Saturday Apr 04, 2009

One More from Majid Madjidi

Majid Majidi, the director who has made a series of internationally released masterpieces (Baran, The Color of Paradise and Children of Heaven) has now released one more: The Song of Sparrows.

My daughter and I got to watch this movie in a Tehran cinema in January (2009), and I'm delighted to see that the movie has made it to the U.S. so quickly after its screening in Iran.

Its US screening started in Manhattan yesterday (April 3, 2009, coincidentally with Persian New Year's sizdah-bedar tradition).

You can read the reviews in The New York Times and in The Wall Street Journal. The latter review includes an interview with Majidi and some deeper analysis of his works. 

There's something strangely attractive about Majidi's work—his handling of simple and universal human emotions, the likes of which one rarely sees in movies made by major houses. If you watch The Song of Sparrows and have some liking for it, you should also explore his other works, each of which study a different dimension of the human emotional core in a completely different setting.

Here, I'm searching for a proper description but I cannot find it. A story can hardly be summarized. It can, in fact, only be told, and each of Majidi's stories are wildly different which help make his works completely fresh and always unexpected. It is also amazing that in many of them Reza Naji has a leading role, and he remains equally perfect for all of these roles. Is it his acting skill? Is it the core, simple character that he has built which keeps seeping through the various stories? In one of Majidi's movies, Baran, Naji plays a minor role but as Majidi's viewer you will keep wondering whether you're dealing with the same man in all these movies where Naji appears. In a sense, Naji has tied the movies together through his acting and simple character play.   

In closing, note that Hossein Alizadeh, one of the living masters of classical Persian music, has composed the music for Sparrows. (I purchased the CD in Tehran's Home for the Arts in January but I've not had a chance to listen to it in full yet to see whether it includes any tracks beyond what we hear in the movie. I would not be surprised if it does.)

Sunday Feb 11, 2007

Color of God

 

Now that I've just mentioned Bahman-e Ghobadi's Turtles Can Fly, I should probably also mention, again, Majid Majidi's Color of Paradise, another Iranian movie worth a very close viewing.

In the original Persian, the sub-titled movie was called Ranghe Khoda, or Color of God.

This movie tells the story of a father and a son, a blind boy who yearns for home.

 

Turtules Can Fly

Recently, I had a chance to watch Turles Can Fly, another Kurdish film made by the Iranian film-maker Bahman Ghobadi and winner of several international prizes in 2004 and 2005.

It depicts an almost surreal world of children living in a ruined Kurdish village and refugee camp in Iraq, near the city of Arbil.

Disillusionment comes in a world caught between brutality, wars and invasions, and hope looks for cracks in the walls of this world.
 

Monday Jan 29, 2007

Growth Path

Financial Times on video and film downloads: (a) Growth from now until 2012: 10 folds. (b) Worth in 2012: $6.3 billion. Chad Hurley at Davos: YouTube will share advertising revenue with video uploaders.


Wednesday Jan 17, 2007

Box Office Hit in Persian

Cease Fire 

The Persian (Iranian) box office hit of last year was Tahmineh Milani's Cease Fire.

Monday Jan 01, 2007

The Film and the Cell Phone

New tools have potential to produce new art forms.

Try reviewing some of the short films from the Pocket Film Festival. (BBC had a preview of the festival, and a later commentary can be found here.) 

Daniel Terdiman of Wired had written about cell phone films much earlier, and more recently, Boston University students are making short films using mobile phones provided by Amp'd. (Amp'd, a mobile communications operator, focuses on serving young subscribers.)

We probably have to wait a bit more to discover the best genre and quality characteristics of these films. For example, will the films have the same dimensions as usual dramatic work: premise, character, conflict and resolution? (Some of the shorts form the Pocket Film Festival seem to give a positive answer to this question.) What stories will these films be best suited to tell? Who will be the primary audience? For what purpose and how will the viewers watch these films?

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