Persepolis - I'd been wanting to see Persepolis for a long time, but didn't know much about the original graphic novels, except that they were autobiographical and about an outspoken young girl, coming of age in Revolutionary/Post Revolutionary Iran. Based on that description alone, I wasn't sure how much I'd like or relate to the material, but the story is so well told and beautifully illustrated, that it makes an emotional impact. Given that I had a fairly high fever when I watched it, a film with subtitles may not have been the best idea... I'd imagine that I didn't grasp all the elements of the story as well as I could have, but what I did take away was the reality of what growing up in that kind of war zone might be like. But instead of feeling like the material was pounded into me or over dramatized, like you might with a live-action bio-pic, or disinterested because there was no one story tying it all together, like you might with a documentary, I felt connected. The fantasy realm of animation allowed the story to go into realms of imagination that it could not have done in any other format. This one will definitely require a second 'feverless' viewing.
Man on Wire - This can't be real, was my first thought when I heard the story of Philippe Petit and his high wire walk between the top of the World Trade Center Twin Towers. I mean, he'd have to be tied to something, right? So he wouldn't die?? But apparently not. In fact, Petit has stated that he has no respect for tightrope walkers who use safety wires or nets, and that the possibility of death is what excites him most. Of course Petit is also certifiably out of his mind... but I wish I could more like him (or have at least one tenth his passion). This Oscar nominated documentary chronicles Petit's "coup" and the incredible reality of a feat that surely only comes once in a lifetime. "It's impossible, that's sure. So let's start working," says Petit in the film. Just seeing the energy and insanity in his eyes as he describes being cosmically pulled to the towers, is enough to make you feel like you've done absolutely nothing with your life. This amazingly beautiful film had me glued to the screen and simultaneously jumping out of my bed. Despite never once mentioning the tragedy of September 11th, it's impossible not think about it as you watch (especially when they show footage of the tower's construction). This is a must-see, and hopefully it will soon be an Oscar winner!
Center Stage 2: Turn It Up - I'll admit it, I love the first Center Stage. Crucify me if you want for bad taste, but it is full of ridiculously fun moments like, "you break it, you bought it!" and "who let that disaster in here?" So when I heard there was a sequel, of course I had to check it out. I kept my expectations low, but secretly hoped it might be as much of a lovable cheesefest as the first one. Sadly, Center Stage 2 is more like Step Up 2, equally bad and with more urban hip hop dance sequences than ballet. This time the story revolves around self-taught dancer, Kate, who leaves behind her drunken dad and little sister to go audition for the American Ballet Academy. But as a twist (or so the writers think), she doesn't get in. I don't think I should really go into a lot more detail, but needless to say, there's a guy, and he's a dancer too. In spite of the fact that the movie is indisputably bad, it still grew on me, and by the end, it was guilty fun. Final consensus is: nowhere near as fun as the first, but still fun enough in it's own Step Up kinda way.
21 - Now on my second viewing, and I still really like this movie. Sure, it's lacking in many ways; There's pretty much no chemistry between the leads, it's a very surface storyline about a boy who gets caught up in "the dark side" of gambling, and it's so predictable that it hurts. BUT, I like it anyway. First off, Jim Sturgess is adorable, and this is far more watchable than his previous film, Across the Universe. Second, who doesn't love a good teenage gambling movie? And third, I'll watch anything with Kevin Spacey, even if it's bad (which it rarely is). Overall, it's just a very watchable movie, so I recommend that you do.
Get Real - I have to attribute seeing this 1998 film entirely to the incomparable Theo, without whom I would never have known, nor fallen in love with Steven Carter (Ben Silverstone), aka the most amazing being to ever fictionally walk the planet. Steven, an out of place, but brilliant prep schooler, knows he's gay, but no one else does (except for his best friend Linda). He meets class jock and heartthrob John Dixon, and their awkward fumbling affair begins (for anyone who's watched Hollyoak's John Paul and Craig at my urging, I'm sure this storyline sounds familiar). The plot is frequently re-used, but somehow it never gets old. What makes Get Real stand out from other films of it's genre though, is the otherworldly charisma, charm and lovability of Steven. He's an incredibly well written character, and acted perfectly. I can't recommend seeing this flic enough, though sadly it's no longer available to buy on dvd (or at least not easily). But luckily, netflix comes to the rescue once again. So please see Get Real, and get smitten by Steven.
Annie Hall - I was trying to think out what I could say about Annie Hall that hasn't been said already... but the answer is nothing. It's Woody Allen's opus, it's a prototype for an entire genre of films and characters, it changed a generation... all of this I'm sure you already know. I loved the movie too, like everyone else. But, having seen it, after first seeing so many films that it inspired, it's hard to keep in mind that it is the leader of the pack. Without remembering that, it's at risk of feeling hackneyed, which is most certainly was and is not. Allen created the anti-heroe's hero, and that character is still going strong today (Superbad anyone?) Allen too, is still able to amaze and endear audiences with recent successes like Match Point, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona (which is next on my netflix queue!).