Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

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Gabbeh Review


Good
Outside of the work of Abbas Kiarostami, Iranian cinema can be a mixed bag. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh, while heralding plenty of top ten list appearances and four star reviews, is a mixed bag that's really quite typical for that country's filmmaking industry. The images are lush and simply fascinating, while the story is nothing special at all.

A gabbeh is a type of woven rug, and the one in question is a gabbeh owned by an old couple (never named) who treasure it as an heirloom. This gabbeh features a picture of a man and woman riding on a horse, and when the couple goes to wash the rug (which is accomplished by tossing it into a river), the girl sprouts to life. Her story involves the other figure seen on the rug, a man who loved her from afar, for reasons we'll discover as the film plays out.

Continue reading: Gabbeh Review

Kandahar Review


Very Good
Paved with humanistic intentions, Kandahar can't quite see beyond its literal depiction of Afghan horrors. Prolific Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf documents an annihilated nation blown into the stone age by war, more interested in social reform, cultural education, or presenting a bleak travelogue than attaining the pure cinema his contemporary Abbas Kiarostami has been honing for over a decade. (Kiarostami is best known for his haunting suicide parable A Taste of Cherry; his sublime semi-documentary Close-Up features Makhmalbaf himself as a heroic figure/motorcycle driving screen icon.)

As Kiarostami entrenches in esoteric philosophical questions, wrapped in poetic imagery and near-mystical iconography, Makhmalbaf aims for realism (poorly filmed, but on the front lines) and political point-by-point dogma. Kandahar is the culmination of those interests, for better or for worse. As a former Islamic fundamentalist, he's slowly been rebelling against formalistic film technique and even Iran's popular art-house auteurism. In breaking down those conventions, Kandahar seems to be about what's happening in front of the camera more than the operation of the camera itself. A book of photographs may have been just as effective, but Makhmalbaf sticks to what he knows.

Continue reading: Kandahar Review

Mohsen Makhmalbaf

Mohsen Makhmalbaf Quick Links

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