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Timbuktu :: The Nightmarish Perversion of "Justice"
Timbuktu movingly attests to the human will to resist the terrors and injustices of absolutism. It encapsulates the essential truth of violent extremism: to destroy grace and beauty..
‘HYENAS’ :: Another newly restored Masterpiece!
The Senegalese director Djibril Diop Mambéty's allegory about the destructive effect of global financial powers on society's morality has been newly restored...
When a City Rises :: Sydney Film Festival
One of the most complete accounts of the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests to date. It’s also, at times, an unbearably tense picture which unfolds with urgency of a thriller..
‘In Between Dying’ :: Hilal Baydarov’s seventh film in the last three years
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VENICE 2021 :: Ennio: The Maestro
Ennio is Giuseppe Tornatore’s well-rounded portrait of Ennio Morricone, the most popular and prolific film composer of the 20th century, the one most loved by the international public, a two-time Oscar winner and the author of..
Cinema Regained :: The new restoration of Chess of the Wind
A long-lost, legendary classic of Iranian New Wave cinema, The Chess Game of the Wind, was probably the most internationally celebrated revelation/restoration of 2020..
It's Showtime :: The 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival - San Francisco
Due to the current pandemic situation, the Iranian Film Festival will be VIRTUAL this year, presenting a record-breaking 60 films at its 14th annual event, September 18-19, 2021..
HAUGESUND 2021 :: Charlotte Sieling :: Director of Margrete – Queen of the North :: Interview
The Danish director discusses her film about the monarch that ruled Scandinavia. Ten years in the making and going six centuries back,..
VENICE 2021 :: Awards
Venice’s Golden Lion goes to Happening by Audrey Diwan. Other big European winners of the evening include Paolo Sorrentino, awarded the Jury’s Grand Prize for The Hand of God, and Penélope Cruz who..
Avicii: True Stories :: So wake me up when it's all over
An Icarus style portrait of a sensitive young man who was thrust too readily into the hedonistic world of the international music scene..
Movie Review :: The Macaluso Sisters
There's undeniable beauty and truth to The Macaluso Sisters that cannot be overlooked. Genuinely moving, captivating and, most importantly, grounded in pure, unadulterated humanism..
Samereh Rezaie :: Actress and director
Afghan actress- director Samereh Rezaie talks about how important it is for the international community to continue supporting women and human rights in Afghanistan..
VENICE 2021 :: Orizzonti :: Promises :: Isabelle Huppert
Promises opened the Orizzonti line-up of the 78th Venice Film Festival - follows the current French film trend of broaching topics associated with public governance where..
Margrethe II, Queen of Denmark, hired to design set on new Netflix film
Queen of Denmark is to design the sets for a forthcoming Netflix film adapted from a novel by Karen Blixen, it has been announced..
‘Stillwater’ :: A tale of hard-earned second chances
Stillwater isn't perfect, but its thoughtful approach to intelligent themes -- and strong performances from its leads -- give this timely drama a steadily building power..
Persian Lessons :: Movie Review
Director Vadim Perelman creates a skilfully unfussy period style, avoiding genre cliches to focus on characters who are finely brought to life by an excellent cast..
‘Born a Champion’ :: A love letter to jiu-jitsu
Real-life Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Sean Patrick Flanery (The Boondock Saints) stars as an aging fighter pulled into an underground Dubai tournament..
August 20-28
Karlovy Vary 2021

Michael Caine to receive Crystal Globe at 2021 Karlovy Vary film festival. He will join Johnny Depp and Ethan Hawke at this year’s film festival in Karlovy Vary..
VENICE 2021 Competition
'Parallel Mothers' to open the 78th Venice Film Festival
The Spanish director, Pedro Almodóvar, who claims "It was in Venice, in 1983, that I was reborn as a director" will present his film..
Cannes 2021 :: ‘Titane’ Wins Palme d’Or
Julia Ducournau becomes only the second female director to claim Cannes' top prize. The grand jury prize was awarded to A hero, of Iranian Asghar Farhadi, and for Hyutti No. 6..
‘Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee’
Filmmaker Nanette Burstein tries to unravel the strange behavior of John McAfee, who left his life as a software mogul to become a recluse in the jungles of Belize..
Berlinale 2021 :: Souad :: Movie Review
'Souad' is remarkable not just for its razor- sharp, nonjudgmental insight, but also for the nuanced performances making each character rounded yet ultimately unknowable..
Berlinale 2021
Summer Special highlights

Cinema is back in Berlin! The Berlinale Summer Special opened on June 9 with a red carpet gala. Here are a few snapshots of the event. During the Summer Special from June 9-20..
CANNES 2021 :: ‘Year of the Everlasting Storm’
A sweeping and melancholic first trailer has arrived for Neon’s Secret Cannes Project, “The Year of the Everlasting Storm.” With films by Jafar Panahi, Anthony Chen, Malik Vitthal, ..
A New Book Reveals
Why Frank Sinatra believed Marilyn Monroe was murdered

"I tried to paint the portrait of a man very few people got to know as well as I did, I think he knew someday I'd share the stories he..
BERLINALE 2021 :: Awards :: 13 June :: 2 More Winners
The Berlinale adds two more winners to its list with Alice Diop’s We and Dasha Nekrasova’s The Scary of Sixty-First. The films scored the Awards for the Best Berlinale Documentary..
CANNES 2021
Netflix Declined Cannes Invite

Netflix Declined Invites to Premiere the Palme d'Or winner Jane Campion’s ‘The Power of the Dog’ and Andrew Dominik’s ‘Blonde’. Cannes general delegate Thierry Frémaux revealed..
CANNES 2021 :: 6 - 17 July
The Cannes behemoth is back

16 filmmakers who have already taken part in the competition are battling it out with eight new entrants; 14 Europeans will be vying for Cannes’ coveted top prize..
14th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Film Submissions Open For the 14th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran. To submit your film, please..
‘The Long Excuse’ :: Review
Writer-director Miwa Nishikawa’s somber reflection on the strains of marriage and parenthood is punctuated with beautiful existential undertones. Centered on liars and swindlers — self-deception is the theme of..
Putin: A Russian Spy Story :: TV Series (2020)
An exploration of how Vladimir Putin deployed his knowledge of spy-craft as a politician, and how modern Russia evolved through an acute sense of betrayal, pride and anger..
‘Driveways’ :: Review
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The modest story of a mother, her son and an elderly neighbor feels like a salve right now—and gives Brian Dennehy a deserving swan song. Understated yet powerful..
Spreading Propaganda Through Films and TV
Intelligence agencies in Iran are increasingly using state-funded entertainment productions to spread state propaganda and improve their image among the public..
'Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade' :: Clever and Chilling Anime
In an authoritarian Japan, Fuse, part of an anti-terrorist police brigade, faces an internal enquiry. On a recent operation he hesitated to kill a female terrorist because of her youth..
Golden Globe Winners 2021 ::
'Nomadland' director Chloé Zhao won Best Director, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to take home that award, while the film itself won Best Motion – Picture Drama; Soul, Borat, The Queen's Gambit..
'How Fernando Pessoa Saved Portugal' :: Eugène Green
For years Portugal was the only country in Europe where there was no Coca-Cola. The director discusses his new "mini-film," devoted to the great Portuguese poet, advertising..
Copenhagen 2021 :: Vinterberg's 'Druk' snatches Five Robert Statuettes
In the category, Vinterberg was, among other things, up against himself, as he was also nominated for his role in the film “Riders..
Zindagi Tamasha :: Circus of Life :: 2020
‘It went from love to wanting to kill me.’ Sarmad Khoosat was the darling of Pakistan’s entertainment industry until his new film fell foul of fundamentalists – who called for him..
'No Choice' :: Tokyo 2020
It’s a slippery path up the mountain of human rights. Three good women clash when a determined lawyer takes on the case of a homeless girl against an idealistic doctor in Reza Dormishian’s legal thriller..
'Wife of a Spy' :: An intriguing marital battle
Winner of the best director award at the Venice Film Festival. An absorbing, exotic, well-paced thriller with moments of disconcerting realism and horror. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s..
"Actress's Ears" Put Film Screening in Jeopardy
Panthea Bahram, a famous Iranian actress, whose presence last year with shaved head at the press conference to a movie made news; reacted to the removal of "Killer and..
'Hope Gap' :: A Bracingly Original Drama
There's an unusual calmness to this drama that feels bracingly original. William Nicholson's Hope Gap benefits from a starry cast in the stagey story. Nighy and Bening are as good..
'Killer and Wild' removed from the Fajr Film Festival
A movie with Iranian actress Leila Hatami in the leading role was excluded from a major Film Festival event in Iran due to her 'shaved head and exposed ears' ..
'I WILL CROSS TOMORROW'
Maria is a Greek policewoman, struggling with her money problems, teenage daughter, old mother.. Yussof is a Syrian rebel, on his way out of a war-ridden Syria. Both have killed unwantedly, both feel guilty, but together..
51st Edition Of IFFI 2021
The 51st edition of India’s International Film Festival (IFFI) kick started on 16th January at Goa, which opened with the Indian premier of the movie ‘Another Round’ by Thomas Vinterberg..
'Alone' :: Movie Review
"Alone" is admirably straightforward, exploring tried- and-true archetypes with suspenseful execution. Director John Hyams demonstrates a minimalistic knack for showing and not telling,..
'The Female Voice of Iran' :: Feature documentary 2020
Independent documentary about female singers inside Iran and their deep wish: "I want my voice to be heard." Captivating...beautiful music and stunning..
'The Father' :: Movie Review
Sundance: Florian Zeller's film makes an inexplicably cruel element of the human condition recognizable in a way that only good art can. Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman Inside the Brutal Matrix of Dementia..
‘Money Heist’ :: As smart as it is relentless
Like a criminal who has trapped themselves within a situation in which there’s no simple escape, Money Heist is a riveting, inescapable show with a narrative jackpot at the end of it..
'Vivos' :: Ai Weiwei's Mournful Ode to the Disappeared
Vivos is a documentary feature film by artist and filmmaker Ai Weiwei, portraying the human impact of Mexico’s ongoing crisis of enforced disappearances..
Family Romance, LLC (2020)
Love is a business at Family Romance, a company that rents human stand-ins for any occasion. Founder Yuichi Ishii helps make his clients’ dreams come true. But when the mother of 12-year-old Mahiro hires Ishii to..
'Let Him Go' (2020)
Kevin Costner excels in a gripping neo-western thriller. Let Him Go is a moving and gripping Western with particularly strong performances from Diane Lane as a grieving yet resolute mother and from Lesley Manville as her..
In Memoriam of Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk
In the small pool of filmmakers known for being provocative, Kim Ki-duk was the oddest of ducks. South Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk has died in Latvia aged 59 after contracting..
'The Life Ahead' (2020)
Loren has made it again! She's an absolute Goddess. The characters are colorful and empathetic, and even if the plot is simple, the cast keeps it up. Specially, Sophia Loren.. Sempre adorabile!
'What We Did on Our Holiday'
An exceedingly funny comedy that definitely borders on Black Comedy but still tinkers in the realm of being light hearted. It has a very kind of Outnumbered feel to it in which the kids play their innocence, yet brilliantly..
'Radiograph of a Family'
Iranian director Firouzeh Khosrovani triumphed at IDFA 2020 with her fourth film Radiograph of a Family, winning the main award in the IDFA Competition for Feature Length Documentary and the IDFA Competition for Creative Use of..
'Falling' :: Viggo Mortensen's Directorial Debut
A beautifully controlled drama about age, memory and forgiveness. Often abrasive, occasionally sweet, and sometimes grasping for transcendence, "Falling" doesn't feel like..
'Careless Crime' (2020) :: Movie Review
Iranian director Shahram Mokri, known for his single-shot films and his decided penchant for time-loops, achieves formalistic excellence in his latest effort..
Secrets of the Surface (2020)
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'Another Round' :: Review
Thomas Vinterberg reteams with "The Hunt" star for a darkly comic referendum on booze. Four friends, all high school teachers, test a theory that they will improve their lives by maintaining a constant level of alcohol in..
'There Is No Evil' :: Premiered at the 2020 Berlin Film Fest
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'Tesla' :: Sundance Review
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Documenting the Struggle for Women's Rights in Iran
One of the women featured in this short documentary, Nasrin Sotoudeh is now serving a decades-long sentence in Evin Prison in Iran. Released alongside Jeff Kaufman's..
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TALE OF THE SEA :: Film Review
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'Ordinary Love' :: There is nothing Ordinary about Love
"Ordinary Love" is not a movie solely about cancer. It is a raw, on-screen adaptation of what hundreds of couples experience when their limits are tested - physically, mentally..
13th Annual Iranian Film Festival :: San Francisco
Call For Entries Open for the 13th Annual Iranian Film Festival – San Francisco, the first independent Iranian film festival outside of Iran..
'1982' :: Premiered at TIFF :: 2019
During the 1982 invasion of Lebanon at a private school on the outskirts of Beirut, 11-year-old Wissam tries to tell a classmate about his crush on her..
'The Perfect Candidate' :: Haifaa al-Mansour :: 2019
For Haifaa al-Mansour, it's an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by courageous women like her. A message movie admirable for its subtlety as well as its execution..
'The Truth :: La Vérité' :: 2019
At 76, Catherine Deneuve can still blow all-comers off a cinema screen, and she does exactly that in Hirokazu Kore-eda's Truth, which playfully explores the vexed relationship between..
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Paterson (2016)

“I breathe poetry”
Paterson (2016)

Glenn Kenny, rogerebert.com
December 27, 2016

Paterson adds another refreshingly unvarnished entry to Jim Jarmusch's filmography -- and another outstanding performance to Adam Driver's career credits. --Rotton Tomatoes

The new movie written and directed by Jim Jarmusch is a total fantasy. This in spite of being shot on the streets of the New Jersey city in which it is set, and for which the movie itself and its lead character are named.

It’s as much of a fantasy as Jean Cocteau’s “Orpheus,” another great film about a poet that was at least partially set in the “real” contemporary world. It’s maybe not as much of a fantasy as the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

The movie’s protagonist, played with spectacular attention to detail and what feels like a genuine sense of affinity by Adam Driver, is named Paterson, and he drives a New Jersey Transit bus around the New Jersey city of Paterson, where he also lives.

Paterson, New Jersey was once an industrial center of the United States—a storied manufacturer of silks and textiles—that fell into a kind of ruin by the time this film reviewer moved there, to live, in 1978. It has undergone several not-quite-revivals since that time. Its main fame today is in its being the ostensible subject of an epic modernist American poem by William Carlos Williams, who lived in nearby Rutherford. “[A]nd so to man/to Paterson,” Williams wrote in the Preface to that work, underlining an ambition that was potentially pantheistic.

The Paterson inhabited by Paterson is not a ruin but it is a largely quiet, sometimes haunted-seeming place. Paterson the man (whose first name is not given, or is perhaps nonexistent) is a fellow of routine. For the most part he gets up at the same early hour every morning, summoned by what his wife Laura calls his “silent alarm watch,” a Casio of retro design. Paterson’s marriage is also a little retro (some critics have derided it as retrograde, politically, a claim I find not pertinent). Laura, played by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (who’s in Kiarostami’s “Shirin” and Farhadi’s “About Elly”) is more or less a housewife. She bakes delicious cupcakes, dubious dinner pies, is unfailingly sweet, and decorates the couple’s small house with bold black and white patterns, which also distinguish her cupcakes. She has some whimsical seeming ambitions that Paterson either indulges or helps her with, depending on how you want to look at it. But aside from muse functions, she has little to do with her husband’s daily routine, which, aside from driving a bus, is devoted to poetry.

In his neat notebook Paterson writes, in a neat hand, plain-spoken poems celebrating what the Surrealists called “the marvelous in the everyday.” These poems were actually written by Ron Padgett, a still-living poet with roots in the “New York School” which of course was influenced by Allen Ginsberg and his mentor Williams and whose most famous member was Frank O’Hara.

The plain-spoken poems here bear a slight resemblance to the work of James Schuyler, only minus Schuyler’s anxieties and tortured longings—they seem to come from a place of contemplative contentment. Paterson’s nearly rigid approach to life, love and work, seems deliberately designed to produce that state of being. His other muse is, of course, the Paterson Falls, where he sits on his lunch hour and at other times.

His nemesis is an English bulldog named Marvin, who belongs to the couple but is clearly not crazy about Paterson. Every night, though, Paterson walks the growling, grumbling beast, and leashes him outside a bar. There, Paterson has precisely one beer and talks things over with bartender Doc (Barry Shabaka Henley), discussing Doc’s Paterson Wall of Fame (featuring Lou Costello, Floyd and Jimmy Vivino, and others) and contemplating life and love. Paterson gets food for thought on his bus, too; he overhears a teenage girl explaining Italian anarchist Gaetano Bresci to a fellow student, say, or two construction works discussing (in incredibly polite terms) their potential amorous conquests, which they say they’re too tired or preoccupied to follow through on.

This is the third of Jarmusch’s fictional films in which he concocts a fantasy realm in which he, the image-maker and aesthete, could lead a comfortable and productive existence. In 2009’s “The Limits of Control” he posited the imaginative realm as one in which an individual could not just escape political oppression but also effectively obliterate it. In 2013’s “Only Lovers Left Alive” he explored the state of vampirism as a way of building a realm in which one could stay not just forever young but forever young with fantastic taste. Here he constructs an idyll out of orderliness and a circumscribed mode of engagement. Paterson and Laura have no onscreen social life to speak of (the bake sale for which Laura creates dozens of delicious looking black and white cupcakes is not depicted), and no nosy or imposing family members. Paterson has not published his work, and does not even deign to copy it out of his notebook. And yet there’s a sense of interdependent gears at work here. The man, the bus, the passengers, the bar patrons, all pouring into the poetry.

But if the movie were merely an exercise in Jarmusch’s fancy, it would be a pleasurable thing. It is a meticulously composed movie, shot beautifully by Frederick Elmes; every frame is a beauty. “Paterson” is ultimately more than a whim. It is a movie that actually grows more enigmatic on a second viewing. Asked at one point why he doesn’t carry a smart phone, Paterson responds that it would feel like a leash. And yet he hardly seems a person who would stray. At one point in the movie, Paterson, who maintains a stoic countenance in most circumstances, is forced to intervene before an act of violence is committed. His bearing in the aftermath is odd; he laughs, with a kind of horror. His calm surface disturbed, he reveals he’s fighting something within himself in order to maintain his equanimity. After that, we are shown a photograph of Paterson bearing military medals (the shot is a real picture of Driver during his time in the Marines). The film feels like one in which nothing is happening, but it’s not happening beautifully, and then there finally is a galvanic event that’s both heartbreaking and comical. And what happens after that is moving, and instructive. “I breathe poetry,” a character Paterson meets at the end of the film says to him as they both sit and look at the falls. That is ultimately the very real thing that the movie is about: the conviction that if you can live at least part of your life breathing poetry (and that poetry is not necessarily a verbal thing), you can make your life more worthwhile.


Night Train To Lisbon
Annette Focks


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