Jafar Panahi

Crimson Gold

As our review has already pointed out, the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is a disaster. Even for a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. Don’t get me wrong, I have a soft spot for the first one, released in 1990. But even though it has a certain goofy charm, it’s not a good movie. That’s a shame for someone like me, who actually enjoyed the cartoon quite a bit and before that grew up on the old, slightly more mature Eastman and Laird comics. This time both the Turtles and their movie are ugly and utterly unlikeable, but the worst part is probably in how ridiculously unoriginal the plot is. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is awfully similar to the story running through the first two Amazing Spider-Man movies, but it makes them look like Nolan’s Dark Knight films by comparison. The TMNT movie also reminds us of Tim Burton’s Batman, xXx, Howard the Duck and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. And very slyly of the TV series Arrested Development. But this week I don’t want to just recommend mainstream movies you should know, even bad ones to make a point that even Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Howard the Duck are better than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A movie this bad requires a real cleansing afterward. Therefore, I’ve selected 10 films you’d likely find in an art house theater, all docs, foreign films and classics to help wash away the filth staining your soul following the latest adventures of Leonardo, Donatello, […]


Nobel Theater

There is no Nobel Prize for Cinema, but there should be. Not that it’s anyone’s fault, of course. Alfred Nobel put aside the funding for the five prizes (Medicine, Peace, Physics, Chemistry and Literature) in his will, and he died in 1896. It seems entirely likely that the Swedish inventor and philanthropist never even saw a single film projected in his life. Why would he set aside some of his fortune to reward the practitioners of an art form that had been around for less than a decade? I suppose one could leave it at that. Tough luck, cinema. But in 1969 the Swedish Academy began giving out the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. If they can grant an annual award to a fake science, then they can certainly do the same for an entirely real art. What would such a prize look like? It should probably take most of the parameters of the Nobel Prize in Literature, which is the only current award that recognizes artists. The aren’t really specific criteria, except that the recipient has to be living. The list of prior laureates is international and interdisciplinary, including novelists as well as poets and playwrights. And, most importantly, the prize is given out for an entire body of work. Individual books have been included in citations, but that’s rare these days.


Continuing a yearly tradition that began at the defunct movie blog Spout, this is my 5th annual list of mostly original yet highly unlikely Halloween costume ideas. You can take any of these suggestions if you want, especially if you want to avoid having the same outfit as another person at the party you attend, and particularly if you want something that needs a lot of explanation — these tend to be good conversation starters for people looking for excuses to hit on you. Mostly, though, the following ideas are not to be taken too seriously. Some are really just stupid jokes. But they’re primarily intended to visually remind us of some of the trends, criticisms, immediate icons and zeitgeist of the past year in film. For instance, last year‘s “Forrest Gump wearing an X-Men uniform” costume illustrated 2011’s penchant for Gump-like revisionist history in blockbuster movies. And back in 2008, there was a costume called “Nuke the Fridge.” Sadly, in looking over 2012 for this year’s ideas, I realized that it’s been a very weak year for movie references worth calling back. Where are this year’s “nuke the fridge,” Antichrist fox, “Why cookie Rocket?” and “Winklevi”? Before too long, I might need to spin-off a TV version of this tradition to make it easier on me and more interesting to readers. Because we all know film culture is dead anyway, right?  


Culture Warrior

In the late 1990s, two quite divergent Iranian films were recognized on the Western stage. During the 1999 Academy Awards, Majid Majidi’s Children of Heaven, a touching Satyajit Ray-like neorealist drama about a pair of siblings searching for lost shoes, became the first Iranian film nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Two years earlier, in May 1997, Abbas Kiarostami’s minimalist exercise Taste of Cherry won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the first Iranian film to do so. By the tail end of the twentieth century, Iran had made its way onto the stage of world-renowned arthouse filmmaking. While other cinematically underrepresented nations have oscillated in and out of prominence as the place where great new movies are being pioneered (South Korea, Romania), Iran has consistently, albeit quietly, given the West a limited but incredible output of challenging and innovative films.


Another day, another lineup announcement from AFI FEST 2011 that sends me positively reeling. Today sees the film festival rolling out their World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short selections. Today also sees me jumping up and down and repeatedly screaming, “ALPS! ALPS! ALPPPPSSSS!” As has been the trend with AFI FEST’s recent lineup announcements, this crop of films guarantees that the festival is a can’t-miss for any film buffs in the Los Angeles area. There’s a number of titles here that festival-obsessed cinephiles will recognize from recent events – films like Ben Wheatley‘s Kill List, Morten Tyldum‘s Headhunters, Jean-Baptiste Léonetti‘s Carre Blanc, Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film, and for Dogtooth obsessives like me, Yorgos Lanthimos‘s Alps. AFI FEST will run from November 3rd through the 10th in Hollywood, with all screenings taking place at The Chinese, the Chinese 6 Theatres, and the Egyptian Theatre. The best part? Tickets for all screenings are free (and available starting October 27). Free, guys, free. After the break, check out the full list of the films to be featured as AFI FEST World Cinema, Breakthrough, Midnight, and Short Film selections.


Continuing a noted dislike for creative types, Iran has arrested six filmmakers who they claim are creating negative news stories about the country while in the employment of the BBC Persian Service. Today, the BBC released a statement affirming that the news service had purchased the rights to the filmmakers’ films, but disavowing that they were direct employees. According to Fox News, the filmmakers were not identified by name. This move comes amidst the claims by the Iranian government that the BBC is responsible for encouraging and creating dissent amongst its citizens which led directly to the large-scale protest of the 2009 presidential election wherein incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedineejad beat reformist challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. It also comes after the Iranian government effectively ended the career of internationally known director Jafar Panahi in December of last year. Is the BBC setting the record straight, or is it redefining employee status in order to help them get out of detainment? Without more information, it’s unclear what exactly is going on here, but it’s still safe to say that Iran is not a big fan of free speech.


Back in May, Jafar Panahi was released by the Iranian government on bail while under charges of creating an “anti-regime” movie. Today, just seven months later, he finds himself facing a six-year long jail sentence and a two-decade long ban from filmmaking. He won’t be allowed to write or have a role in the production of any films for the next 20 years. He also can’t give interviews, speak to the media, or travel abroad during that time. Considering he’s 50, Panahi won’t be legally allowed to make another film until his 70th birthday. Hopefully the battle isn’t over yet completely, but if it is, it would be an incredible gesture for the 70-year-old Panahi to come out swinging as a birthday gift to the world. Hopefully before then, the regime in Iran will have changed its position. The acclaimed director made an absolutely beautiful film in The White Balloon and has a host of other moving films under his belt. He’s a Palm d’Or and Golden Lion winner. It’s a disgrace that the Iranian government would silence his voice simply for being involved in the Green Movement that protested the latest questionable election in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad retained his position. It’s despicable that this sort of thing can happen today, and it gives a great context to the freedom that filmmakers have elsewhere in the world. At the end of the day, at least they can make a movie as terrible as Garfield 2 without fear of being […]

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published: 12.19.2014
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published: 12.15.2014

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