Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ribbon of Dreams

Orson Wells said: "A film is like a ribbon of dreams..." Personally, I've always liked dreamy flicks. Dreams, after all, can have hard edges, convoluted twists of plot and unexpected drama. That's unless you're talking about standard Hollywood fare, which is ever so predictable and formulaic. Prequels, sequels, endless variations on tired plots, recreations of tired characters. It's all so pedestrian. So edgy independent films, foreign titles and cult-classics have become my standard fare. Along with a dose of good science fiction or fantasy to punctuate the action.

If you haven't perused the titles at Zeitgeist Films recently, you're missing some great cinema. Nowhere in Africa; James' Journey to Jerusalem; Prom Night in Kansas City and movies about Chomsky, Buckminster Fuller and Ram Dass - Zeitgeist's catalogue is full of unusual treasures.

Since the Bush Administration appears to be considering an attack on Iran, I thought I'd pass along some recommended Iranian (Persian) films. Yes, the "evil doers" make movies just like we do. Well almost. As one might imagine in a conservative theocracy, film makers in Iran are very constrained about the subject matter they are permitted to showcase and the attire, language and behavior of actors involved in their productions. That has led to some pretty creative filmmaking, with titles often featuring lush color and texture - or stark grey half-tones. Persian films tell traditional stories, focus on the hardships of third-world life, or showcase the traditional themes of familial love, hard work and creative problem solving. I found these films to be interesting in my recent exploration of Farsi-language Cinema: Gabbeh, Baran, The color of Paradise and Children of Heaven. All are available in the "Foreign Films" section of NetFlix or from Blockbuster.

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