by Tyler Cowen
on January 21, 2012 at 8:41 pm
in Film |
It’s hard to review this movie without introducing spoilers, I’ll just say I would be surprised if it doesn’t end up as the best movie of the year, if we count it as a 2012 film. One trailer is here, the film is in Farsi with subtitles.
I just hope no one is assassinated over it.
The theocrats may see this as the equivalent of targeting their nuclear scientists.
Also, memo to Andres Serrano: this is what real bravery in art looks like.
I just saw it this afternoon. I didn’t have subtitles but I did have the advantage of my Persian wife doing translation as best she could. Incredible realistic acting even from the young actors.
Acting of Simin actress was a bit week, but the movie is very good indeed.
I’ve been waiting for your review, given your interest in law, Islam, Charles Taylor, and sacred/secular outlooks. Maybe just some observations “under the fold”??
For me, it was one of my best movie experiences ever. I have been pushing friends to see it. Some reviews have been effusive, but I think the praise has not yet been sufficient. I worry it is being neglected because it was on some end-of-year lists for 2011 despite being under very limited release.
I’ll be teaching it in ten days’ time!
And then your commentary embargo will be lifted, I hope! I guess it would fit nicely on a Law and Literature syllabus: blood money, knowledge and culpability, secular/pious scruples regarding perjury, the subtle legal disadvantages of the working-class, etc…
Without giving much away, I’d also just note that it’s a testament to the director’s skill (and to the law’s ability to make society “legible”) that the legal proceedings in the movie so swiftly and naturally clue foreign audiences into the taken-for-granted social facts we need to make sense of their actions. Many rules of conduct for male/female interaction (e.g.) would otherwise have eluded me, at least.
One of the best movies I’ve seen in my lifetime.Must see for Americans, Iranians and other humans. Stunningly real, beautful, sad. Acting amazing. The glimpse of life in contemporary Iran was life changing – we are all so much the same, aren’t we?
Shirlington 7 or Bethesda Row? I prefer the former, though not just because it’s more convenient for me.
Farsi with subtitles? I’m married. This is like recommending Mexico City street food.
And in one line you demolish all of David Brooks’ and Bryan Caplan’s pro-marriage arguments
I dunno. The trailer strongly suggests the shaky cam idiocy has reached Iran.
How is it that foreign language films so consistently get “best lifetime film” etc. accolades from the sophisticates? Going by the relative numbers of English-to-non-English productions this must be a probabilistic miracle. Are English films systematically worse by design?
Or does a foreign film get unconscious exotica brownie points? Or is it the “I’m global” signalling value?
What do you mean by “relative numbers of English-to-non-English productions”? There are probably more Non-english productions than English productions (even counting in Nigerias huge production). The obvious problem in movie reviews and prices is the bias towards English movies in the Anglo world, which simply reflects that for a natural English speaker, the production in English is so vast you get to lazy to look outside (unless you are a serious movie fan) and you do not get accustomed to sub-titles (as people from small language areas are forced to).
There are loads of very bad non-English movies, and no reason that they on average should be better than movies in English. But you can safely assume that when a movie in Farsi makes it through the language barrier and cultural barrier, it is of some quality (I havent seen Separation).
If I had to see 3-600 films per year I’d laud anything which was slightly unusual. Most film critics are jaded orgiasts.
I think the main reason many people avoid subtitled films is that they read too slowly to keep up (if they’re not functionally illiterate altogether). And even for some of the ones who are able to keep up, it’s enough of a strain to make watching the movie less than relaxing and enjoyable.
This is a very large percentage of the population; it’s easy to forget that when you hang out with power readers in blogland all day. If you don’t believe me, try watching a film in Russian with Spanish subtitles (assuming you don’t speak Russian at all and have serviceable but less than fluent Spanish).
Most American-movie consumption overseas is in dubbed versions rather than subtitled, except among bilingual elites. But it’s very jarring to see lips moving out of sync to sound unless you’ve accepted that as normal since childhood, so dubbed foreign films just never caught on over here. Over here, we’re so fussy that even lip movements in animated films are synced carefully to voice: when Mike Myers decided to change Shrek’s accent in mid-production, they threw away some already-completed CGI and started re-rendering.
I think it’s this uncanny valley effect, rather than laziness or bias against foreign movies, that accounts for the disparity and the one-way cultural influence.
Not sure it’s the best film of the year as I don’t see many new films. But I liked it enough that from now on if you recommend a film I’ll go see it.
Especially recommended for anyone who has children and who is contemplating separation or divorce. (Hint: don’t put your kids in the middle, and don’t make them “choose sides”. Very unfair.)
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