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Robert Koehler

Song of Sparrows

Lonely Songs and Still Lives at UCLA’s Celebration of Iranian Cinema

The late, great and criminally underexhibited Iranian (and later German) filmmaker Sohrab Shahid Saless once commented that, for him, loneliness was what animated his art and the cinema of his 1970s generation. At that time, Saless’ fellow young artists endured the jackboot of the Shah’s regime, which tolerated radical filmmakers......

Hungarian Film Festival L.A.: Don't Read My Lips

The dirty little secret of most of Los Angeles’ small, specialized film festivals and national film showcases is that they are regularly unable or unwilling to show the best work of their particular specialty or region. All of which makes the eighth edition of the Hungarian Film Festival of Los......
Savings and loan: Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill sounds the alarm.; Credit: Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

I.O.U.S.A.: Market Scare

If scary myths are repeated enough, they start to be believed, which is why Wordplay director Patrick Creadon’s scary-seeming I.O.U.S.A. is likely to be taken as fact by a lot of people. Designed as a promotional film to boost a campaign being waged against federal debt by the Peter G......
Petit

Philippe Petit and James Marsh: Men on Wire

Il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace ... Kevin Scanlon (Click to enlarge) Petit, front and center —Georges Jacques Danton The very idea of walking on a high wire strung across the twin tops of the World Trade Center requires a balance between near-madness and supremely......
Wheel of time

Marina Akbar's 10 + 4

Films spawn other films: That law of (cinema) nature drives the fascinating work of Mania Akbari, who has steadily become Iran’s most interesting and exploratory woman director at a time when her country’s regime is obsessed with counter-reform — particularly against women — and when the national cinema in general......
Snowbound: The existentially trapped soldiers of Those Three

Iranian Cinema: End of an Era?

Every national film movement has its peaks and valleys, and it appears that Iranian cinema, having captured the interest and imagination of audiences, critics and film-festival programmers over the past 15 years, is well beyond its peak. It may even be in real decline, judging from the recent offerings on......

Il Grido and the End of Sentimentality

As a somewhat belated way of honoring the late Michelangelo Antonioni, the New Beverly Cinema could have picked no smarter a bill of two of the great Italian filmmaker’s more unjustly overlooked films than Il grido (1957) and the wildly provocative California acid trip Zabriskie Point (1970). Il grido is......

Bill Morrison

It would be a misnomer to define Bill Morrison strictly as a filmmaker interested in exhuming, recovering and redesigning aging and often extremely decayed films maudit. But with the international success of his 2002 feature, Decasia, and widely screened recent shorter works of astonishing beauty, including The Mesmerist (2003) and......
Portrait of a Lady Far Away

Under the Skin of the Country

Although Iranian cinema has managed to survive many world-historical moments — from the overthrow of the Shah to the Islamic revolutions — which would have capsized many a weaker national film culture, it currently faces a new challenge that will truly test its mettle. All seven features in the UCLA......
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