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Augustus Gloop stomps on DAI-NIPPONJIN, marvels over SON OF RAMBOW and ponders PERSEPOLIS!!!

Hey folks, Harry here - Pretty much agree with Augustus Gloop here - except on DAI NIPPONJIN which radiates genius from orifi I didn't know existed! It's super-mega-uber-genius! And I feel sad that Augustus Gloop was a Sleepy Baddie, but he was nodding in the lobby before the film, so it shouldn't surprise me that he was Sleepy Baddie in the movie. If I may, I recommend the Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans. Taste good lickin' and keep you tickin'!!!!

Alrighty! Halfway through this beast, and I've finally had a chance to get some rest, restore some perspective, and freshen up for the next four days. Sunday brought two secret screenings and "Son of Rambow". -------------------------------------------------- Persepolis (Secret Screening, 4 stars) -------------------------------------------------- Matt Dentler of SXSW introduced this animated feature that I believe has only been seen at Cannes, as the best thing we'll see in the entire festival. He was right and also wrong in a way. Persepolis was a beautiful, timely film with a very important message. Unfortunately, I felt the message is not playing to the crowd that most needs to hear it. The audience at Fantastic Fest is a very diverse and open-minded group, in addition to being very well-educated. I was disappointed for friends who spent four hours waiting in line, hoping for a giant Hollywood blockbuster, but I hope they still managed to take something away with them. Persepolis is an autobiographical piece about a young woman (Marjane 'Marji' Satrapi) growing up in Iran during and after the revolution and the rise of the Ayatollahs. The early history and rise of the Shahs is related to her in narrative by her uncle as a bedtime story. He, himself, is a revolutionary, opposed to the dictatorship of the Shah and the British interference by which he acquired power. The events of the revolution are explained from a child's perspective as her parents try to help hide others and get them out of the country. Once the Shah has been exiled, the extremist religious element begins to take over, and freedoms, particularly those of women, are eroded. In the now strict Muslim school, Marji repeatedly rebels until her parents feel the only way to keep her safe is to send her abroad to study and live in Vienna. Too rebellious to live in Iran, Marji now faces the prejudices of the Christian world and the reputation of Iranians as barbaric. She is unable to control her outspoken nature and finds herself unable to remain in any place for long. Moving from foster home to convent to friend's house to friend of friend's house, she grows up. Eventually, she finds the love of her life, but the romance is brief. Devastated to find her love in bed with another, she turns to life on the street and is near death before she is found and hospitalized. She returns home to find that Iran is as much changed as she. Now women must cover themselves, brutal police roam the streets arresting people for the slightest infraction of religious law. Schoolteachers spout propaganda, and western culture is censored. Caught outside with makeup on her face, Marji is faced with arrest. The only thing she can think to do is turn the attention of the police away from her by accusing a nearby man of making inappropriate remarks. He is arrested and dragged away. Eventually, Marji falls in love again and marries, as there seems little else she can do. Unfortunately, in only a year or two, she finds she no longer loves her husband. Deciding to leave and start life anew in France, she hopes to enjoy freedom that can't be found in Iran. At the airport, she says goodbye to her family and particularly her grandmother, who we are told will die shortly after. This was a poignant film and a bleak picture of reality in a world controlled by angry extremists. Persepolis faithfully explores the feelings of constriction in a land dominated by extremists and then alienation in a different culture where people are unable to see through differences to the person within. As our country's relations with Iran continue to be extremely strained, this could be an important film to put a face on 'the enemy' and highlight the human aspect. Contrary to popular misconceptions, Iran was a very modernized country before the revolution. The people there were and are not all Uzi-toting terrorists. More people need to see that we are all alike as humans, no matter the differences inherent in our cultures or artificial restrictions placed on us by our governments. People acting in groups may bring about a situation in which no one is happy. I think this is a story that needs to be told, but for the purposes of shouting the message, I feel this was the wrong element. The animation is unremarkable, and the story itself while poignant, is not compelling enough to stand on its own. The people who most need to see this (Chief among them at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.) will surely never see it. -------------------------------------------------- Son of Rambow (5 stars) -------------------------------------------------- Son of Rambow is a charming story about two misfit boys who meet at school and set out to create their own version of Rambo. Will is a child of a young widow member of a religious order that eschews technology and modern culture. Lee also has a single mother, but she spends all her time out of the country with a boyfriend, leaving him to be raised by his older brother. As they proceed to film their story, they must deal with Will's church, the schoolteachers, and other kids who don't like Lee. Their friendship grows, but is strained when Will befriends a foreign exchange student and his gang who want to help make the movie. Soon, the situation erupts into a fight that ends in near disaster, but which fortunately brings them all closer at the end. Son of Rambow includes images evocative of many classic children's films including Stand By Me, ET, Hook, and the Raiders adaptation. This is a great family film, though probably not as appealing to girls as to ten year-old boys. -------------------------------------------------- Dai-Nipponjin (One REALLY REALLY BIG Star) -------------------------------------------------- Damn you Tim for showing this at midnight! Subtitled Japanese with almost no music after midnight make sleepy-baddie go to sleep. This is the characteristic of sleepy-baddie. Several people were snoring in the audience. Like gremlins and food, this show does not go down well after midnight. However, it was a fucking wild ride of brobdignagian proportion. Presented documentary-style, most of the film covers an strange, quiet hermit with eccentric habits like carrying an umbrella with him everywhere he goes. Extended rambling conversations with him and occasional cuts to the people who know him begin to reveal the truth about him; He likes the umbrella, because it expands to something much bigger when it is needed. He likes his dehydrated seaweed, because it expands to something much bigger, when it is needed. Rocks thrown by vandals crash through the window, and he doesn't react, in any way. He has never travelled, and will NEVER leave the country, because he might be called upon to work. Eventually, we find out what that work is, as he receives the call and travels to a military installation, where jumper cables are hooked to his nipples, and electricity makes him grow into Dai Nipponjin, the Godzilla-sized sumo who fights Pokemon-like monsters that spawn from power plants. These fights make the movie, and the only word for them is bizarre... enormously bizarre. We're talking a crazy head on a giant leg that leaps around knocking over buildings, a rubber-band monster that rips up buildings and lays eggs in their foundations, a torso with a gigantic eye on a rubber neck for a head, that it slings around as a weapon. Daisatou must deal with all these as well as his senile grandfather who likes to get juiced up for old times' sake and play the pipes on industrial smokestacks. Boring as the documentary portions may be, they are subtle and funny, and the fights are a grand spectacle. The only problem for me was the 'live-action' ending, which I felt ruined the movie, as some kind of Team America family showed up to interrupt the final battle, and the fantastic CG effects were replaced with people in hokey suits stomping around on little models. After beating up the boss monster, they lock arms with the now pathetic-looking Daisatou and fly him off to the top of Mt Fuji or something. I was loving everything else, but I can't get over the ending. As the credits rolled, we see them all with Daisatou eating at their superhero hideout, but I don't know what was happening; I couldn't read the dialogue as I was fleeing for the exit. Other, better film fans than me will probably eat this up, but my recommendation is to watch this, but leave before the end and be happy. Augustus Gloop
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