Mani Haghighi – Kargaran mashghoole karand AKA Men at Work (2006)

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A bare bones synopsis of this film might lead you to expect that it is lethally boring. Four middle aged buddies are returning to Tehran from a trip to the mountains, trying to get back in time to watch an important soccer match on TV. Their homeward journey grinds to a halt when they round a curve in the highway and are confronted by a natural monolith, a 10 foot high, narrow rock formation, projecting straight up out of the ground, overlooking the canyon below. They spend the rest of the movie trying to topple it. Hmmmmm. Not a narrative arc that causes gooseflesh exactly, am I right? What makes this short movie almost spellbinding instead has nothing to do with the rock, but everything to do with the etchings of character that unfold as each man reacts to the circumstances, and they all kill a lot of time just doing guyspeak, largely about their women, past and present. Fleshing out that theme, one might say, are appearances by two of the women in their lives who – either inadvertently or by design – show up at the rock project. They too prove to be intriguing and contrasting personalities.

This film, based on a story by Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, is reminiscent of the work of John Cassavetes, and, like his films, this one is not for everyone’s taste. (IMDB ) Continue reading