Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

This Is Not a Film. It is a legend passed around by cinephiles, of how Jafar Panahi, the director of several great, politically incendiary Iranian films (including The Circle and Offside), having been arrested by the government and forbidden from making any movies for 20 years, in addition to a six-year prison sentence, was able […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/18 & 10/20 & 10/22World premiere: 14 June, 2012, Israel If you have ever heard of the Israeli comedy trio Gashash, you’re one up on me, both as a student of important cultural touchstones throughout the world, and as concerns Shemi Zarhin’s hugely successful film The World Is Funny – recipient of […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/17 & 10/20 & 10/21 World premiere: 26 September, 2012, San Sebastian International Film Festival If you look at at the normal sources – IMDb, Wikipedia – you’ll find (at least as of this writing) that Rhino Season is described as an Iranian film, which is an incredibly, specifically wrong statement. Rhino […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/16 & 10/17 & 10/20WORLD PREMIERE One of the beautiful things about internationally-minded film festivals is that provide a window into unfamiliar cultures, by bringing to one’s attention the smaller sort of foreign film than the kind likely to get a widespread international release; and in so doing, reveal that the prestigious […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/17 & 10/18World premiere: 11 February, 2012, Berlin International Film Festival It appears, sometimes, that the Israeli film industry exists almost solely for Jewish directors to make incredibly serious, politically-minded movies about how their government needless abuses the Palestinian and other Arab citizens of that country, and years of variations […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/13 & 10/14 & 10/21World premiere: 7 September, 2012, Toronto International Film Festival 2011’s Weekend is a great film. A bracing film. A film that I’d recommend to everybody, gay or straight, interested in seeing two men navigate a single difficult romantic entanglement that arises in part from the assumptions they make […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/13 & 10/14 & 10/16World premiere: 1 September, 2012, Venice Film Festival The January, 2011, protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, resulting in a revolution that forced President Hosni Mubarak from power, were perhaps the most significant event of that calendar year to happen anywhere in the world; though it will undoubtedly take […]

The easiest, and indeed most accurate, way to describe Footnote would make it sound like an absolute chore: an Israeli family dramedy about a father and son pair of feuding Talmudic scholars, recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar. If you are anything like me, the only word in that description that was […]

Typically, a movie gets just one opening gambit, and most are too scared to take the opportunity. Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation gets two, and it makes both of them count: first, we see passports being photocopied, from a perspective inside the copier, one after the other, a different one every time, without anyone ever coming […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13 & 10/15 World premiere: 14 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival There have been many films about the confounded lot of women in contemporary Iran (and given how incredibly shitty that lot seems to be, it’s not the sort of thing I feel compelled to complain about), and on that […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/13 & 10/15 & 10/16 World premiere: 12 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival If I were to lay out the plot of The Slut all nice and simple, it would sound like Israel is now in the business of exporting its pornography: there’s a small farming community out by nowhere, where 35-year-old […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/9 & 10/10 & 10/12World premiere: 12 December, 2010, Dubai International Film Festival It’s awfully easy for a parochial American to have a haughty attitude about Muslim majority countries’ treatment of women; it’s even easier when filmmakers from those countries come out with blistering films that expose in heartwrenching detail just how […]