The Salesman (Forushande) by Asghar Farhadi

I was already tense during the opening titles of Asghar Farhadi’s latest, The Salesman. Having seen several of his films, I was prepared for something akin to a thriller, or even a pastoral murder mystery, where ordinary domestic mishaps are the catalysts for (or symptoms of) some hefty emotional icebergs about to crack. Farhadi’s narratives,…

Force of Nature: Tabaimo

In paying video homage to a museum’s collected works of Japanese masters, Tabaimo reminds us of how nature and landscape greatly influenced Japanese decorative art, and also reminds us of the power of time-based media like video and animation. In this engaging and provocative series of works, presented at the Seattle Asian Art Museum, art…

Eva Hesse on Film

I vividly recall the first time I saw Eva Hesse’s work. I was in my late teens, home in New York for the summer, and it was Repetition Nineteen at the Museum of Modern Art. But I don’t remember even reading the title card – instead I remember that fluttering in the belly, the open-mouthed…

Women on Wall Street Take Charge

Money Monster (directed by Jodie Foster), is set in one of those shiny financial market TV shows full of exaggerated numbers and practically devoid of facts or pragmatic advice. Its king and money monster is Lee Gates, who faithfully (if cynically) reports on the latest and greatest financial instruments that the common people should invest in. His salesmanship,…

Our Little Sister

Sagami Bay, blue hydrangeas, pale-pink cherry blossoms, freshly-picked plums, freshly-caught seafood, torrential rain, and four very elegant and dignified sisters who are as tough as mountains. In Our Little Sister (from the novel Umimachi Diary), Kore-eda conveys an exquisite but very real world where time, nature, memory, and community both serve as foreground and background to…

Ma ma

In Ma Ma, the lead character, Magda, finds out she has advanced stage breast cancer. Magda, played by Penélope Cruz, is surrounded by males as she goes through chemotherapy, recovery, and illness again, and we see how her ordeal affects them: her philandering ex-husband, Raúl, her new husband, Arturo, her son, Dani, and her doctor…