.