This year’s Mystery Movie surprise screening at Cinecenta was Persepolis! I’d never been before, but the idea is that they screen something anticipated that hasn’t been released over here yet. Our only guess was that it might be that crazy Bob Dylan movie with multiple people trading the lead role… and then as soon as we had any kind of guess, I was worried that when we were wrong it would be disappointing. Surprises are fragile.
Seeing the film come up in black and white animation was so optimal that it felt sort of charming. This was the only upcoming movie I’ve been looking forward to, and almost the only one I even knew anything about. It’s hard to be more fun than anticipation, but I don’t think that accomplishment was the charming part. A guy from the Cinecenta staff had come out and introduced the screening beforehand, so already it was feeling like a human social event rather than a commercial transaction, and then it turned out to be a movie made by people I could picture in my head from watching the little making of feature on the movie website. Lots of people involved, rather than only vague forces of fame and culture and money. I think that was what felt so warm and fuzzy. (Maybe especially after considering a movie about Bob Dylan as a sort of opaque, unknowable icon?)
I don’t understand why more cinemas don’t put an effort into spectacles and gimmicks like this on a regular basis. Surprise movies (old or new) are going on my local cinema wishlist, along with having a human introduce each screening, offering table seating, downloadable mp3 commentary tracks, loveseat-style seating in more places than just the back row of The Roxy, and beer in non-plastic containers.
I’m not much for movie reviews, but I suppose I should mention that I liked Persepolis. Funny parts, sad parts, angry parts, cute parts, and a lot of characters processing ethics out loud, and integrating external wars and politics with internal, personal feelings. The animation was very beautiful. (And boy do I like the various
Arabic nose shapes that Satrapi draws.) I think you could check out the books and the movie in any order without wrecking anything.
This whole episode has been a curious test of my 7-day posting lag. When I realized which film was showing, I felt like I’d been hoarding information because none of my companions could read the future archives of my blog, where I’d stashed links and details about the movie. That’s exactly counter to my anti-exclusive motives for posting to the future. And then I felt disappointed that I wanted to write a follow-up post when the first thing I wrote about Persepolis might be due to publish less than a week in the future— my follow-up was at risk of being weirdly late. It turned out to be pretty well-timed after all, but it is hilarious the way media influences real life reactions. This is more disconcerting than the “I wish I’d brought my camera / Kodak moment” feeling.