Abbas Kiarostami – Ta’m e guilass AKA Taste of Cherry (1997)

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Winner of the Gold Palm at the 50th Cannes Festival, Taste of Cherry follows along with Mr Badii’s trajectory. He is a man in his fifties, and he is driving about in his car over points in the city where the unemployed are available for odd, occasional jobs.
Mr Badii tries, in the midst of all these people, to find someone willing to get into his car and earn himself some quick, easy money in exchange for a small job. A small job that is difficult to explain and that no one seems willing to accept.

Mr Badii dialogs with a series of characters who are more or less marginalized by society and who receive his suggestion with varied reactions. Continue reading

Abbas Kiarostami – Rangha AKA The Colours (1976)

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Abbas Kiarostami, director of such somber films as Taste Of Cherry, is the last person one would suspect of dabbling in goofy formalist instructional movies. Nevertheless, that’s what he does here. A color is brought up – red, for example. Then various red things are shown, starting with that which is found in nature and going from there. And so on for various colors. Also, a boy with a pistol shoots different colored bottles of water and the same boy is the last survivor of a car chase. This is rather inconsequential but fun – like Seseme Street for simpleminded adults. Continue reading

Asghar Farhadi – Jodaeiye Nader az Simin aka A Separation (2011)

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THE GUARDIAN review (contains plot details):

An unhappily married couple break up in this complex, painful, fascinating Iranian drama by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, with explosive results that expose a network of personal and social faultlines. A Separation is a portrait of a fractured relationship and an examination of theocracy, domestic rule and the politics of sex and class – and it reveals a terrible, pervasive sadness that seems to well up through the asphalt and the brickwork. In its depiction of national alienation in Iran, it’s comparable to the work of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. But there is a distinct western strand. The film shows a middle-class household under siege from an angry outsider; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends. All these things surely show the influence of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Farhadi, like Haneke, takes a scalpel to his bourgeois homeland. Continue reading

Sohrab Shahid Saless – Yek Etefagh sadeh AKA A Simple Event (1973) (DVD)

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Sohrab Shahid-Saless was born in Tehran in 1943 and lived in Tehran. He studied film in Vienna and Paris. After returning to Iran, he first worked for the Ministry of Arts and Culture, where he made 22 films. In 1976, he left Iran for Germany, where he worked as a filmmaker until 1991, then moving to Chicago. He died in Washington DC in June 1998.

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In his first feature, the milestone film A Simple Event (1973), he describes the everyday life of a ten-year-old boy living in a small town with an ill mother and a father struggling to make a living smuggling fish. Continue reading