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,…

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (2015)

“Relax, he’s one of us,” says Omid, the entrepreneurial DVD bootlegger, after the customer realizes that Omid’s taxi driver is the famous Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Omid reassures his customer that though Mr. Panahi is himself a filmmaker, he doesn’t object to his business. In a very funny twist, the customer turns out to be…

Tales and more Wild Tales

Like a collection of short stories, Wild Tales and Tales each present a unified narrative and point of view, despite form. The first, by Argentinian director Damián Szifron, includes six defined and unique stories, each with their own characters, tone, timing, and importantly a particular setting, which like a time bomb, counts down to some…

SFIFF56: The Last Step (Peleh Akhar) by Ali Mosaffa

A sophisticated piece of storytelling: Mr. Mosaffa shows us how it’s done. He has a sure hand, confident in his non-linear storytelling and in the rich emotional world his actors create. This film is a sophisticated meditation on the stories we tell ourselves and each other, whether to protect, to deceive, to harm, or to…

SFIFF: Chicken with Plums (2011)

In one of the film’s key and poignant scenes, a dying woman has her last cigarette on her deathbed. She takes a long, luxurious drag and exhales a dense plume of smoke – the smoke escapes through the window and travels across the city of Tehran. Cut: to her grave, where the ball of smoke…