Daily Archives: June 1, 2021

Kiarostami’s SHIRIN: A Fiction

Sorry that the links for this no longer work. — J.R.

As far as I know, the above photograph of Juliette Binoche in Iran doesn’t come from Shirin, the latest feature by Abbas Kiarostami, which just premiered in Venice. And I’m certain that the two photographs of Binoche below, which I’ve found elsewhere on the Internet, doesn’t come from this film, even though Binoche’s trip to Iran was at Kiarostami’s invitation, and she’s generally credited as the “star” of his new film. For one thing, most accounts seem to agree that Binoche doesn’t wear any makeup in Shirin, and she appears to be doing just that in all three of these photographs.

Judging by some early reviews of Shirin–the best of which is probably Ronnie Scheib’s in Variety, and several of which are usefully grouped together by David Hudson in GreenCine Daily–it’s a development and expansion of “Where is My Romeo?”, Kiarostami’s segment in last year’s Chacun Son Cinéma, in which a wide assortment of females are seen responding to an unseen and possibly imaginary film of Romeo and Juliet. And there’s reason to believe that the unseen film apparently being responded to by Binoche and a good many Iranian actresses in Shirin–apparently an adaptation Farrideh Golbou’s poem “Khosrow e Shirin” by Mohammad Rahmanian, with a very elaborate soundtrack–is imaginary as well.… Read more »

A Reduced GIANT

One of my many disappointments in recently reseeing Giant (1956), George Stevens’ blunderbuss effort to preach tolerance to some of the more biased Republicans, is that the once-memorable and semi-audacious use of “The Yellow Rose of Texas” over the final credits — a very significant reprise of a song that plays over a climactic fistfight provoked by anti-Mexican behavior in the movie’s penultimate sequence — is no longer part of the movie on the DVD, presumably because the owners of the song rights demanded too much money. So one of the few facets of this overblown blockbuster that seemed slightly progressive in the mid-50s has been deleted.

Apart from this change, there’s a curious double standard in the way this movie regards prejudice against Mexicans. When it’s displayed throughout much of the film by the Texas patriarch hero, played by Rock Hudson, it may be lamentable and hypocritical but it’s also ultimately forgiveable and redeemable — especially once he rises to the defense of a Mexican family refused service in a diner in the aforementioned fisticuffs. But when the movie’s white-trash villain (James Dean) — a working- class malcontent and crybaby alcoholic who becomes a zillionaire after striking oil on his property — displays the same bias, it’s not only beyond redemption; it even incurs the Wrath of God, Who dramatically whips up a raging thunderstorm to express His indignant rage when this pathetic hick who refuses to stick to his own class also bars Mexicans from attending the festivities at the opening of an airport.… Read more »

TROUBLE THE WATER

Here’s the unedited version of a review I wrote for In These Times, published in their September 3, 2008 issue. — J.R.

I can’t quite follow all of the offscreen sound bites preceding the main title of Tia Lessen and Carl Deal’s Trouble the Water. But it’s clear from the media voices I can transcribe that they concisely present this documentary’s agenda — at the same time we see the intertitle “September 14th 2005/Central Louisiana” appear onscreen and then get our first glimpses of some of the people who’ll shortly become this documentary’s central characters, seated around a picnic table.

Two of the offscreen voices come from George W. Bush; the others all sound like they come from newscasters or interviewees:

1.… Read more »