Daily Archives: September 1, 2020

Packaged Parables (GABBEH & SHE’S SO LOVELY)

From the August 29, 1997  Chicago Reader.  This is one of the 13 pieces selected and translated into Farsi by Saeed Khamoush for the unauthorized collection of some of my Reader pieces that was published in Iran back in 2001, and the only one in that volume relating to Iranian cinema. — J.R.


Rating *** A must see

Directed and written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf

With Shaghayegh Djodat, Abbas Sayahi, Hossein Moharami, and Roghieh Moharami.

She’s So Lovely

Rating *** A must see

Directed by Nick Cassavetes

Written by John Cassavetes

With Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn, John Travolta, Harry Dean Stanton, Debi Mazar, Gena Rowlands, and James Gandolfini.

To put it in simple market terms, Gabbeh packages Iran and She’s So Lovely packages John Cassavetes. Both films succeed admirably in taking on intractable and potentially uncommercial material — at least from the standpoint of mainstream Western audiences — and in making an alluring consumer object out of that encounter. Both take ideological shortcuts to make this alchemy possible, and that limits their artistic and expressive range, though this seems unavoidable given the marketplace barriers they’re bent on overcoming. The problem is in learning how to appreciate them for what they are without losing sight of what they aren’t. Read more