Woodpecker (2010) and Stillness (2008) showcased in mooweex. “mooweex” is an online showcase of new and established Iranian film makers.
Review on Entity of Haze (2010)
By Dean Kavanagh
Arguably a very joyous film, Entity Of Haze is the story of a young gardener who’s active removal from a ‘reality’ leads him to slip into another; a reality of grass, dirt, leaves, sunlight, plants, care, desire and potential loneliness. This young man walks through the large fields and spaces, lying down against the warm grass, his hands gripping and tear at the ground; his own frustration and push for a further desire to ‘feel’ in this world.
The sunlight brings the canopies of trees to life, but its different, not quite the same as one would see this event. Everything is lost in some detachment. Some blur of this natural environment, perhaps mirroring his own state, perhaps not. Perhaps this is just some memory, some feeling that he is unable to feel anymore.
The man returns home, through the green, and into his wildly overgrowing garden. He walks to a small over grown greenhouse at the end of the garden. He enters and trims some of the plants that are overgrowing. He does this with care and attention, but since they are all overgrown, almost pointless, as if his acts are just murmurs or a memory of what he used to do there. Suddenly, as he exits, a large beam of light marks through the tree canopies and soaks the small over grown greenhouse. Just as soon as this chance act occurs, it is gone.
The young gardener returns to finish some other duties, he chops wood into a pile. The sounds are very natural, the crunch of the wood and the snap and crackle of the bark; this is very satisfying for him. He discovers a rose, he clips it. The camera frees itself from observant static standing and lifts with the young gardener’s hands as he carries the rose. Something has changed here, potentially another memory, another murmur of what has happened.
We are presented with a young woman, her hair dark like soil and standing in an old shed or alcove. The dust from the wood floats in the air with the pollen from the trees. Is she really there, or is this idea of love for this young man, just some horrible dreamlike murmur that he must live through in a variety of ways?
Perhaps this haze is the distant call of a better reality, a better life, this is pointless for the young gardener as he is unable to reach or exist in it. He will only see it in the distance, beyond the trees and under the grass, in the sunlight and in reflections. Happiness in life is unobtainable for this man.
Review on Nightfall (2008)
By Dean Kavanagh
This film opens and closes on a woman’s face. One, an aging portrait of an aging woman; the second, an actual woman close to tears. The irony here, although not a blatant one, is that the body of the film concentrates on a young man who is going through a trauma. Objectively, the decision is unrested as to whether this ‘trauma’ is independent of both these women.
Nightfall introduces a darkness only lit by street-lamps, casting shadows across empty roads and walkways from which a man walks. The trees tower above him and their foliage is still, motionless, observant.
The man’s home is still and empty, much like the pathways and roads. One is then confronted with the basic tasks of this man’s night, such as making himself a meal. While the food seems exotic and vibrant, it is presented as a bland and monotonous dish, as it’s natural color is denied through the sepia tone.
One could add that the choice of shooting through a sepia tone obviously leaves the spectator with a complete lack of color and of a definite black and white. Therefore one could suggest that these factors incidentally reveal the bleak, ‘grey side of life’. The events of this man’s life, and especially his meal are far from a colorful feast. He robotic adds the monotone ingredients in a nonchalant manner, and stands over the boiling pots like a scientist. There is no love in this meal.
Furthermore the moment of eating this meal is reduced to mere consumption through a complete destruction of ceremony and romanticism. This is achieved through destroying the scene by a heavy film grain. One could also add that there is a close association with the character and the language of the film. This takes on a pathetic fallacy on a pure cinematic level; note that the film grain completely destroys the dining scene because the man is completely unhappy. He is not content, therefore the film is not content. The film could therefore be seen as part of this man’s ‘point of view’. Thus making the film a highly subjective vision, but due to the non-conclusive narrative this film remains very ‘objective’.
Nightfall could be seen as both formalistic and non-formalistic, and half of the shots are framed by definite, bold and symmetrical lines (both horizontal and vertical) while the other half (framed still within this symmetry) is of shadow and non symmetrical shapes. The majority of the film is lit using diffused natural light (at night), making objects and definite lines hard to see. One could agree that this adds to the overall state of anxiety, loss and hopelessness, because visually there is a sense of being ‘lost’.
The sound is completely Diegetic and sets the tone of realism, anchoring to viewer to this one house. The camera does not give room for the viewer to breathe or look away as he/she is forced into dialog with extreme close-ups of boiling water, pasta and the man’s uncertain face. Also the portrait of the unknown woman is presented frequently in close-up. In these close-ups, the screen is crawling with a heavy film grain and blemishes and with this the face looks like it is moving or motioning to the viewer.
When the morning finally arrives there is no sense of relief. A visitor arrives at the door. It would appear that this woman shares the same problem and that there is a common understanding. The film ends, nobody will never know what has happened or what will happen to this man in his life. But one at least has experienced a single night of his life with him. This is a very personal film.
To conclude, Nightfall is a marriage of the objective and the subjective, leading towards a humble sense of truth. A truth which this film and all products of lens-based media strive towards.
Review on Now and Forever (2008)
By Dean Kavanagh
One could interpret Now & Forever in many different ways and that is the power of the film. It is a film of sadness and loneliness presented through the actualities of one man’s life.
While this story could have been conclusive in its resolve through presenting a very simplistic story of love; it is not. The film begins with a strange sense of void and loneliness, moving into moments of real desire and happiness; finally the darkness resurfaces as the film ends. While the film is shot in luminous color (a motif of green stands throughout) there is a dominant dark presence, a sense of unease surrounding the films ‘pure’ aesthetic intentions.
One could suggest that the narrative of the film is highly objective and open to interpretation. Furthermore at its core it is a fairly basic story. However, the language of cinema employed to weave such a tale could be deemed rather complex (e.g.: extreme close ups, long takes (one lasts 13minutes), Diegetic sound, symmetrical framing). One could add that it is this combination of basic story premise and complex film elements that add to the overall sense of minimalism, and even realism.
Now & Forever has a simple plot, a young man leaves an apartment, whether it is his or not is unknown. He meets his girlfriend (who remains unseen and unheard for the duration) beside a canal/riverbank. He explains his situation and his underlining deep care and love for her. He says goodbye and he walks off alone.
One could interpret that it is the film’s purpose to show you this man. He is expressing feelings that others express everyday. He is explaining why he feels the way that he feels; he is exploring his emotions. The viewer is sat right next to this man (in a close-up) and is made sit through his conversation. It could be said that through this process, one can relate to him and what he says, form opinions about him and his relationship. According to the man, this girl is “not full of filth and depression, but she is a very happy person”.
The viewer never sees the girl nor does the viewer even hear her talk or interact with the protagonist, the audience may be convinced that she is sitting there, staring back at him, loving him. Or not. She might not even exist.
This film, shot in luminous color with its overall ‘brightness’ may well be presenting a tale of a man in love. Or is it a tale of a mentally-ill man who cannot find time to talk to his goldfish because he has a date with himself on a canal bench. There is always a darkness.
This could may well be a story of a man that is so detached from himself, due to personal worries; that he must in return analyze himself until he reaches some semblance of closure. Something which he may have found in the end but the viewer never does.
Review on Grey (2008)
By Dean Kavanagh
The short film “Grey” contains all of these things, as it depicts an old man in pursuit of something (an answer perhaps, to a question that he has asked himself). He sits under a thick canopy of trees and stares out into a long river that is flowing in front of him. Bare trees twist and melt in the rivers murky water. Pondweed and flies infest the surfaces nearest to the riverbank. Car headlights pour slowly past in the distance, he is oblivious to these things. This man does not even see the flies or the slight shimmer of the water as the sun catches it. He sees a port. He sees a large ocean liner crawl past. He sees a young couple and their dog, reflected in the water.
Shot in sharp black and white (the colors of mourning), this film studies life and personal history. It is about a man who is, in many ways, like the cinema. He uproots history and projects it with human bias. The man recalls his own history through his memories of his family and other moments that haunt him. Perhaps these are incidents and personal thoughts that span decades; surmised in a short breath that in a current context holds an answer to a question that is troubling him. Nonetheless, he sits alone and reflects; content in isolation, the surrounding environment stirring memories and lost images of his past, of his history, of his longing.
Review on History of Cinema (2008)
By Dean Kavanagh
At the opening of History of Cinema one simply sees. There is no sound. A man wearing a nice suit and a hat enters the frame and installs a small wooden stool. He returns and places a very old camera on top of the stool. The film jump cuts, bringing the viewer closer to the stool, then the stool in a Georges Méliès-esquire moment of magic jumps closer by the same movement, the viewer static. The viewer then sees a smaller screen in which the same action occurs, a man in a nice suit and a hat places a stool and an old camera into frame. One could note in this symmetry, the lack of ‘magic’ but a scientific study, the pattern of edit, the reverse of open jump cut to a hidden one (bringing the stool and camera closer). Furthermore, even the character in the suit places the stool with an over cautious care. The character looks into the camera (at the viewer), then when a second POV is established (i.e.: through the viewfinder of the old camera) the same ‘look’ appears. Perhaps it could be said that this movement and situation will repeat forever. What one sees here, and it is inherent throughout History of Cinema, is a mathematical, often symmetrical progression of ideas, both physical and ideological.
The opening of History of Cinema could be seen as a key to understanding the entirety. The film is a ‘personal view’, and through the character one notes he is not being directed by some person but is simply making up ‘his’ shot, and once again one notes that through the viewfinder of the older camera we see ‘his’ shot. The difference? There is none, both are the same. By the implication of the identical shot, the filmmaker is implying that the first shots were the same as the last. That the character that set up the stool before an audience set it up before the old camera POV also. And it is later one finds that it is actually the filmmaker/director Rouzbeh Rashidi, playing the character, thus both shots are one in the same.
This is a viewpoint of one man through a history of Cinema that begins without sound and with a camera. And what follows is perhaps stranger, but respective of the scientific and personal observation. The progression from silent to musical accompaniment, color, and onto the use of still image and even abstract futurist notions, such as a sequence involving an extreme close-up of a hand guiding a PC mouse, which now resembles something like a car or craft. One could note that the removing and abstraction of objects from the norms and their context (history) is a key facet to History of Cinema. The movement of the sound effects, which are ubiquitous in the film and how they are applicable to the images. In one situation some kind of clip or bolt is dropped repeatedly into a water filled object. The extreme (almost Macro) cinematography would suggest the use of a web cam. The sounds, though also abstracted and created perhaps from glitch notes, water drips (their pitch perhaps altered), sound bites, all have a rhythm and a pace, much like the film itself. Throughout the 33 minutes of this ‘mini-feature’, one has a certain realization of the pace, the progression and ideas expressed.
Perhaps this is a conflict? The notion of the scientific being ‘personal’? , But in the case of History of Cinema, this could not be closer to the truth. The filmmaker makes a very exact and distanced observation on his views of cinema and its stories and history. Of course the piece becomes personal as these are the directors images and characters. This is his world. His history; perhaps even a single history through himself; His(story) of Cinema.
Furthermore, the film ends on a close-up of a man (the same man from the start) staring into the camera (at the audience), his state of mind altered, destroyed, he looks sick and removed. Color streaks (perhaps a rewinding video from TV) follow. One is left completely desensitized, left with nothing but the strange sounds and terrifying colors, as they race towards the black.
Bipedality (2010) is officially selected and will be premiered (UK) in The London Underground Film Festival.
Location: The Horse Hospital (Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom)
Time: 07 December · 18:00 – 19:30
Tickets available here: www.wegottickets.com
Profits from this screening will be donated to the Experimental Film Society, an independent film production company founded by Rashidi.