Emo. A genre so mercilessly derided, so strongly associated with maudlin teenagers, black mascara and self-harm in the early-to-mid 2000s that even today, after the genre has been effectively dead for five years, I find myself compelled to defend its honour.
In many ways it’s surprising that an Alan Partridge movie has found its way into Australian cinemas at all. Despite the character’s enduring popularity in his home country of England, Partridge has been inexplicably unavailable in the colonies until very recently, and even the local posters for Alpha Papa pose the question, “the world is wondering… who is Alan Partridge?”
Many have named Manhattan Woody Allen’s greatest film; some, the greatest film of all time. Allen himself was reportedly so disappointed with it that he attempted to convince United Artists to never allow it to see the light of day. The truth, as is often the case, can be found somewhere between these extremes.
There’s a famous scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector where our hero, searching for the mob boss who stole his elephant (don’t ask) has to fight his way from the lobby of a hotel to its top floor dispatching waves upon waves of bad guys along the way. It’s brilliant as one five-minute single-take action sequence, but can it sustain an entire movie?
An inadvertently vicious indictment of teenage empowerment, 17 Girls (17 filles) half-heartedly tries to portray its central characters – a group of high school girls who enter a so-called “pregnancy pact” – as budding feminist heroes, but undermines them with an endless stream of clichés, generalisations and one-dimensionality.
Set in Algeria in the 1920s – a time when the country was still under French rule and its citizens were a diverse mix of Jews, Muslims and Christians (both Arab and non-Arab) – the Rabbi in question (voiced by Maurice Bénichou) is a respected elder in his sleepy coastal town. Other than a daughter who’s growing up too fast (Hafsia Herzi) and a mild rivalry with a fellow Jewish elder, he has few worries in life and spends his days lazily lounging in cafés watching the world go by. But once his cat (François Morel) suddenly finds a voice, he’s loath to shut up – challenging the Rabbi’s religious and philosophical views and generally upturning the lives of the Rabbi and his daughter.
By 1966, Woody Allen was already something of a star.
After a decade as a wildly successful comedy writer and performer, Allen had an Emmy nomination to his name as well as a best-selling stand-up comedy record and a reputation as one of the most influential members of New York’s burgeoning comedy club scene.
From the comfort of a house in a suburb of a major city in a Western nation, Iran can feel like a world away. Correspondents and embedded journalists and bureau chiefs and talking heads come to you in-studio and live via satellite to educate you about a country that, to them, is a character in an international political stage show. They inform you that Iran is a set of problems to be solved; an oppressive quagmire of religious fanaticism and anti-Western sentiment; a colossal desert, strategically important but otherwise uninteresting.