Middle Eastern Magic

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Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:24 am

I thought she was resourceful enough to nearly have half of the block considering her dilemma. She didn't just run back to mommy for more tomans. Heck, I'd also be scared if a snake charmer was performing nearby.
arsaib4
 


Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Thu Dec 28, 2006 9:11 am

I still stand by my comment, and I personally wouldn't be anywhere near a snake charmer.
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby trevor826 » Thu Dec 28, 2006 7:45 pm

Well if nothing else wpqx, you've made me dig out my old video of The White Balloon, I can't see myself agreeing with your comments though.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:33 am

BEAUTIFUL CITY (Iran / 2004)



Iranian cinema has been criticized recently for its lack of ambition. And justifiably so because in many cases the filmmakers have not only retreaded familiar themes and subjects, but theyve approached them in a mode which lacks imagination. Films confined to discussing problems faced by either women, children or refugees are plentiful, and if a detached, ambiguous tone doesnt mire them, then its the heavy-handedness which does. So in that sense, Beautiful City (Shahr-e Ziba) feels like a breath of fresh air. While it confronts serious and pertinent issues surrounding Irans ancient and intricate capital punishment laws, it does so in a grounded, clear-eyed manner. Directed by Asghar Farhadi, a rising talent among the new generation of Iranian filmmakers, the film primarily revolves around the efforts of two individuals as they attempt to save the life of loved one. Only briefly seen at the beginning, Akbar (Hossein Farzi-Zadeh) was imprisoned in a youth facility as a 16-year-old after he committed a crime of passion. Two years later, hes transferred to an adult prison where he awaits his death sentence to be carried out. But the process cant be completed until the victims distressed father (Faramarz Gharibian) can raise the compensatory "blood money" which according to Islamic law places the value of a woman to be only half that of a man, thus requiring him to pay the difference. Determined to save his life, Akbars best friend, A'la (Babak Ansari), a petty thief, and his beautiful, headstrong older sister, Firoozeh (Taraneh Alidoosti), join forces to beg the father for forgiveness on Akbars behalf. This complex predicament is handled with utmost compassion and sincerity by Farhadi. He allows the natural flow of events to account for his characters rationale, while they continually negotiate with their own lives as well. Credibly weaved into the narrative, moments of tenderness and humor surface
through the burgeoning affection between A'la and Firoozeh, which ultimately puts the onus on them and brings the film to quite a head. Beautiful City is one of the most compelling Iranian films of this decade.

______________________

*BEAUTIFUL CITY has played at numerous film festivals, including Fajr, Rotterdam, Warsaw and Montreal. It is not available on DVD at this point.

*Asghar Farhadi's latest film, Fireworks Wednesday, won the Golden Hugo at the 2006 Chicago Film Festival.
arsaib4
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby madhuban » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:43 am

Nice review, arsaib. It makes me regret my dumb decision to watch Makhmalbaf's Scream of the Green Ants instead of Farhadi's Fireworks Wednesday. And to rub salt to injury, Fireworks Wednesday earned Farhadi a best director award at the festival! The lesson to learn from this experience is never to choose the umpteenth film from an ageing director going aesthetically and ideologically downhill (and has been seen to be treading uncertain ground in recent film ventures) over a highly recommended film from a talented, upcoming one.

M
madhuban
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 05, 2007 9:00 pm

I probably would have gone for Makhmalbaf too, so don't worry you're not alone. I look forward to digging into more Iranian films, but lately there is just no end to the films I want to see. I just wish I could avoid eating, sleeping, school, and work for a month and do nothing but watch movies, just to catch up.
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Jan 06, 2007 1:43 am

Thanks, Madhuban.

I've also been forced to make similar decisions at various fests and retros. While it's always tempting to check out the work of an up-and-comer, it's also mighty difficult to pass up the opportunity to witness a proven auteur's latest endeavor. On top of that, other calculations have to be made regarding distribution, schedule, etc.

I'm in the same boat as you, wpqx, even though I've watched more films lately. I don't recall the last time I covered two films in one week. I guess short reviews is the way to go in some cases.
arsaib4
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Fri Jan 12, 2007 8:45 pm

The Color of Paradise (1999) - Majid Majidi

Well situated between two masterpieces of Iranian cinema, Majidi's Color or Paradise is, as the title would suggest one of the series of lush lyrical Iranian films that were become fashionable in the late nineties. Like Makhmalbaf's The Silence, this film's protaganist is also a blind boy, and this is compensated with a sumptuous visual pallate. The story itself concerns a recently widowed father who has to look out for his blind son during the summer break from school. For a culture generally frowning upon deformity and handicapped people, he resents his son, and realizes that he will most likely have to spend the rest of his life taking care of him. The rest of his family, his normal daughters and the boy's grandmother are all delighted that the boy is there for the summer. Big surprise, the boy too is thrilled to be with his families company. The drama sets up later some primitive conflict, but the overall message is that a son is a son, and this boy is special and certainly brighter than the somewhat tone deaf instrument tuner of Makhmalbaf's film. I felt a believable characterization of sorts here, with behavior easily relatable, which contrasts it with quite a few other Iranian directors films with children.
wpqx
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Jan 13, 2007 8:06 am

Easily relatable? I thought you wanted to decapitate the young girl from The White Balloon because she wasn't sharp enough.
arsaib4
 

Re: Middle Eastern Magic

Postby wpqx » Sat Jan 13, 2007 10:13 am

I didn't find the same problem here. This blind kid was articulate, much more so than the one in Makhmalbaf's film.
wpqx
 

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