26 October 2018.
KHOOK (Pig) ***1/2 (vo Farsi)
A surrealistic comedy/thriller out of Iran? Is that even possible? Well, it is for actor/director Mani Haghighi who has been breaking the cinematic rules of his country in his previous films such as the intriguing “Modest Reception” or “A Dragon Arrives!”.
After having often mixed documentary and fiction with great effect, Haghighi has gone full throttle for black comedy this time, but in brilliant colors à la Almodovar. The tale is of a tormented movie director (Hasan Majuni), a sort of overweight mama’s boy who is prohibited to make films under the strict rules of the Islamic regime. His favorite actress (Iran’s top star, Leila Hatami) is going to film with another director, his wife and daughter are tired of his crazy moods, and he is frustrated with making only TV commercials.
But the worst blow is a serial killer who is decapitating top movie directors, carving PIG on their foreheads, and completely ignoring our chubby artist. Isn’t he good enough to be in the ranks of the martyred intelligencia?!
With hilarious scenes of funerals (including actual artists of the Iranian cinema world), wildly opulent parties, tennis matches, and his tortured dream sequences, Haghighi and his incongruous star will capture your heart in this delicious ride satirizing the hangups and insecurities of the artistic milieu.
LE JEU ***1/2 (vo French)
Great premise – a casual dinner party of close friends. The guys have known each other since school days, the girls get along fine. Three couples, plus one sweet, lone fellow whose new girlfriend couldn’t make it due to an illness. A few hiccups within each couple, but nothing too serious.
Since there are some cell calls during the conversations and certain suspicions are aroused, the hostess (Berenice Bejo) suggests a game. Everyone should put their phones in the middle of the dining table, and any incoming calls or messages must be shared by all. Sounds innocent enough, but oh lord…one should not open up Pandora’s box! In a nutshell, slowly but surely, all hell breaks loose – over dirty pictures, clandestine affairs, homosexuality…
This film by Fred Cavaye is an incisive dissection of today’s addiction to cell phones, and the little, miserable secrets we all have. The French excel at innovative ideas for scenarios that often end up being bought and redone in other countries (including dismal remakes by Hollywood). Here is one of the bright ones, as was their other outstanding huit-clos, “Le Prenom”, which has just been redone in a German version.
Run to this one – it will both entertain you and shake you.
And this week’s don’t-bother list:
FAHRENHEIT 11/9 *1/2
CHRISTOPHER ROBIN *
LEAVE NO TRACE **
LE GRAND BAIN *1/2 (vo French)
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.