Middle Eastern Magic

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Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 1:43 am

Nice! We'll have to wait for Offside till early next year. Anyway, looking forward to your review.
arsaib4
 


Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby trevor826 » Sat Oct 07, 2006 7:52 am

My review of Offside

Cheers Trev
trevor826
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby madhuban » Mon Dec 18, 2006 12:53 pm

Moved to the classic board, Madhuban's view of Sohrab Shahid Saless's
Still Life.
madhuban
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:49 pm

The Mirror (1998) - Jafar Panahi

There are a few times when a film fits perfectly into a movement or genre. The Iranian New Wave has become something of both. Not just a time in Iranian cinema, but also a distinct film style, blending fiction with documentary, professional with amateur, and stories so powerfully simple that its almost deceptive. Panahi's The Mirror fits this mold as exquisitely as few films have. Panahi's previous ventures were written by Abbas Kiarostami, and here Panahi borrows a page directly from the master's much revered Close-Up. It is remarkable that in the midst of this film even the audio plays tricks and cuts out, reminiscent of the bike ride at the conclusion of Kiarostami's film.

The twist in this film comes about half way through, and I must say for one that it was a welcome one. Watching the film I was having a moderate time keeping interested. Mina Mohammed-Khani's voice is dreadfully shrill and high pitched to a point of nearly instant irritation. Watching her plight of trying to get home in the beginning was growing thin. Simple plots can be evocative but occasionally you need more to stimulate something. You have a general interest in this girl getting home, but it isn't until the film changes course that you really get involved.

Half way through you here the phrase "Don't look at the camera" following a bout of silence from Mina who refuses to answer the bus driver. An almost instant smile of gratification comes on, because you know that this film has just broken the fourth wall. What makes the film ironic is how the second half directly parallels the first, but is given a completely different spin. It is shot at a distance, the shots are longer, and occasionally obstructed by passing cars that happen to stop briefly in direct line of the camera. Mina disappears sometimes behind trees, or crowds and it takes a minute or two for the film to find her again. It loses the professional gloss of the first half, but make no mistake about it, it is just as carefully rehearsed, and in many ways more so. Watching some of the scenes I surprisingly enough am recalling some of Michael Snow's work, or the very least Akerman's unobtrusive kino-eye.

For a sense of closure of course Mina has to make it home, but that is so dreadfully unimportant. Just like one hardly remembers the delivery of the notebook in Where is the Friend's Home? The film parallels itself in more ways than one. Notably the soccer score at the beginning and end of the film, as one score is made at the beginning and the final is revealed at the end of the film, roughly 90 minutes later, or the appropriate time of a match. Just as before the sound eventually cuts out and once Mina is home it becomes a silent picture, with the same static camera shot. I've rarely seen such deliberate exploitation of cinematic equipment in a film, and the intention is clear to make us aware that a film is being shot. I have no direct knowledge of how much of the film has been improvised but it certainly feels like all of it is winged. First rate work from a film that got off to a bumpy and predictable start.

Grade A
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby madhuban » Tue Dec 19, 2006 5:57 am

Great review wpqx! I've seen 5 films by Panahi till date - The White Balloon, Crimson Gold, The Circle, The Mirror and Offside - and The Mirror remains my firm favourite

M
madhuban
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Tue Dec 19, 2006 6:06 am

I wasn't particularly wild about The Circle so this has certainly elevated my opinion.
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Dec 20, 2006 7:14 am

The Mirror premiered at the 1997 Montreal film festival.
arsaib4
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Mon Dec 25, 2006 7:05 am

The White Balloon (1995) - Jafar Panahi

Well I'll be honest as this film began I was a little bothered by it. I found the plot or what appeared to be a sad excuse for a plot pointless and disappointing. I thought "Kiarostami is better than this". However the films plods along at a good enough pace so that when the only thing standing in the way of getting the money back is how to pull it out, I started to care. So much of the film is frustrating, and you just want to smack some people in the face. The people in the film are both good and bad, but ultimately redemptive. I find it rewarding that the film is at its core humanistic. Even the loud, shouting would-be thieves all seem to be able to look in their heart for this little girl who's retarded beyond all human comprehension. Compared to the gloriously intricate Mirror, this film is a hug let down, and pardon the pun but my expectations were rapidly "deflated". Overall this is the type of hit or miss Iranian film that if you find yourself not caring you can easily disregard the whole picture.

Grade C -
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Dec 27, 2006 8:05 am

Interesting. What was so "retarded" about our young protagonist?
arsaib4
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Wed Dec 27, 2006 3:15 pm

Maybe its a cultural difference, but I couldn't help but shout at her, "stop crying", "what the hell are you doing at the snake charmer", "ask for your money back". It was frustrating watching her in action.
wpqx
 

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