Recent Film Reviews
Old Film Reviews
Navigation

The new album from Al Rose. Available at CD Baby,  iTunes and Amazon.

If you like the cut of our jib over here at The Moving World, please consider kicking a little something our way.

Journal Archive
« Skyfall | Main | The Master »
Wednesday
Oct242012

"Argo" and "Rhino Season"

Within a week we saw two movies revolving around the Islamic Revolution, the moment in 1979 when the Iranian people gave the boot to the Shah, a much-hated, U.S.-backed oppressive bastard.  The harvest was arguably even worse: the Ayatollah Khomeini, a popular, U.S.-bucking oppressive bastard.  It was interesting to see one take on events from a Western, Hollywood perspective (Ben Affleck’s “Argo”) and another from an Iranian one (Bahman Gobadi’s “Rhino Season,” which we caught at the 48th Chicago International Film Festival). 

Rhino Season

This grueling, starkly beautiful Turkish drama tells the true story of Iranian poet Sahel Farzan (veteran actor Behrouz Vossoughi), thrown in prison in the wake of the Islamic Revolution for writing “anti-regime poetry.”  Monica Belluci plays his lover Mina, a daughter of privilege.  (There was a strong correlation between class and a secular, Western lifestyle: in their happy pre-revolution days, Sahel and Mina look very “seventies.”)  Mina’s disturbed driver (Yilmaz Erdogan) is madly in love with her, and during the score-settling that follows the revolution, this spurned, jealous man becomes a hidden interrogator, taking advantage of the revolution to separate the lovers in prison (and of a hooded conjugal visit to rape Mina). 

Behrouz Vossoughi's haunted eyes express regret beyond words, as does the scoreDampening her natural gorgeousness in haggard sadness, Belluci performs with quiet dignity as Mina.  One might say that covering up Belluci’s gorgeous body in the chador is itself a crime, emblematic of all that was wrong with this revolution.  (In one scene, devout women undress her, mocking her viciously all the while as a whore.) 

Freed after decades, Sahel journeys to Istanbul.  He gazes up at the house on the sea where Mina has built a life with the family that flowered from the rape, including a daughter who has grown up to be a reluctant prostitute (Beren Saat).  It’s a life that even includes a complicated relationship with the driver, now grey.  Still, she never forgot Sahel, though told he was dead: whereas once she covered her cell in calligraphy, etching his words into the walls, now she tattoos his words onto people’s bodies.

Presented by Martin Scorsese, this is striking, deeply-felt filmmaking from Bahman Gobadi.  It grasps for a visual equivalent for that aspect of poetry that will always confound political hacks of all stripes: the way it speaks in images and metaphors.  Poetry is "political” only in the sense that it is a personal expression of the human heart…a yearning for freedom and love.  (At times we hear a woman’s voice reads Farzan’s poems).  Turtles fall from the sky while Saleh is left exposed to winter in a desolate courtyard.  He finds peace in shimmering underwater shots, even in the eye of torture.  Gobadi’s palette is wintry, his camera crawling against walls, gazing through rain-streaked windshields to create compositions of dramatic perspective. 

Rating: ***1/2

Key to ratings:

***** (essential viewing)
**** (excellent)
*** (worth a look)
** (forgettable)
* (rubbish!!)

Argo

This thriller is the true story of a CIA agent’s (Ben Affleck) so-crazy-it-just-might-work plot to shepherd six U.S. foreign-service workers out of Iran in the wake of the Islamic revolution by having them pretend to be a film crew shooting a non-existent sci-fi movie ("Argo," inspired by the agent’s son's love for "Star Wars").  Affleck’s boy is about the same age as I would have been at the time.  Hollywood becomes an emblem of America's childlike view of the world, reflecting our fantasy view of ourselves as the universe’s good guys, but also of something truly great: this is the only land, after all, that could create a “Star Wars."  Hollywood, the dream factory, may be uniquely American, but it tickles something universal, for good or ill.  Even the guards think the posters for “Argo” are pretty cool.

A mainstream American picture that understands the world is a rarity, and Affleck gets the nuances, whether of U.S./Iran relations or movie politics in Hollywood.  The casting is top, including funny turns by Alan Arkin as a gruff veteran producer and John Goodman as the makeup guy roped in to make the “movie,” as well as Bryan Cranston as Affleck’s boss.  (The only choice that didn’t quite ring true for me, actually, is Affleck himself as the hero.)  The filmmakers have done an excellent job of making these people not only look but feel like they exist in the seventies.        

When he lets the tension grow out of a situation, Affleck is an excellent thriller director.  The opening sequence here, where protestors storm the U.S. embassy, is a nail-biter.  To watch it is to be thrown into the situation.  Sometimes, though, he gilds the lily, as in a scene where everything hinges on a suspicious guard's phone call to Arkin and Goodman and they’re kept from crossing the set as the phone rings.  Still, this is the kind of riveting night at the movies we’re always hoping for but of which we don't get enough.  You want to cheer, if only because as a traveler you know how hard it is to run the gauntlet at airports…even without fake passports.

Rating: ***1/2

--October 24, 2012

Key to ratings:

***** (essential viewing)
**** (excellent)
*** (worth a look)
** (forgettable)
* (rubbish!!)

References (65)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: zm-dev.com
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: via
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Red Payments
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Red Payments
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Somatodrol Reviews
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: red payments
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: bilkarltd.com
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Barrington RE/MAX
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: equivita
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Aloe Ferox
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: internet marketing
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: goji active Review
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Seasonal Events
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: real estate
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Tyrant Unleashed
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: buy fifa 15 coins
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Read the Full Post
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Rejuvius Reviews
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Rejuvius Reviews
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: pets
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Brandon Colker
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: previous page
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    Response: Read Even more
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"
  • Response
    The Moving World - Old Reviews - "Argo" and "Rhino Season"

Reader Comments (1)

"Argo" is currently playing in Athens and we hope to see it this week. Thanks for the insightful review. "Rhino Season" sounds excellent too. I hope it eventually comes to tiny Athens.

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Pfeiffer

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>