setsuled: (Frog Leaf)


Mahmad Firouzkoui is just too meek to overcome a streak of extraordinarily bad luck in 1977's The Report(گزارش). This doesn't stop him from beating his wife though from the tone of the film I think we're meant to think he should be forgiven for this, that he's well within his rights. The underlying misogyny of the film is part of its central idea of the injustice of a man being thoroughly emasculated at work and at home. It has some well constructed scenes and good performances--and one great performance.

Ironically, the best performance in the film comes from Shohreh Aghdashloo as Mahmad's wife, Azam. Her character is written entirely based on her effect on Mahmad--she constantly nags him about going out with his friends after work, she complains about taking care of their kid, she complains he doesn't make enough money. The script never gives us anything from her perspective but Aghdashloo through sheer brilliance in her performance actually does a lot to make up for it.



So a film that otherwise would have been a one sided pity party for a much put upon man works out to be much more provoking. Mahmad (Kurosh Afsharpanah) works as a tax collector. He's wrongly accused of embezzlement and is laid off during the investigation. He's frustrated but when he's confronted on the matter he tends to stammer and look at his feet.



When he goes home, it's to the constant nagging of Azam and their arguments become worse as it becomes clear they can no longer afford their home. The tension in these scenes comes across really well. The director, Abbas Kiarostami, uses long takes of the actors exchanging dialogue, giving it a stage play quality. The couple's young daughter, when she laughs or cries, is clearly not acting but her behaviour is always seamlessly incorporated in the scene.



I felt really bad for the kid because there are moments when the director must have intentionally made her cry. I guess there's no other way to get the scenes but it's one of those moments where I'm not sure people should go that far for art. I know I couldn't do it.



The film also has some very good compositions, especially near the end. The climactic episode, where Azam attempts suicide, hits a pinnacle of misogyny as we're clearly meant to feel worse for Mahmad than for Azam as he's faced with the nurses caring for her asking with passive reproach, "Did you beat her up?" The doctor at the clinic knows right away what happened because apparently the clinic receives women regularly who've overdosed on the kinds of pills Azam took, the implication being that Azam may have been only trying to get revenge on Mahmad.

Twitter Sonnet #997

Again the pair repair to coffins lined
And trimmed in cash and coin reclaimed in glass
Replete with empty stares like sleep resigned
Without the thought of rest the night to pass.
Into the light refracted white the prey,
A hunted hat, appearing just above
The hedge, a canny puppet clear as day
Desisted flight and turned to throw a glove.
A strike of acid dries the lemon through,
Deprives the battery of taste before
Electric eyes request to know just who
Could sew the path up to the only door.
The engines cull the vapour from the rock
Inside the face; a deftly hidden lock.
setsuled: (Skull Tree)


Most people don't see any drawbacks in trying to cure cancer, many don't consider the process might produce a new species of rapidly multiplying slime creature that sucks all bone matter from human bodies with its proboscis. For the edification of the scientific community and sober contemplation of the general public 1966's Island of Terror presents the possible nightmare resulting from what many presume is a perfectly innocent and noble endeavour. This Terence Fisher movie starring Peter Cushing not produced by Hammer actually features a moralising coda warning the viewer against the dangers of science gone to far. You have to love such sincerity. Less charming is the film's misogyny but the film's mainly enjoyable for its odd succession of cosy, chatty scenes and Cushing in a very affable mode.



After establishing a super high tech lab hidden on a small island off Ireland's east coast, the film becomes a mystery unravelled in scenes of people going to visit other people who in turn go to visit yet more people with their own questions. This sort of relay of concern is kicked off when one of the villagers on the island visits the constable (Sam Kydd) complaining that her husband is three hours late getting home and he's not at the pub. The constable investigates and finds the man's body turned into a squishy, rubbery mass.



So he pays a visit to Dr. Landers (Eddie Byrne) who is confounded after doing an autopsy of the boneless body. So Dr. Landers goes to England to pay a visit to Dr. Stanley (Cushing), one of the leading men in his field.



Stanley doesn't know what to make of it so the two of them go and pay a visit to Dr. West (Edward Judd) who's even more of a leading man in this field it seems. He's also a sort of knock-off James Bond, trading corny sex jokes with a beautiful woman named Toni (Carole Gray) who's wearing only a shirt.



This was the only truly insufferable part of the movie. To get to the island on short notice, Toni offers her rich father's helicopter on the condition, imposed with a mischievous smirk, that she be allowed to come along. Throughout the film, she insists on joining the men for every adventure and then panics and cries and fouls up everything every single time. It occurs to me the wrong way to write women might be exactly the right way to write children.



By contrast nearly all the men are uncannily cool throughout the film, which is sort of fun. I liked the cosy, relaxed vibe of Peter Cushing and Edward Judd poring over notes in an inn after finding a massacre of boneless scientists at that lab. It's a little while before they meet the creatures.



It's not the most inspiring special effect--not quite having as much fascinating weirdness as the creatures in movies like Fiend Without a Face to make up for being unconvincing but they are pretty fun. I liked how they seemed to slowly secrete spaghetti whenever one creature divided to become two.



Twitter Sonnet #984

Pineapple juice adorns the leaden brick.
The vault's computer dust's too full to-day.
As runners tread like graves they'll slowly stick.
In thoughts triangles pin a bad delay.
In batt'ry temples acid sips the scalp.
Condemned for plastic hair the men retreat.
Repeating slogans captured Pez for help.
The webs of wardrobe finalise the street.
A bubbling counterfeit collects a car.
Divested hands compose an itch to sleep.
A fading laugh obliged the comic's bar.
In radios the signal carries deep.
Forgiving paws disrupt the leaves outside.
When phones make ghosts our hearts'll coincide.

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