Samad Film Festival

Underground, experimental, and in some cases banned videos from Iran. Reviewing Mohammad Shirvani’s Navel (2004, 83 min.), Joshua Katzman wrote, Five Iranians share a cramped Tehran apartment in this low-budget video drama, shot mostly after dark with night vision that renders the characters as ghostly apparitions with glowing eyes. . . . Shirvani keeps the narrative to a bare minimum, allowing the characters to reveal themselves as their daily routines are recorded, usually by the middle-aged Mani. Oldest of the five and owner of the apartment, he displays an aggressive if affable sense of entitlement as he tracks his cohorts: an expatriate woman visiting from New York, an Iranian Turk who was once an Islamic cleric, a divorced father mostly seen visiting with his young son, and a country boy completing his military duty. No less transgressive are Ehsan Fouladi’s Gasoline (2004, 24 min.) and Mahdi Zarringhalami’s Shiny Muddy Beast (2006, 10 min.): in the former a woman kills and disfigures her boyfriend while the camera periodically turns upside down; the latter features a kind of spastic choreography between the camera-wielding lead actress and the camera filming her. All three are in Farsi with subtitles. (JR)

Published on 20 Apr 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Opening Tries

Luc Moullet’s miniature 1988 epic shows the director’s baroque ingenuity at trying to remove a twist-off cap from a large bottle of Coke. 15 min. (JR)

Published on 14 Apr 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Smugglers

Shot in black and white, 1967’s The Smugglers (1967, 81 min.) is the closest thing to a testament in Lulc Moullet’s oeuvre; despite some derisive allusions to adventure thrillers, the tone is closer to sweet-tempered absurdism, with throwaway gags about backpackers and imaginary borders in the French Alps. 81 min. (JR)

Published on 14 Apr 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Subject Two

An eclectic and not very successful medical student (Christian Oliver) accepts a job from a mysterious doctor (Dean Stapleton) and reports to a remote cabin in the snowy Rocky Mountains. As it turns out, the doctor thinks he can restore life to the recently deceased and needs the student as a guinea pig (his second, hence the title) to be killed and resurrected repeatedly. Writer-director Philip Chidel has a disturbing and gripping story to tell, made all the more resonant by the skilled acting and strong homoerotic undertones. He comes close to ruining this at the end, however, with a self-referential twist that’s too clever for its own good. 93 min. (JR)

Published on 14 Apr 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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J. Edgar Hoover And The Great American Inquisitions

An engrossing two-hour video documentary portrait (1995) by Chicago filmmaker Dennis Mueller. A hatchet job, though a convincing one, this compilation of intelligent talking heads and fascinating archival footage documents Hoover’s behind-the-scenes involvement in major historical events and wisely eschews such personal matters as his closet homosexuality to concentrate on the illegality of many of his investigative methods and proceduresa litany of abuses ranging from blackmail to embezzlement and beyond. Little of the indictment is new, but as a lucid survey and historical refresher course this is essential viewing. (JR)

Published on 14 Apr 2006 in Featured Texts, by admin

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