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The Official Iran Challenge - May 2019

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maxwelldeux
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Re: The Official Iran Challenge - May 2019

#41

Post by maxwelldeux » May 8th, 2019, 4:06 am

Story time:

Parents visiting, blah blah blah, they asked what the challenges were this month. I told them, and when I mentioned this, got to have this conversation:

Dad: "Wait - Iran makes movies?"
Me: "Yup."
Dad: "Or is this movies about Iran?"
Me: "No, just films from Iran."
Dad: "Are there a lot of them? Or just a few?"
Me: "I mean, it's an industry. They have movies and top lists and everything."
Dad: "Huh..."

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#42

Post by sebby » May 8th, 2019, 7:50 am

Farhadi's movies are always the ones to recommend to those who have no grasp of iranian film. Easy watches, gripping, well shot, well acted.

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#43

Post by OldAle1 » May 8th, 2019, 3:35 pm

Walnuts, Roses and PoetryShow

Day 1 - Genre films 1965/7

1. Shabe ghuzi / Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965)
2. Ganje qarun / Croesus' Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965)
3. Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham / The Female Vampire (Mostafa Oskooyi, 1967)

Day 2 - Iranian noir, 1961

4. Faryade nimeshab / The Midnight Terror (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Day 3 - Going West; Going to Tehran 1968/70

5. Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio! / Mardaneh bekosh / Stranger Say Your Prayers / etc, etc (Demofilo Fidani, 1968)
6. Aghaye Halou / Mr. Naive (Dariush Mehrjui, 1970)

Day 4 - Kimiai and Naderi in the early 70s

7. Reza motori / Reza, the Motorcylist (Masud Kiimiai, 1970)
8. Dash akol (Masud Kimiai, 1971)
9. Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Day 5 - Farmanara's historical fiction

10. Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Day 6 - three auteurs in the 70s

11. Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)
12. Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)
13. Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)
Day 7 - Aslani and Mehrjui, mid-70s

14. Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)

A fascinating film that might have seemed even more fascinating and perhaps greater had I been able to see a better copy (this one was watchable but certainly a bit fuzzy, with decent subs) and had I not seen several films over the past week involving the dissolute downfalls of wealthy families. In this instance, a young woman is (seemingly) heir to a fortune and a large house, but is confined to a wheelchair and has to watch helplessly as her stepfather runs roughshod over her heritage and perhaps plans to do away with her - unless she can do something about it first, with the help of her brother and a young servant (Shohreh Aghdashloo in her film debut). The film has multiple themes and parts that interact in interesting ways - there's the class disparity involving the young woman, who wants to marry into wealth but is considered beneath the family - and we cut periodically to scenes of other servants, completely unrelated to the main action, washing clothes in the courtyard and commenting on the immoral or criminal behaviors of their lords and ladies; there''s a Poe-esque horror-ghost story element; and there's a general (fairly typical in Iranian cinema of this period) commentary on the typical greed and corruption of people in general, as characters promise to help each other time and again and renege to get their own hands on the fortune. Not surprisingly things don't end well. Despite the fairly typical narrative elements and a certain dullness at times this ended up fairly worthwhile for a number of cinematic reasons - a quite impressive modernist, dissonant score by Sheyda Gharachedaghi, one of the very few female composers in this cinema at the time, and some pretty terrific camerawork including a great 3-minute gliding track following a murder near the finish. And a last shot that offers a very different perspective on things, and somewhat changes the meaning of the whole piece.

15. Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)

Continuing another trend for me - the successful DTC-nominated Iranian films this year that are far, far less impressive than my own nominatinions :verymad: Oh well, it's not as if I found this outright bad, just perhaps, like the film above, it's a little too reminiscent of too much else I've seen of late, and for me not nearly as impressive or original as the director's previous three films. Here Mehrjui gives us an old man - his regular star Ezzatolah Entezami - and his son Saeed Kangarani (very impressive in a rather nuanced asshole role) desperate for money, who end up going to what seems to be a black market blood donation operation. The old man is too sick to give blood, and the young man takes him to a hospital and tries to get treatment for him while both more or less live just outside by the gates, and the son increasingly gets involved in various scams and cons to make more money, while the father.... well, you can probably see where this is going, as I did, and that was my main problem, it all seemed too obvious and predictable. Perhaps I was focusing too much on the narrative, and those who loved this found something else there to hold onto that I missed? In any case from my perspective this was just OK, but as I generally have really liked or loved Mehrjui I imagine I'll return to it one day. One interesting bit of trivia - both lead actors, though separated by 30 years, died within a few weeks of each other last fall.

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#44

Post by OldAle1 » May 8th, 2019, 4:09 pm

WEEK 1 STATUS REPORT

Participants

So far just 12 folks with 42 total points for 43 total films (2 shorts). OldAle1 (15), jeroeno (9) and Knaldskalle (5) are the only folks with more than 2 points out of the gate.

Directors/Films

Dariush Mehrjui's work has been viewed 4 times; Asghar Farhadi, Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi have each hit 3 viewings.

The only film that's been watched twice is Shabhaye roshan / White Nights (Farzad Motamen, 2003).

Decades

The 1970s and 2000s top our viewings so far with 11 and 9; the 1950s have 1 and all the other decades starting with the 1960s, 5 or 6.
Last edited by OldAle1 on May 9th, 2019, 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#45

Post by 3eyes » May 8th, 2019, 4:45 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:06 am
Story time:

Parents visiting, blah blah blah, they asked what the challenges were this month. I told them, and when I mentioned this, got to have this conversation:

Dad: "Wait - Iran makes movies?"
Me: "Yup."
Dad: "Or is this movies about Iran?"
Me: "No, just films from Iran."
Dad: "Are there a lot of them? Or just a few?"
Me: "I mean, it's an industry. They have movies and top lists and everything."
Dad: "Huh..."
:lol:

I hit a computer glitch yesterday or would have posted another. Haven't hit my stride yet.
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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#46

Post by OldAle1 » May 8th, 2019, 4:56 pm

maxwelldeux wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:06 am
Story time:

Parents visiting, blah blah blah, they asked what the challenges were this month. I told them, and when I mentioned this, got to have this conversation:

Dad: "Wait - Iran makes movies?"
Me: "Yup."
Dad: "Or is this movies about Iran?"
Me: "No, just films from Iran."
Dad: "Are there a lot of them? Or just a few?"
Me: "I mean, it's an industry. They have movies and top lists and everything."
Dad: "Huh..."
Could've been worse, he could have just said "you call those Isis beheading videos MOVIES, you sick America-hating fuck?" - which is more or less what at least one IMDb user said to me once several years ago. And my dad made the same exact comment (not about beheading videos :lol: ) as yours, 20-odd years ago. I swear to Allah though there are probably millions of people in this country who believe we invented movies and are the only country that makes them.

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#47

Post by maxwelldeux » May 8th, 2019, 5:36 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:56 pm
maxwelldeux wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:06 am
Story time:

Parents visiting, blah blah blah, they asked what the challenges were this month. I told them, and when I mentioned this, got to have this conversation:

Dad: "Wait - Iran makes movies?"
Me: "Yup."
Dad: "Or is this movies about Iran?"
Me: "No, just films from Iran."
Dad: "Are there a lot of them? Or just a few?"
Me: "I mean, it's an industry. They have movies and top lists and everything."
Dad: "Huh..."
Could've been worse, he could have just said "you call those Isis beheading videos MOVIES, you sick America-hating fuck?" - which is more or less what at least one IMDb user said to me once several years ago. And my dad made the same exact comment (not about beheading videos :lol: ) as yours, 20-odd years ago. I swear to Allah though there are probably millions of people in this country who believe we invented movies and are the only country that makes them.
Yeah - no malice or xenophobia or anything, just reflective of the "American bubble" we live in - France, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong/China make films, and anything else is a one-off novelty. But yeah - I remember thinking similar things when I first found ICM, like "Wait - Iran has produced enough films to have an entire top list?!?" :circle:

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#48

Post by 3eyes » May 8th, 2019, 6:40 pm

It does seem to me that there are fewer Iranian films streaming much of anywhere than there were a year ago. Cowardice or censorship?

When the ipad blocked imvbox last night I thought uh-oh, but it turned out I could fix it by clearing the Safari cookies (not too swift with either ipad or Safari).
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#49

Post by Knaldskalle » May 9th, 2019, 2:22 pm

6. Jafar Panahi's Taxi (Panahi, 2015). Any pretenses that this is a documentary goes out the window fairly early with the number of improbable events that happen one right after another. That doesn't make it bad, though, just more of a "mockumentary" than an actual documentary film. It still, though, retains some 'bite' with some exposing of Iran's film rules and, near the end, his defense lawyer making the case that the authorities manage to make Iran into a large prison with its pervasive and intrusive surveillance. This is all well done, and no doubt accurate, but I can't shake my wanting Panahi to "move on" and perhaps make a movie that's not about how difficult it is to make movies in Iran when you're not allowed to. He has made his point and made it well. Thank you, Mr. Panahi, now can we talk about something else?

Iran alsoShow
1. Offside (Panahi, 2006)
2. This is Not a Film (Panahi, 2011)
3. Where Is My Friend's Home? (Kiarostami, 1987)
4. Homework (Kiarostami, 1989)
5. About Elly (Farhadi, 2009)
6. Jafar Panahi's Taxi (Panahi, 2015)
Personal film goals for 2019.
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#50

Post by OldAle1 » May 9th, 2019, 2:52 pm

Eh, I dunno, I think Panahi's last three films have been different enough stylistically, and have explored quite a range of ideas within this fairly narrow subject, so it doesn't much bother me. And it's not like things have changed much for the better there in the past decade, and who is in a better position to speak out against repression than artists?

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#51

Post by flavo5000 » May 9th, 2019, 2:57 pm

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3. Zendegi va digar hich (1992)
SpoilerShow
1. Mahi va gorbeh (2013)
2. ZAR (2017)
3. Zendegi va digar hich (1992)
SpoilerShow

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#52

Post by OldAle1 » May 9th, 2019, 3:48 pm

Walnuts, Roses and PoetryShow

Day 1 - Genre films 1965/7

1. Shabe ghuzi / Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965)
2. Ganje qarun / Croesus' Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965)
3. Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham / The Female Vampire (Mostafa Oskooyi, 1967)

Day 2 - Iranian noir, 1961

4. Faryade nimeshab / The Midnight Terror (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Day 3 - Going West; Going to Tehran 1968/70

5. Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio! / Mardaneh bekosh / Stranger Say Your Prayers / etc, etc (Demofilo Fidani, 1968)
6. Aghaye Halou / Mr. Naive (Dariush Mehrjui, 1970)

Day 4 - Kimiai and Naderi in the early 70s

7. Reza motori / Reza, the Motorcylist (Masud Kiimiai, 1970)
8. Dash akol (Masud Kimiai, 1971)
9. Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Day 5 - Farmanara's historical fiction

10. Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Day 6 - three auteurs in the 70s

11. Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)
12. Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)
13. Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)

Day 7 - Aslani and Mehrjui, mid-70s

14. Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
15. Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)
Day 8 - Before the Revolution

16. Baghé sanngui / The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)

A rather strange experimental mix of documentary, essay and perhaps some fiction looking at the work of Darvish Khan Esfandiarpoor, a poor farmer and a deaf-mute who is constructing a garden of stones - stones for the most part hung from withered trees. Darvish Khan has had a dream compelling him to do this, and like other religious mystics, outsider artists or holy fools he works at it because he believes his life or the world depends on it, and his family can only try to continue on with life somehow; when their eldest son is drafted, they try to get an exception, and when that doesn't work, eventually they start to actively try to solicit religious pilgrims to what is now a "shrine", many of whom leave gifts of livestock or money that the poor family definitely needs. A fascinating work that certainly treads the line between genres, with much of it clearly staged for the cameras and certain formal techniques, like spinning characters around as they speak with the garden whirling by them in the background, that one doesn't find in conventional docs. Kimiavi has had an interest in art - often religiously oriented - and outsiders and hermits since the beginning of his career in the 60s and this is in some ways typical though it also feels like a bridge in some ways between some of the slightly more straightforward nonfiction work and experimental narratives like Mogholha. I happen to live in a part of the US where little religious shrines built by self-taught artists are surprisingly common, and it's long been something of interest to me also, so I found this pretty wonderful. There's a sequel from 2004 which I'll watch later this month.

17. Karevanha / Caravans (James Fargo, 1978)

As far as I can tell this is the only true US - Iran co-production, filmed in Iran with an international cast - Mexican-American Anthony Quinn, Canadian Michael Sarrazin, American s Jennifer O'Neill and Joseph Cotten, British Christopher Lee, and Iranian Behrouz Vossoughi headline, while a great many of the smaller roles go to Iranians, and a significant Iranian presence among the crew though the top names are mostly American including the director, producer and the screenwriters who adapted James Michener's 1963 novel. The book is apparently wildly different - set in Afghanistan right after WWII and involving Nazis, while this is set contemporaneously in the made-up country "Zadestan' - and Michener sued the production as a misrepresentation of his work. Maybe he should have sued it just for being terrible? I will get the good things out of the way first - Douglas Slocombe's color cinemascope photography is great and the production design as a whole is lovely, though perhaps I'm overrating it too given all the horrible prints of lower-budget Iranian films I've watched over the past week - it's just good to see these landscapes and villages look so vibrant. Mike Batt's music is pretty nice also, and Vossoughi in his first English-language role (he left Iran after the revolution and has lived in the US ever since) is impressive in yet another role completely different from what I've seen from him, as the traditionalist Colonel who wants his wife (O'Neill) back after she's left him for the charismatic nomad leader (Quinn, who else?). But on the negative...Sarrazin is just horrible, though he's in an untenable role playing a central character with no background and no motivation, sent into the back country by the American government to find O'Neill, a Senator's daughter, sent without knowing a word of Farsi (or whatever language it's supposed to be - remember it's a made-up country) or seemingly knowing anything whatsoever about the region, culture or people. All by himself. And he's the essence of the ugly American in the first half of the film, not that this makes the country he's travelling in look much better - this is Iran (sorrry, Zadestan) as dumb elderly American Republicans see it, savage and violent and anti-western. Oh and there's a really noxious stereotyped Evil Gay Seducer character thrown in for good measure. When the caravan, and Quinn and O'Neill are found, it turns into a modern-day Grass, with the focus being on this nomadic tribe surviving a long journey and getting involved in weapons-running, and this at least has a bit of drama and adventure, though not much - too much of the film is just people sitting around talking and looking at maps. Oh and there's a horrible pop song thrown in for no good reason except that I guess it was mandatory for films about pretty American women going off to find themselves in the 70s. The real problem overall is that we never get much of a sense of these characters, particularly Sarrazin or O'Neill, and it all feels quite ridiculous and phony and Hollywood.

It's kind of amazing in retrospect that THIS is the one big American-Iranian production - produced just as Revolution was in the air, though there is no real sign of anything like it here, apart from the tribesmen being mad at the (faceless) government for taking their land, and that honestly feels like something closer to an American western. A film that manages to make both America and Iran look bad - it's hard to see that this would have helped make future co-productions more likely, even if the politics had not turned out the way they did.

18. Sooteh-Delan / Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978)

Hatami (father of actress Leila) was probably the most important director active before the Revolution from whom I hadn't seen anything; he was well-established by this point, having started out making mostly comedies and musicals - alas like most filmmakers from this period little of his work is readily available, and most in horrible condition; I'd have liked to start out with his 1970 Hasan Kachal but... no subs. Its a musical so perhaps I'll go back to it anyway but I decided to star with this, one of his better-known works, this in the tragicomic (mostly tragic) romance mode, and starring the ubiquitous Behrez Vossoughi apparently doing a weird kind of Jerry Lewis parody

Image

that eventually settles into the sad portrait of a physically deformed and somewhat slow man who falls in love with a prostitute (Shohreh Aghdashloo). Jamshid Mashayekhi is his sympathetic older brother who runs a shop that rents out table settings for elaborate funerals, weddings and other big events, and who has given up his own chance of love and happiness to care for his brother. This had decent subs but the visual quality was mediocre at best, and the run time is 20 minutes less than stated on IMDb, and while it was easy to follow and didn't have clear narrative breaks or anything, it did feel like something might have been missing. A solid work with great acting all around, especially from the remarkable chameleon-like Vossoughi, but I didn't feel the greatness that apparently many Iranians feel. Once again I hope a better copy comes along some day - the use of color in particular looks like it might be much better than what I could discern here - but I sure won't be betting on it.

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#53

Post by maxwelldeux » May 9th, 2019, 4:48 pm

And Iran, Iran so far awayShow
1. A Taste of Cherry (1997)
2. The Salesman (2016)
3. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)
I thought this was a pretty fascinating look at some of those common problems we all face - uncertainty about marriage, business, weddings, how to behave in social situations. I wouldn't exactly call this a "mystery," but there was a bit of suspense to it. Well done, but didn't quite stir my emotional heartstrings.

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#54

Post by jeroeno » May 9th, 2019, 6:11 pm

10. Leily Ba Man Ast (1996)
11. Dash akol (1971)
12. Boutique (2003)
13. Mehman-e maman (Mum's Guest) (2004)

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#55

Post by Knaldskalle » May 9th, 2019, 9:59 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
May 9th, 2019, 2:52 pm
Eh, I dunno, I think Panahi's last three films have been different enough stylistically, and have explored quite a range of ideas within this fairly narrow subject, so it doesn't much bother me. And it's not like things have changed much for the better there in the past decade, and who is in a better position to speak out against repression than artists?
I would probably have more sympathy with him if his situation hadn't already been well known in the West (and made an appropriately big deal of). So we all know he was prohibited from making films, he went ahead and made films anyway - about how he's not allowed to make films. It all becomes just a little too self-contained, too self-referential (and perhaps just a tad too self-pitying?) to really lift the films themselves up into the realm of great movies. And I say that as someone who thinks Panahi comes across as immensely likeable and I can certainly recognize that he's in a difficult spot (I don't pretend to have any solutions). Anyway, it's just a minor niggle, both This is Not A Film and Taxi are both well worth seeing.
Personal film goals for 2019.
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#56

Post by jdidaco » May 9th, 2019, 10:01 pm

Naser Taghvai mini-fest,

3. Bad-e Jenn (Wind of Jinn, Naser Taghvai, 1969) 9/10 (22 min), Arbaïn (Naser Taghvai, 1970) 10/10 (l) (21 min), Rahaee (Release, Naser Taghvai, 1971) 8/10 (23 min) (Total: 66 min)
4. Aramesh dar Hozur Deegaran (Tranquility in the Presence of Others, Naser Taghvai, 1972) 8.5/10

ImageImage

SpoilerShow
1. Bahar (Spring, Abolfazl Jalili, 1986) 8/10
2. La gale (Scabies, Abolfazl Jalili, 1989) 10/10

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#57

Post by 3eyes » May 9th, 2019, 11:08 pm

2. Inja bedoone man / Here without me (Iran 11)

Tennessee Williams' The glass menagerie, Iranian style - Hayes code and all. Glad I just watched the 1980s US version. This is in its way quite faithful to the original for the first 2/3 (tho for some reason it includes a very brief scene from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). After the heroine learns that the friend is engaged, we are suddenly on a bus where the hero informs us that from now on he can't say what is real and what is fantasy. Und so gut zum guten ende.... Final bucolic scene with grandkid and all, hero sitting on a bench looking on smiling, and then his smile slowly fades..... Slut.
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#58

Post by Nathan Treadway » May 10th, 2019, 1:31 am

I really need to get on the ball with this challenge. Perhaps tomorrow?

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#59

Post by xianjiro » May 10th, 2019, 1:39 am

not sure why y'all are bothering - he that I refuse to name will WIN any challenges with Iran!

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#60

Post by sebby » May 10th, 2019, 8:24 am

01 sib - 4/10
02 the cyclist 3/10
SpoilerShow
sib - 4/10
the cyclist 3/10

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#61

Post by sol » May 10th, 2019, 11:14 am

OldAle1 wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:09 pm
WEEK 1 STATUS REPORT
Stats! :banana: I'm definitely intrigued to see which films will end up being the most viewed ones this month, and whether Farhadi or Kiarostami gets the most viewings overall. Or maybe someone else unexpected? :unsure:
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#62

Post by sol » May 10th, 2019, 11:18 am

The Wind Will Carry UsShow
1. Under the Shadow (2016)
2. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)

3. Mossafer / Traveler (1974)

Image

This debut feature from Abbas Kiarostami follows a schoolboy who is desperate to travel to Tehran to watch his favourite sports team play - lying, stealing and cheating his closest friends, family and teachers in order to achieve this goal. There is a particularly effective sequence with just music (voices drowned out) as Kiarostami's camera walks and follows him through the Tehran crowds. And yet, despite parent-teacher meetings that paint the kid as a misunderstood individual, I didn't really warm to him with his highly reprehensible actions, but I liked how well Kiarostami captured his passion.
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#63

Post by OldAle1 » May 10th, 2019, 4:45 pm

Walnuts, Roses and PoetryShow

Day 1 - Genre films 1965/7

1. Shabe ghuzi / Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965)
2. Ganje qarun / Croesus' Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965)
3. Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham / The Female Vampire (Mostafa Oskooyi, 1967)

Day 2 - Iranian noir, 1961

4. Faryade nimeshab / The Midnight Terror (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Day 3 - Going West; Going to Tehran 1968/70

5. Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio! / Mardaneh bekosh / Stranger Say Your Prayers / etc, etc (Demofilo Fidani, 1968)
6. Aghaye Halou / Mr. Naive (Dariush Mehrjui, 1970)

Day 4 - Kimiai and Naderi in the early 70s

7. Reza motori / Reza, the Motorcylist (Masud Kiimiai, 1970)
8. Dash akol (Masud Kimiai, 1971)
9. Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Day 5 - Farmanara's historical fiction

10. Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Day 6 - three auteurs in the 70s

11. Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)
12. Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)
13. Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)

Day 7 - Aslani and Mehrjui, mid-70s

14. Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
15. Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)

Day 8 - Before the Revolution

16. Baghé sanngui / The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)
17. Karevanha / Caravans (James Fargo, 1978)
18. Sooteh-Delan / Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978)
Day 9 - 60s-70s shorts; Revolution

19. SHORTS 15 + 11 + 19 + 9 + 14 = 68 minutes

a) Tappe-haye Marlik / The Hills of Marlik (Ebrahim Golestan, 1963) (re-watch)

There were quite a few significant short films in the 1960s-70s that showcase Iranian art and art history or archaeology - it was one of the Shah's passions, meant to give himself props as the leader of a country with a vast and wonderful history, and it seems to be a passion for many Iranian filmmakers apart from the influence of the government. Golestan made at least one other short about traditional Iranian art, and his second and last feature, Asrar ganj dareheye jenni / The Ghost Valley's Treasure Mysteries, is a savage attack on the Shah's appropriation of older Iranian culture. This is my favorite of the three shorts from the director I've managed to see so far, and it's now available on YT with (apparently) quite good subs - I first watched it a couple of times years ago unsubbed, and it impressed me enough even then. It's just a little piece about the archaeological excavations in the eponymous region, relatively straightforward for the most part with a narrator explaining how important this history and culture is even to the modern world today, but it's beautifully done and there's a wonderful bit in the middle with various figures of animals and arrows flying around over a black screen that somehow takes me back into that ancient world, and conjures up a universe of myth in a way that precious few films manage.

b) Ars Poetica (Khosrow Sinai, 1967)
c) Sardi Ahan / Cold Iron (Khosrow Sinai, 1969)
These two Sinai films are quite impressive b/w works, the first an experimental piece involving birds and rusty metal sculptures that seems to tell a story of the battle between art, metal, the immovable manufactured world, and birds, flight and freedom. Both the footage of the birds and the strange, semi-anthropomorphic sculptures

Image

are quite beautiful. The second is a similarly beautifully shot and edited portrait of weightlifters - I was much less entranced, because I'm not nearly as interested in looking at wordless beefcake images, and it went on a bit for what it was. But I will definitely be looking for more Sinai work

d) Aan ke khial baft, aan ke amal kard / The One Who Dreamt, the One Who Acted (Morteza Momayyez, 1971)
Somewhat trippy little primitive color animation about a lazy figure who dreams of things, and another who goes out and does them, duh just like the title. Nice but not much to say here.

e) Zang-e Tafrih / The Breaktime (Abbas Kiarostami, 1972)
early Kiarostami short that very typically shows a little boy getting in trouble, and then going off by himself, leaving the school, walking along a highway. Not the most enthralling of his early works but his mastery of editing and sound is certainly present - the little ball game is beautifully done.

20. Baraye azadi / For Freedom (Hossein Torabi, 1979)

Interesting but quite problematic documentary shot during the middle of the Revolution, in 1978-9, with the climax and end being the vote for the Islamic Republic in March, 1979. Interesting - as a historical record, and for us movie fans it's particularly notable that the film begins with the aftermath of the Cinema Rex fire in August, 1978, a deliberate act of arson which killed over 400 patrons. Both the Pahlavi government and the nascent revolutionary groups blamed each other, but - though at a couple of points this film tries minimally to show something of the anti-revolutionary side - it's quite clear from the get-go who the filmmakers believe are responsible. We also see early on shots of pre-Revolutionary painted movie posters, often with seductive half-naked women, and then scenes where they've been torn down. And interesting to see the massive crowds - there's one pan around a square that seems to hold hundreds of thousands, or maybe a million - and to get a sense of the fervor of that time. Problematic though in that too much of the almost two hour run time is devoted to similar scenes of crowds chanting "down with the Shah" and similar things - it gets tedious and the filmmaking is nothing special to enliven it; and problematic in that so little is given over to the criticism, even at the time, of the kinds of changes Khomeini and his government might bring. We get a few very brief interviews with people (nearly all of them women, not surprisingly) who are unsure whether they want to vote for the new kind of government, but we never get to hear their criticisms nor for that matter do we ever get to hear many details either about what bad things the Shah did to bring this on, or how Khomeini's vision is better, or what it is. Ultimately it's just propaganda, interesting and useful to look at from a historical perspective, but clearly one-sided and attempting to be persuasive rather than informative. I'd recommend Tahmineh Milani's 1999 Do zan / Two Women for a fictionalized alternate take on these events that has a lot more relevance to me and I'd imagine to almost anybody who isn't a religious reactionary.

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#64

Post by 3eyes » May 10th, 2019, 5:56 pm

sol wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 11:18 am
3. Mossafer / Traveler (1974)

Image

This debut feature from Abbas Kiarostami follows a schoolboy who is desperate to travel to Tehran to watch his favourite sports team play - lying, stealing and cheating his closest friends, family and teachers in order to achieve this goal. There is a particularly effective sequence with just music (voices drowned out) as Kiarostami's camera walks and follows him through the Tehran crowds. And yet, despite parent-teacher meetings that paint the kid as a misunderstood individual, I didn't really warm to him with his highly reprehensible actions, but I liked how well Kiarostami captured his passion.
I happened to watch this sequentially with Saz dahani / Harmonica (1974) awhile back. They're a good pairing, both about kids exploiting their peers....
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#65

Post by OldAle1 » May 10th, 2019, 11:01 pm

sol wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 11:14 am
OldAle1 wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:09 pm
WEEK 1 STATUS REPORT
Stats! :banana: I'm definitely intrigued to see which films will end up being the most viewed ones this month, and whether Farhadi or Kiarostami gets the most viewings overall. Or maybe someone else unexpected? :unsure:
Probably one of those two, or maybe Panahi, especially if turnout continues to be low. Or perhaps Mohsen Makhmalbaf if I decide to re-watch his whole filmography and catch up on the more recent films that I haven't seen. I'd hoped there'd be a few more takers for this, but perhaps some folks are tired of the massive challenges of the last few months and happy for Spring weather as it is for most of us (though it's been rainy and dreary here most of the last several weeks so I have an excuse to just watch movies set in dry, hot desert country).

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#66

Post by sol » May 11th, 2019, 2:04 am

OldAle1 wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 11:01 pm
Probably one of those two, or maybe Panahi...
Speaking of which:

The Wind Will Carry UsShow
1. Under the Shadow (2016)
2. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)
3. Mossafer / Traveler (1974)

4. Offside (2006)

Image

A Jafar Panahi project about a handful of girls who cross-dress to sneak into their local men's-only stadium to watch a World Cup qualifying match. All of the actresses deliver well with Sima Mobarak-Shahi a particular standout as the most nervous and least enthusiastic fan (see above). The film also explores the soldiers guarding those they catch; while they speak the rhetoric, Panahi presents them as victims of bureaucracy and there is a very intense bit as one escorts a girl to the toilets. Above all else though, I liked how the film showed the power of sport to unite and transcend gender laws.
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#67

Post by sol » May 11th, 2019, 2:06 am

3eyes wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 5:56 pm
I happened to watch this sequentially with Saz dahani / Harmonica (1974) awhile back. They're a good pairing, both about kids exploiting their peers....
Thanks. That does indeed looking promising. The copy on YT though looks even worse than some of those third generation VHS rip copies that Ale has been watching for the Challenge. :blink:
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#68

Post by 3eyes » May 11th, 2019, 2:20 am

OldAle1 wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 11:01 pm
sol wrote:
May 10th, 2019, 11:14 am
OldAle1 wrote:
May 8th, 2019, 4:09 pm
WEEK 1 STATUS REPORT
Stats! :banana: I'm definitely intrigued to see which films will end up being the most viewed ones this month, and whether Farhadi or Kiarostami gets the most viewings overall. Or maybe someone else unexpected? :unsure:
Probably one of those two, or maybe Panahi, especially if turnout continues to be low. Or perhaps Mohsen Makhmalbaf if I decide to re-watch his whole filmography and catch up on the more recent films that I haven't seen. I'd hoped there'd be a few more takers for this, but perhaps some folks are tired of the massive challenges of the last few months and happy for Spring weather as it is for most of us (though it's been rainy and dreary here most of the last several weeks so I have an excuse to just watch movies set in dry, hot desert country).
I hope Dariush Mehrjui and Bahman Ghobadi get their due.
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#69

Post by jeroeno » May 11th, 2019, 6:18 am

3eyes wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 2:20 am


I hope Dariush Mehrjui and Bahman Ghobadi get their due.
I'll help :cheers:
14. Santoori (The Music Man) (2007)

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#70

Post by 3eyes » May 11th, 2019, 3:12 pm

:thumbsup:
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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#71

Post by OldAle1 » May 11th, 2019, 6:12 pm

Walnuts, Roses and PoetryShow

Day 1 - Genre films 1965/7

1. Shabe ghuzi / Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965)
2. Ganje qarun / Croesus' Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965)
3. Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham / The Female Vampire (Mostafa Oskooyi, 1967)

Day 2 - Iranian noir, 1961

4. Faryade nimeshab / The Midnight Terror (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Day 3 - Going West; Going to Tehran 1968/70

5. Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio! / Mardaneh bekosh / Stranger Say Your Prayers / etc, etc (Demofilo Fidani, 1968)
6. Aghaye Halou / Mr. Naive (Dariush Mehrjui, 1970)

Day 4 - Kimiai and Naderi in the early 70s

7. Reza motori / Reza, the Motorcylist (Masud Kiimiai, 1970)
8. Dash akol (Masud Kimiai, 1971)
9. Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Day 5 - Farmanara's historical fiction

10. Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Day 6 - three auteurs in the 70s

11. Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)
12. Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)
13. Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)

Day 7 - Aslani and Mehrjui, mid-70s

14. Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
15. Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)

Day 8 - Before the Revolution

16. Baghé sanngui / The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)
17. Karevanha / Caravans (James Fargo, 1978)
18. Sooteh-Delan / Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978)

Day 9 - 60s-70s shorts; Revolution

19. SHORTS 15 + 11 + 19 + 9 + 14 = 68 minutes

a) Tappe-haye Marlik / The Hills of Marlik (Ebrahim Golestan, 1963) (re-watch)
b) Ars Poetica (Khosrow Sinai, 1967)
c) Sardi Ahan / Cold Iron (Khosrow Sinai, 1969)
d) Aan ke khial baft, aan ke amal kard / The One Who Dreamt, the One Who Acted (Morteza Momayyez, 1971)
e) Zang-e Tafrih / The Breaktime (Abbas Kiarostami, 1972)

20. Baraye azadi / For Freedom (Hossein Torabi, 1979)
Day 10 - Revolution's Aftermath, Bureaucracy and Comedy

21. Jostoju / The Search (Amir Naderi, 1980)

After complaining about the propaganda elements of 1979's Baraye azadi yesterday, I find myself going into raptures about another documentary - one with a message to be sure, but far from the simple politics of the previous film. Naderi's film does, at first, seem to lean to the side of the revolutionaries, but as we go along we see that the message is mostly one of humanism, of a reaction against war and violence and suffering. Was it all worth it might be one idea we're left with in the end. While the Torabi film is about the revolution itself, the crowds of fervent young radicals and the adulation of the Ayatollah and the promise of "freedom", this is about the suffering, the loss, and in particular the grieving families searching for the missing, the presumed dead. Much of the film is taken up with brief interviews with the widows, the orphans, the brother and sister-less, and just as much time in this poetic catalog of grief focuses on the gloom and depression of the empty streets, the filled graveyards, the mortuaries where matching names, bodies, and next of kin is too large a job for the people tasked to handle it, and finally vast quarries and gravel pits where some of the bodies have apparently been dumped. There's a note of fear and conspiracy throughout the film as well - are we being told the truth by the government? - and distrust of the webs of bureaucracy; and there are also shots of how life goes on and how people in downtown Tehran seem oblivious to all the suffering and destruction, only months removed from it. Death and war don't affect everyone equally, that's certainly another message here. Dusky b/w cinematography seems to emphasize the bleakness and barrenness of this new world, and I wonder how the new government saw this - though it doesn't ever come across as a specific criticism of the Islamic Republic, it also doesn't seem to place all the blame on the Shah either. This is the best film I've seen for this challenge so far and the first I'm absolutely comfortable with calling a masterpiece; the copy I watched was decent, with highly readable German subs - those not at least semi-fluent in the language can still get plenty out of it I think.

22. Hamshahri / Fellow Citizen (Abbas Kiarostami, 1983)

48 minutes of a traffic cop patiently explaining the rules to drivers, or arguing with them, being insulted by them, insinuating sometimes that they are lying, all shot in close-ups from similar camera angles, may seem a bit much but Kiarostami keeps the interest going, and I found myself oscillating between sympathy and irritation towards our protagonist. Anyone who has ever manned a customer service desk, worked retail or in a restaurant or bar, or just dealt with an irritated general public for a spell can probably identify with a lot that we see here, the stories these folks tell, the pleadings and sometimes fairly obvious lies. My favorite moments were probably the interactions with the mechanic, who kept adding to his story as he tried to develop a good enough excuse to be allowed to park illegally, and the moment where the traffic cop is essentially accusing a woman (to someone else, not to her face) of lying about her kids being sick. And near the end he's accused of playing favorites, and letting people pass who he likes. All very real to me and on the whole pretty involving, though I have to say I'm a bit at a loss as to why Rosenbaum praises this so much that it lands on his list. Excellent quality YT copy with fine subs.

23. Hajji Washington (Ali Hatami, 1983)

Like the previous Hatami film I watched a couple of days ago this suffers from poor video quality - he was known for his use of color and his sets, and we only get a modest idea of those qualities in this scratchy, somewhat washed-out copy. Subs are OK - there's a bit of it in English and that's not subbed, and the accents are a little tough. Basically a fanciful imagining of the first Iranian ambassador to the USA and his adventures in Washington in 1889, during the presidencies of Grover Cleveland (played here by American beefcake actor Richard Harrison, well after his heyday as a peplum star but before the cycle of endless ninja titles that make up most of his 80s output) and Benjamin Harrison. Hajji (Ezzatolah Entezami) basically sits around the palace he has built for his official residence harassing his assistant, trying to push pistachios on Americans, dreaming up wild spy schemes, and pining for his daughter back in Iran, until one day he finds an Indian (a Native American that is) and decides to let him take refuge in the mansion, from which point this already somewhat weird movie gets weirder. This is clearly meant primarily as a comedy, with an underlying theme that Persians don't get no respect (constantly comparing themselves to the Ottomans who seem to be taken more seriously) but much of the humor was lost on me though I might say "amusing" works as an adjective; but overall I liked it, for Entezami's rather florid and crazy performance and for the general weirdness of the thing.

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#72

Post by 3eyes » May 11th, 2019, 6:43 pm

Re Hajji Washington: Grover Cleveland as a Texan, yet.
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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#73

Post by OldAle1 » May 11th, 2019, 6:52 pm

3eyes wrote:
May 11th, 2019, 6:43 pm
Re Hajji Washington: Grover Cleveland as a Texan, yet.
Yeah, clearly some (gentle) satire of Americans here - also the shooting gallery scene. I love Entezami in this (and everything) - such an uncharacteristic star actor, I'd imagine even in Iran. There's somebody he reminds me of, can't place my finger on it though.

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#74

Post by sol » May 12th, 2019, 5:03 am

The Wind Will Carry Us OffsideShow
1. Under the Shadow (2016)
2. Fireworks Wednesday (2006)
3. Mossafer / Traveler (1974)
4. Offside (2006)

5. Homework (1989)

Image

Kiarostami interviews a number of kids here, all of whom claim to like homework more than cartoons, understand punishment and are beat up if they do not do their homework, yet none can define praise or encouragement, while most of their parents are illiterate. The insight is potent, especially how the kids smile when describing their beatings, yet the film soon becomes repetitive with the kids all stating the same things. Kiarostami keeps things interesting though by constantly cutting away to himself and his cameraman (see above) and the adult interviewees towards the end are a nice touch.
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#75

Post by OldAle1 » May 12th, 2019, 2:22 pm

Walnuts, Roses and PoetryShow

Day 1 - Genre films 1965/7

1. Shabe ghuzi / Night of the Hunchback (Farokh Ghafari, 1965)
2. Ganje qarun / Croesus' Treasure (Syamak Yasami, 1965)
3. Vampir, Zan-e khoon-asham / The Female Vampire (Mostafa Oskooyi, 1967)

Day 2 - Iranian noir, 1961

4. Faryade nimeshab / The Midnight Terror (Samuel Khachikian, 1961)

Day 3 - Going West; Going to Tehran 1968/70

5. Ed ora... raccomanda l'anima a Dio! / Mardaneh bekosh / Stranger Say Your Prayers / etc, etc (Demofilo Fidani, 1968)
6. Aghaye Halou / Mr. Naive (Dariush Mehrjui, 1970)

Day 4 - Kimiai and Naderi in the early 70s

7. Reza motori / Reza, the Motorcylist (Masud Kiimiai, 1970)
8. Dash akol (Masud Kimiai, 1971)
9. Saz Dahani / Harmonica (Amir Naderi, 1974)

Day 5 - Farmanara's historical fiction

10. Shazdeh Ehtejab / Prince Ehtejab (Bahman Farmanara, 1974)

Day 6 - three auteurs in the 70s

11. Postchi / The Postman (Dariush Mehrjui, 1972)
12. Gharibeh Va Meh / Stranger and the Fog (Bahram Beizai, 1976)
13. Dar Ghorbat / In der Fremde / Far From Home (Sohrab Shaheed Saless, 1975)

Day 7 - Aslani and Mehrjui, mid-70s

14. Shatranje bad / The Chess Game of the Wind (Mohammad Reza Aslani, 1976)
15. Dayereh mina / The Cycle (Dariush Mehrjui, 1977)

Day 8 - Before the Revolution

16. Baghé sanngui / The Garden of Stones (Parviz Kimiavi, 1976)
17. Karevanha / Caravans (James Fargo, 1978)
18. Sooteh-Delan / Desiderium (Ali Hatami, 1978)

Day 9 - 60s-70s shorts; Revolution

19. SHORTS 15 + 11 + 19 + 9 + 14 = 68 minutes

a) Tappe-haye Marlik / The Hills of Marlik (Ebrahim Golestan, 1963) (re-watch)
b) Ars Poetica (Khosrow Sinai, 1967)
c) Sardi Ahan / Cold Iron (Khosrow Sinai, 1969)
d) Aan ke khial baft, aan ke amal kard / The One Who Dreamt, the One Who Acted (Morteza Momayyez, 1971)
e) Zang-e Tafrih / The Breaktime (Abbas Kiarostami, 1972)

20. Baraye azadi / For Freedom (Hossein Torabi, 1979)

Day 10 - Revolution's Aftermath, Bureaucracy and Comedy

21. Jostoju / The Search (Amir Naderi, 1980)
22. Hamshahri / Fellow Citizen (Abbas Kiarostami, 1983)
23. Hajji Washington (Ali Hatami, 1983)
Day 11 - 1980s Obscurities

24. Khane-ye Ankaboot / The House of Spider (Alireza Davoudnejad, 1983)

Five men arrive at a house in the country. It is clear immediately that they are fugitives or at least want to stay away from prying eyes; it turns out they are involved in the revolution, though it also becomes clear soon that they don't all have the exact same approach, and in fact we soon learn that they are for the most part counter-revolutionaries who have been involved in the American effort to resolve the hostage crisis. Soon it's apparent that their de facto leader (Jamshid Mashayekhi) will brook no argument, as the rest of the men become increasingly uneasy, talking of escaping out of the country or going back to their families, and eventually the paranoia, backbiting and resentment take their toll on the group's morale and violence comes to the fore. An interesting concept, well-acted (with the great Ezzatolah Entezami also present, as the most pathetic of the conspirators), this ultimately fails for sheer dullness - nothing but talk, and direction not imaginative enough to create real juice - and the overt propaganda elements, such as when one of the younger men says something like "you know, maybe I was wrong to object to my wife ad daughter when they decided to take the chador". It's obvious by the midpoint of the film that we (the presumed Iranian pro-Islamic audience) are supposed to see these men as weak and misguided at best, and to cheer on their destruction. Terrible low-res YT copy didn't help matters, though at least the subs were good, if out of synch for a few minutes near the beginning. First check on icm.

25. Saman (Ahmad Nikazur, 1986)

Ahmad works as the CFO at a military boot manufacturer in a provincial town during the Iran-Iraq war; he has a wife and a young son, and when the son starts to develop vision and coordination problems, he has to choose between attention to his career (and his patriotic duty of course) and his family. Also there's a scheming asshole who was forced out of the company and is trying to get revenge by having a lackey who still works there sabotage the equipment. Not necessarily an uninteresting set-up but completely undone by a combination of terrible acting, cheap production, and a thick layer of propganda and misogyny - the way the husband treats the wife is not exactly brutal, but regularly demeaning and dismissive; when she worries that Ahmed cares more about his factory, he tells he she's being "delusional". And it all wraps up in the most simplistic and unbelievable fashion possible, with plenty of "if God wills it" and similar statements along the way so we know that this is the way good Muslims should behave and that they'll be rewarded if they tow the line. Probably the worst Iranian film I've seen yet; it's good sometimes to see these obscure films that aren't in any way "canonical", that represent something closer to the "average' film you might see in another time or culture - but sometimes they remain obscure with good reason. First check on icm.

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#76

Post by 3eyes » May 12th, 2019, 2:41 pm

I am certainly appreciating your thoughtful reviews, OA.

Just found an 11-part TV series about Avicenna (Bu-Ali Sina, 1987) of which I've watched the first episode. Just to say I'm still in the game.
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#77

Post by OldAle1 » May 12th, 2019, 4:21 pm

3eyes wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 2:41 pm
I am certainly appreciating your thoughtful reviews, OA.

Just found an 11-part TV series about Avicenna (Bu-Ali Sina, 1987) of which I've watched the first episode. Just to say I'm still in the game.
Thanks. I'm really writing mostly for myself but it's nice to know that somebody's reading them sometimes. And nice to know that TV won't be entirely absent from this challenge - I have a miniseries (I guess - hard to tell from the limited info) that I'm hoping to get to myself.

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#78

Post by jeroeno » May 12th, 2019, 6:21 pm

15. Zir-e noor-e maah (Under the Moonlight) (2001)
16. Rusari Abi (The Blue Veiled) (1995)
17. Haji Agha actore cinema (1933)

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#79

Post by 72allinncallme » May 12th, 2019, 6:27 pm

2. Dayereh / The Circle (2000)
3. Zendegi va digar hich / Life, and Nothing More... (1992)
SpoilerShow
1. Shorts:
An shab ke barun amad (1967) 35min
P mesle pelican (1972) 27min
2. Dayereh / The Circle (2000)
3. Zendegi va digar hich / Life, and Nothing More... (1992)

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#80

Post by 3eyes » May 12th, 2019, 8:08 pm

OldAle1 wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 4:21 pm
3eyes wrote:
May 12th, 2019, 2:41 pm
I am certainly appreciating your thoughtful reviews, OA.

Just found an 11-part TV series about Avicenna (Bu-Ali Sina, 1987) of which I've watched the first episode. Just to say I'm still in the game.
Thanks. I'm really writing mostly for myself but it's nice to know that somebody's reading them sometimes. And nice to know that TV won't be entirely absent from this challenge - I have a miniseries (I guess - hard to tell from the limited info) that I'm hoping to get to myself.
Ali Tatimi's series Hezardastan is available w subs on imvbox - as is Tehran Rozegar-e No (1999), which uses footage from it
:run: STILL the Gaffer!

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