13 January 2017.
A DRAGON ARRIVES! ***1/2 (vo Farsi)
A barren desert, a huge, rusting ship stranded on dry land, and a car driving towards it with an attractive, cool-looking driver in dark glasses and a hat. Then a bare, dark room with the same man and an interrogator. He is telling the tale we are about to witness, about a man banished to that rusting ship, and the mystery of his death.
If the feel is of the 60s, it’s actually Iran under the Shah and his oppressive secret police, the SAVAK.
There’s a Tarantino-like mood to this strange, surrealistic yarn concerning three young men (each one handsomer than the next) who are on a mission to discover the puzzle of the exiled man who was condemned to this southern island on the Persian Gulf.
There are many layers to this gripping, aesthetic thriller by Mani Haghighi. He revels in such stylized stories, like his last enigmatic film, “A Modest Reception”, about a couple on a road trip giving out bundles of money to various individuals on their journey.
This one tells of these three young men; their interrogator; a sleazy SAVAK fellow on the island; and the reclusive islanders with their own rituals and customs. But the connecting thread is the man we never see, the one who lived in that gutted metal ship and wrote many journals on its walls, fell in love with a village girl, and was found hanging in his metallic abode. Stories within stories, even bits of documentary, maybe true or not, haunted burial grounds, Western-like vistas, and the long hand of an oppressive regime.
Is Haghighi recounting this tale to compare it to today’s regime of paranoid mullahs? Or is it another tongue-in-cheek, artistic analysis of the convoluted lives of Iranians – intellectuals suffering under various regimes? Whichever, it is fascinating, puzzling, beautifully acted and filmed by a true artist. This film is showing at Cinélux, Bd. de St-Georges 8, 1205 Geneva.
When Nada returns to Libya she is a stranger in her own country. She takes shelter in the family home in ruins, haunted by her grandfather’s mysterious disappearance during the civil war.
Something happened in this house. Something violent. Nada begins to search for the truth. On the way it could be herself she discovers.
This film opens at Cinélux, Bd. de St-Georges 8, 1205 Geneva, on 28 January at 18:00. Lead actress Golshifteh Farahani will be there for the opening.
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.