Last Updated: July 7, 2010By Tags: , ,

By ALI NADERZAD – July 8, 2010

Temperature a comfortable 70 degrees. I’m starting to be recognized by the young women at the vidéothèque counter. “How was your weekend?” etc. I discovered “Three Times” (2005) by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, which is about a love story lived by the same people through three different time periods. The one that’s set in 1905 actually uses intertitles and melodramatic piano playing. Hsiao Hsien’s film is, like many Asian films, lacquered and sleeked to a T. The female protagonist (Shu Qi) is a faultless beauty and scenes are lit almost too perfectly, it’s like sensuality has become de facto, somehow. But I eventually learned to see past all these and admire this film by the same director who recently redid Albert Lamorisse’s “Flight of the red balloon” in 2008.

I can’t remember where but I had recently heard the name Lucian Pintilie, and I haphazardly picked “Next stop, Paradise.” An incredibly jealous guy who is sent off to do his military service comes back to win his girlfriend back—and he’s driving a tank. “Next stop” won the Jury’s Prize at the Mostra in 1998. Pintilie did not get a mention in my Sadoul dictionary, regrettably, although I enjoyed this with the same amount of pleasure as I did an Emir Kusturica film recently. The stories are different but the subcultural contexts are the same. One noteworthy thing about this Romanian director is the fact that all his films have been produced, and sometimes distributed, by Marin Karmitz (he most recently produced “Copie Conforme.”)

I had wanted for some time to see the “Cremaster Cycles” movies. I saw the Matthew Barney exhibit at the Guggenheim many years ago. I remember standing in front of the massive, petroleum jelly-made bar. An imbecile dragging his hand across it left a massive indentation in the bar—that sort of made my day. And I’m a huge fan of “Drawing Restraint.” Today I saw “Cremaster 3, Agnostic Front vs. Murphy’s Law.” There are 5 Cremasters in all, and the related website is still in existence.

The highlight of the day was seeing Jafar Panahi’s “Offside.” Popular iranian cinema of late has been a failure. Nader T. Homayoun’s “Tehran” held great promise but the jokes fell flat and its characters left you indifferent. “Offside” is anything but that, and will fill you with its vitality of what it means to be human, both the good and the bad. A definite must-see for anyone with a pulse.

I started Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Andrei Rublev” but the 205 minute-long Soviet epic will have to be continued again soon.