25 Carat

25-Carat-DVD

Life has not been easy for Kay (Aida Folch). Her only family is her deadbeat Dad, who swings between making dodgy deals and losing any gains through gambling. Amidst it all, she meets a kindred spirit in Abel (Francesc Garrido), a taciturn former boxer and father of a young boy, now making a living as a strong-arm debt collector.

When one of her father’s schemes presents a sudden, high-risk way out of her situation, Kay recruits Abel. Together, they must negotiate a complex web of betrayal, intrigue and corrupt cops if they are to make it out alive – and with the cash.

The world of Spanish suspenser 25 Carat is not a particularly original one. The annals of film around the world are packed with similar tales of gangsters and kidnap and handovers. But while the movie does not look to break any new ground, it hits all the bases and does it well.

The focus on the lead pair of characters means they are well-developed and sympathetic. Kay may pride herself on being tough and independent, but she is desperately lonely. Abel thinks he has everything figured out, only to realise from Kay’s relationship with her Dad his own shortcomings as a parent. Both are damaged individuals fighting to retain some sense of morality. The result is that we, the audience, really care as the situation becomes increasingly complex and dangerous. The tension ratchets up because we want to see these two people find each other and escape.

The camerawork is subtle, but effective, making the most of natural light. The shots are often extremely tight when the lead characters are involved, adding to the sense of intimacy. The violence, when it happens, is shot in matter-of-fact style. It is sudden and messy; there are no choreographed martial arts experts here.

25 Carat is an action-thriller that could come from any country. But it shows that a solid plot with affecting characters still delivers the goods and this is a comfortable cut above average.

25 Carat is available on R4 DVD from Aztec.

A Cat in Paris

Cat-in-Paris

Dino is a black cat leading a double life. During the day, he is the placid domestic pet of a little girl named Zoe, but at night he scales the rooftops with acrobatic burglar Nico as he conducts various daring robberies. Meanwhile, Zoe’s mother – the chief of police – is closing in on notorious gangster Costa, who also happens to be the man who murdered her husband.

It would be easy to describe animated French piece A Cat in Paris as ‘charming’, but it is a label the film more than earns. From the whimsical story concept to the hand-drawn aesthetic of the illustration, this is instantly endearing. The artistry may be deliberately crude, but it is deceptively clever, with the animated foibles of the feline lead character no doubt being extremely familiar to any cat owner.

At a running time of barely over an hour, the film does not outstay its welcome, but it does manage to pack quite a lot in and ticks along rapidly, right up to the climactic rooftop chase to the spires of Notre Dame. The plot is simple enough for children, but has some deeper, more adult concepts – most notably around the mother haunted by traumatic visions of the man who killed her husband…an event that has also left Zoe unwilling to speak. These aspects, combined with some menace from the villains may make this unsuitable for very young children, but otherwise it is a film that certainly earns the “all ages” label.

If there is a flaw in A Cat in Paris, it is that it all feels somewhat lightweight. It is never laugh-out-loud funny, nor tearjerking. It remains an enjoyable and warming watch, but rarely scales any great heights.

If you’re looking for a family film that is a little more offbeat, or even if you just want something heartwarming, A Cat in Paris is just the ticket. Sweet without being saccharine and with enough edge and danger to entertain, this is an animated treat.

Extras

The Madman Entertainment DVD of A Cat in Paris includes the theatrical trailer and both French (with English subtitles) and English language versions of the film. But the main extra feature is a short Behind The Scenes featurette. This focuses mainly on the French voice cast, with disappointingly little attention given to the animation and visuals of the movie.

A Cat in Paris is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

Survive Style 5+

Survive.Style5.

A man with a seemingly unkillable wife. An advertising executive with ideas as bad as they are frequent. Unrequited homosexual love. A husband and father hypnotised into thinking he is a bird. All of these and much more are packed into the madcap Japanese cult hit Survive Style 5+.

The structure is of five interlocking stories, connected by the travels of a hitman from London (Vinnie Jones) and his business partner/translator. His catchphrase is the direct, “What is your function in life?” that he uses on his targets and pretty much anyone else who annoys him. When he is hired to kill a hypnotist (and does so, onstage!), he inadvertently leaves a middle class businessman stuck in the belief that he is a bird. The man’s wife and two children must then deal with life where the man of the house cannot communicate and spends his days on the roof trying to fly.

The most eye-catching of the stories, however, involves a man (Ichi The Killer’s Tadanobu Asano) repeatedly killing his wife (the impossibly gorgeous Reika Hashimoto) for reasons unknown, only to have her return again and again from the grave. Each time, she has new powers and a thirst for vengeance.

Director Gen Sekiguchi juggles these elements with a terrific line in dark humour and a visually dazzling style. Of particular note is the eye-watering production design, which crams a rainbow of bright colours into seemingly every shot. The detail is extraordinary, like an assault on the eyes, but perfectly fits the surreal world the plot plays out in – a world where it is fine for a woman to fire her arms like rocket launchers or for an assassination agency to have framed photos on its walls of the victims it has been hired to kill.

Although not an anthology film, the interlocking stories approach does lead to the flaw common with that type. The individual plots are simple and do not carry sufficient weight in terms of narrative to retain interest. Fortunately, Sekiguchi’s mobile camerawork, superb soundtrack and striking imagery more than make up the difference. And, despite the simplicity of it all, the film manages a gloriously happy ending that would affect even the sternest of hearts.

Frenetic and stylish, Survive Style 5+ plays out like the dictionary definition of a cult film. Energetic, fresh and absolutely impossible to watch without a smile on your face. It may not be high-brow or deep, but Survive Style 5+ is damn fun filmmaking.

Survive Style 5+ is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment

Outrage

Outrage-DVDORDER DVD

Actor/director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano is probably most well known for his string of ultra-violent Yakuza films in the ’90s. Masterpieces like Violent Cop and Sonatine cemented Kitano’s stone-cold demeanor, deadpan humor, and often Zen-like atmospheres into the cannon of must-see Japanese cinema. After those films Takeshi went on to make more lighthearted comedy/drama fare (with the slight exception of his The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi remake), but now, 10 years after his last Yakuza oriented film, Brother, he makes a long-awaited return to the blood-spattered stage with his latest film, Outrage.

Outrage deals with the simmering-until-boiling-point conflicts between (and within) the Iketomo and Murase crime syndicates. It’s a rivalry that involves many complicated angles, but ultimately breaks down to: a long-ago vow made in prison, turf wars over drug territories, and a power struggle for the Boss’s favour. Also coming into play are a corrupt detective, a blackmailed African ambassador, and plenty of superbly choreographed and explicit violence.

Kitano describes the initial development process of Outrage as beginning by envisioning the various ways in which the characters would die, then shaping a story around the deaths. He wanted to make a film with no ambition other than to entertain, and it shows. Gone are the existential idiosyncratic gangsters that populated Beat’s early films and gone are the lingering poetic visuals, leaving only a cold and heartless Yakuza action epic, but a stylish one nonetheless. Which is fine, I’m all for violent Japanese genre flicks, it’s just almost hard to tell this one’s made by Kitano himself, despite his always entertaining grim-faced presence. Continue reading

Elles

Elles-DVDThis French/Polish erotic drama centers around an investigative journalist writing an article on student prostitution for Elle magazine.

Juliette Binoche coldly portrays Anne: mother, housewife and work-obsessed journalist. In this “day-in-the-life-of” she is nearing the completion of her piece focusing on two university students working as part-time prostitutes to help pay their way through school. As she goes about her daily routine, preparing a meal for her husband’s boss that evening and putting the finishing touches on her article, she continually flashes back to her interview sessions with the girls.

Both are from vastly different backgrounds. Lola is French middle-class with a loving family, Alicja (Joanna Kulig, who was actually featured on the cover of Polish Elle mag this year) is a Polish immigrant with nothing to fall back on but her body for currency. As they tell their tales of various encounters with clients with seeming indifference we are treated to often explicit reenactments, perhaps occurring in Anne’s imagination. At first she is taken back by how nonchalant these young girls are about selling themselves to married men twice their age, but slowly she comes around to their world-view and begins to question her own values and morals.

The roles and stories of the prostitutes are partially based on the testimonies of legitimate hookers director Malgorzata Szumowska met and interviewed as background for the film. Her fantastic visual use of mirrors in various scenes perfectly illustrates the double life/split personality employed by all the characters within.

Overall, the film is fairly slow-paced and uneventful but it’s Binoche who holds it all together with her usual finesse; witnessing her character of Anne gradually slip into sexual erraticism and emotional turmoil is indeed a trip worth taking.

Recommended viewing for fans of heavy arthouse fare à la Michael Haneke.

Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

The Killing [Volumes One and Two]

KillingWho killed Nanna Birk Larsen?

In the vein of Born to Kill (Laurie Palmer) and Twin Peaks (Laura Palmer), a girl – Nanna Birk Larsen- has been murdered and the duration of this series focuses on unravelling the hugely complex case of Nana’s murder.

Nanna Birk Larsen, according to friends and family, is an average and happy 19 year old who attends college. One morning she fails to turn up after having stayed the weekend at her friend Lisa’s house. An item of clothing and Theis Birk Larsen’s (Nanna’s father) video store card are found in the woods. There’s no body, no sign of a kill site and no one seems to know anything about her disappearance. Detective Sarah Lund – head of investigations at the Copenhagen homicide department – is leaving Denmark with her son to go and live with her partner in Sweden. On her very last day a call comes in about a missing student and Sarah and her replacement, Jan Meyer, look into the case. The duo constantly come up against lies and inaccurate information and as soon as they think they have the culprit new evidence surfaces and they are back to square one.

Continue reading

The 33D Invader

33-D-Invader

From Man Kei Chin (aka Cash), esteemed director of such classless muck as Sex and Zen 2 and The Forbidden Legend: Sex & Chopsticks I & II, comes this goofy softcore take on The Terminator.

Opening in the year 2046, we meet our heroine Future, a nubile young thing being sent back to the year 2011 by the United Nations in search of a suitable male specimen to impregnate her. You see, due to frequent radiation attacks from the planet Xucker, the majority of the population have been rendered infertile, thus the need for Future’s little trip into time. Unfortunately two alien assassins from Xucker have also been dispatched to halt Future’s mission to save mankind.

The unwitting Future lands in the apartment of three nerdy and horny male university students in present day Hong Kong and proceeds to look for a mate. Numerous fumbly sexcapades ensue with wacky sound effects, sleazy sax, and some Amy Yip references. But with a little help from the trio of hotties next door, she soon succeeds in saving the planet. Yay.

From the above plot description I’m sure most of you can foresee how this film unfolds, but if not, it goes something like this: inane sex scene, comic relief, inane sex scene, comic relief… ad nauseam. The alien assassins are perhaps the best feature, being as they are cactus-cocked hermaphrodites played by JAV idols Akiho Yoshizawa and Taka Kato. These two inflict some ridiculous (gore-free) violence upon the three geeks, including tearing a penis off and tying another in a knot, not to mention the always terrifying Alien Lethal Flower Nipples tactic.

Amusing baddies aside, this is not a particularly interesting Cat III, unless you are either a sex comedy fanatic or a die-hard fan of Sex and Zen-type shenanigans, minus the period trimmings. It seems these films are having a bit of a revival, which is great for the slapstick-inclined sleaze-hounds among us, but personally I find them particularly grating on the nerves.

No extras.

The 33D Invader is available on DVD from Madman.

Livid

Livid-DVD

French writing/directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury made big waves in the horror world in 2007 when they unleashed the visceral simplicity of Inside. Virtually a one-set movie, it was effectively two women and a load of sharp implements doing battle around a house.

Lean, mean and gore-soaked, Inside won acclaim from fans who placed it as a key part of what seemed like a wave of French horror that also included High Tension, Frontier(s) and the brutal philosophy of Martyrs. But, instead, the wave broke. All of the other directors involved went Stateside and turned to English-language films, while things seemed to go quiet for Bustillo and Maury.

And so to 2011, and Livid.

If Inside was the pair keeping things stripped-down, Livid is embracing a whole mess of horror cliches and looking to give them a fresh twist. It is a tactic that comes very close to success. But not quite.

Lucie (Chloe Coulloud) is a young woman trapped by circumstance in a dead-end French village. Her mother (a wordless cameo by Inside alum Beatrice Dalle) committed suicide eight months ago and her father and is bringing in his girlfriend to live with them. Her boyfriend William (Felix Moati) works with his father as a fisherman while his brother Ben (Jeremy Kapone) works for their mother in the local pub.

To try and break out, Lucie takes on a job as a caregiver for the elderly and is shown the ropes by experienced nurse Mrs. Wilson (Catherine Jacob). Amongst the patients is a comatose elderly woman in a gothic mansion rumoured to house some kind of treasure. Together with William and Ben, Lucie decides to break in that night – Hallowe’en night, naturally – to seek out the riches and maybe find a way to escape their collective bleak lives.

Livid is something of a love letter to horror movies. The set up of three young people creeping around a creaky old house on Hallowe’en is textbook stuff. It acknowledges its heritage, too. Ben and William’s bar is named the same as the one in An American Werewolf in London while the bed-ridden old lady is a former dance teacher who has a certificate…from the dance school in Suspiria. At one point, three children appear in Halloween III: Season of the Witch costumes which leads Ben to hum the Silver Shamrock jingle from that underrated film.

The objective is clearly to mix familiar elements up. Livid has a twist on the vampire mythos and creates a dark fairytale vibe throughout that throws up some striking visuals and almost poetic moments.

The pacing is perfect, too. The steady build-up works perfectly, with Coulloud’s Lucie becoming likeable and – more importantly – believable. The tension is subtle, but grows and grows. What IS going on in the house?

Then the reveals start coming. And keep coming. After a terrific first half, the wheels come off in spectacular fashion. The script starts throwing in an array of ideas. Some lead to striking and effective visuals – a floating girl in a blood-soaked tutu, a chamber accessible only by passing through a mirror, a creepy clockwork taxidermy tea party and more – but too many seem half-formed.

Part of the effectiveness of great horror is to keep aspects unexplained and mysterious, but Livid goes too far. Antagonists appear for one scene then are never seen again. Intriguing concepts are left hanging. To top it all, the lead trio start acting in incredibly illogical ways as the plot requires.

Despite these stumbles at the finishing line, Livid is still to be lauded. Like a cross between the brothers Grimm and Dario Argento, this is a stylish, atmospheric piece of filmmaking that only falters under the weight of its own imagination. If only more movies had that flaw.

Disappointingly, this is a bare-bones DVD release, so the only extras on board are some trailers.

Available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

The Raid

The-Raid-DVD

Traditionally, a movie needs certain elements to be considered great. Terrific acting. Strong characters. Superb dialogue. Original plotting. The Raid has none of these. Yet, it is most definitely great. Absolutely great. This is an action film in its purest sense, where it delivers raw thrills and none of the frills.

The scenario is as lean and mean as it gets. A team of 20 heavily-armed police have been sent in to take out a crime lord who is operating from the top level of a dilapidated apartment building populated by criminals and thugs. They assault begins smoothly, with a professional entry and the first four floors are taken with ease. But then the team run into a small boy…

Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans made his feature film debut with 2009’s Merantau, a fairly traditional martial arts film with an Ong Bak-esque plot of a young martial arts expert from a village coming to the decadent big city. The Raid follows up in that it, too, is a showcase for the Indonesian martial art silat, but also in that it brings back the bulk of the cast and crew including leading man Iko Uwais.

The team as a whole has clearly progressed and learnt a lot and The Raid is an adrenaline charge that surges from one hectic fight sequence to the next. The fights are aggressive, brutal and rapid. Guns blaze, machetes swing and feet and fists pummel all and sundry. Bodies are hurled against walls, thrown out of windows and impaled on broken doors. All with dazzling speed and precision.

The Raid is shot hand-held in HD, but unlike so many Hollywood ‘shaky cam’ blockbusters, the geography of every fight remains clear and easy to follow. This is due to some excellent camera choices, such as shooting wide and with a liberal sprinkling of overhead shots to keep the placement of the various protagonists plain at all times. This is not to say the camerawork is boring – far from it. When an invading police officer jumps through a hole in the floor to a thug-infested flat below, the camera follows right along after him in a clever shot involving a harness and two camera operators.

It may happily invoke just about every action cliche there is in its story (even the pregnant girlfriend waiting at home gets a nod), but the fighting is fresh and fantastic. The odd battle may go on a bit long, but that is a miniscule criticism when leveled against the phenomenal excitement and athleticism packed into The Raid. Don’t miss it.

Extras

The main extra on board is a six-part behind-the-scenes doco that covers everything from the exhaustive planning and rehearsal process through production and post. It is rapid-fire, but covers a lot of bases. We see how the sets were built, how the actors were sent to boot camp, the extensive fight choreography and even how the production was unable to afford a real riot van, so they had to customise an old truck…which frequently had to be push started.

Also present is the Q&A session from the film’s premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and a variety of trailers, both for The Raid and other recent martial arts films.

The Raid is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Madman Entertainment.

Cinema Asia

Cine-AsiaCinema Asia is a five part documentary series about Asian film produced for the Discovery channel. Each episode looks into a movie industry of a different country discussing movies made and historical and cultural issues that affect their movie industries. Often a film professor or film critic is used to give their information or opinion.

In 1966 many Chinese movie theaters were shut down due to the Cultural Revolution and only a handful of films could be shown and they had to be revolutionary themed. Film-making didn’t begin again until 1973. Now China’s movie industry in making more movies than ever before and it is currently the third largest movie-making country in the world, however, the number of internationally successful movies is very slim. Most Chinese films never get to the cinema and are shown in movie cafes and this is often due to the Chinese government’s censorship restriction due to subjects like drug addiction and the plight of the working class. People largely stopped going to the cinema in 1993 due to the rise of new media. Piracy is a reason not many Chinese go to the movies these days, one director admits that he wouldn’t have seen half the films he has if there was no piracy. The censorship laws saw a movie called Beijing Bicycle banned because the government felt it portrayed Beijing in a bad light. The present Beijing Olympic generation of directors are now more able to pass the censors.

The best known Chinese director internationally is Zhang Yimou due to Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Earlier Zhang Yimou was experimental and invented cultural practices in his films that didn’t actually exist in China and one movie, The Road Home had the present in black and white and the past in colour. While Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the first Chinese movie to become hugely successful outside of China; the director Ang Lee is Taiwanese so Zhang Yimou’s movie Hero is considered more of a Chinese film, although detractors criticize the liberties it takes with history. The movie caused a rush for Chinese action films to be made and Zhang Yimou brought in people from outside China for House of Flying Daggers. A new generation of Chinese filmmakers rose up after the Tienamen square incident and the filmmakers wanted to concentrate on present life within China. Feng Xiogeng’s A World Without Thieves outsold The Lord Of The Rings in China however it wasn’t successful at all outside of China.

Taiwan’s movie industry has been renowned international since the 1980s and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is the best known movie by a Taiwanese director. During the 1960s and 70s Taiwanese films were among the strongest in Asia, however competition from elsewhere in Asia and later Hollywoood, Taiwanese movies tended not to be popular in Taiwan and were better known overseas. Taiwanese cinema’s biggest competition now is Hollywood but earlier it was the Hong Kong martial arts films in the ’80s. Taiwan lost a lot of movie audience, as their movies were family melodramas that could be seen on TV. The first wave of Taiwan new wave cinema came in 1982 through director Edward Yang’s In Our Time which looked at modern lives in Taiwan which were realistic and sympathetic to social changes. The Taiwanese migrants struggle to survive was portrayed in a movie called The Sandwich Man which contrasted urban and rural values. The relaxation of martial law on Taiwan ended film censorship and subjects once taboo could be taken on and director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s A City Of Sadness covers the February 28 massacre. Hou-Hsiao–hsien moved away from history and explored a modern Taiwan unfamiliar to him in Goodbye South, Goodbye and Millennium Mambo. The director Edward Yang originally went to the United States to study science but eventually studied film and returned to Taiwan to make movies that were received well both locally and internationally.

Ang Lee led the next wave of Taiwanese filmmakers who were less concerned in history and concentrated on ordinary families in Taiwan and the changing values of Taiwanese society. Although Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon had a Taiwanese director, it had very little influence on Taiwanese cinema. Tsai Ming-liang, one of the Taiwanese directors considered a contemporary of Ang Lee is Malaysian. The biggest challenge for Taiwanese movie-makers now is to find a cinema to show their movies in as Hollywood films have stitched up deals with most theaters. Ming-liang Tsai’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn depicts the decline of Taiwanese cinema. His most successful film, The Wayward Cloud, challenged conservative Taiwanese values of sexuality and confused audiences. Columbia Pictures backed the thriller movie Double Vision, which mirrors Hollywood productions although set in Taiwan. Chang Wen-Tang’sSomewhere in the Green Land shows the struggles of Taiwan’s aborigines. Young Taiwanese directors are hoping to make low budget commercial movies to woo local audiences back. The most surprising success was a gay romance called Formula 17 which was made by Three Dots Entertainment who concentrate on genre movies although the company were not able to make a financially successful follow-up. Three Dots Entertainment has co-produced movies with China in order to succeed outside of Taiwan.

India’s cinema is well known as they produce more movies than Hollywood. The Bollywood name and the dislike of the association with Hollywood by the mainstream Indian movie-makers are touched upon briefly. Though the industry is still referred to as Bollywood throughout the episode. Indian movie-makers are moving away from the stereotypical song and dance movies, Foreign (Non-Indian) films only scrape 5 percent of revenue in India. Famous superstars and romantic story-lines are the hallmark of Bollywood cinema. The actors often don’t sing their own songs and there is a separate industry called playback devoted to the soundtracks. There are movies that have song, dance, romance, fantasy and action which last three hours with intermission and the combination is known as masala. An Indian film critic suggests that nothing else matters in India other than cinema and cricket. The traditional women have undergone a makeover in the movies and the traditional wife with the bindi has disappeared with a much more independent minded women stepping forward. India’s film industry employs six million people but just like Hollywood there are still only a select few that make a successful road to stardom. Acting classes teach both dance and stunts are also taught as actors are expected to do their own stunts. Despite the strong presence of traditional Bollywood films there are modern Indian films that are making social comments.

South Korea’s cinema has beaten Hollywood within South Korea with the country producing up to 100 movies a year. The Olympics and the World Cup are considered reasons that South Koreans are now prouder of themselves. In the 1990s Korean cinema got 20 percent of all the local movie takings and a decade later it rose to 50 percent due to the Koreans making blockbuster style movies. Often the themes cover North Korea plotting against the South. The blockbuster Shiri was able to beat Titanic in box office sales. Many Korean movies cover events that could only happen within Korea and genre films are taken and given an Asian twist, which is the reason for the success of their movies locally and internationally. An action thriller, Silmido, was made due to despair of the lack of ideas in Hollywood movies and is based on real events in Korea’s political history. Up till the 1980s it was impossible for filmmakers to use themes questioning authority. Memories of Murder is a movie about a serial killer that focuses on the incompetence of the police rather than murderer. During the 1990s Korea introduced a cinema quota system and local movies had to be screened for at least 146 days a year. The roles of women in movies have started to change from those strictly behaving under the rules of a Confucian society to those with much more independence. Korea makes 50 to 100 films per year and the most successful internationally are violent action films Chan Woon-Pak’s movies put Korea’s film in the international film festival circuit but haven’t been so successful locally. The Pusan film festival went from being poorly attended due to lack of interest in local movies to being sold out due to interest in local movies in just a few years. Korean films now hold the spots that were once held elsewhere in Asia by Hong Kong films. The local quota system is caving due to pressure from America so it will be interesting to see what happens in the near future.

Iran’s movie industry has won the most awards internationally. Often ordinary members of the public win the awards as they often feature rather than professional industries. Due to the country’s prominent Islamic faith movies avoid sexuality and often feature on current issues that affect the country. Children are often the main actors in Iranian movies as the filmmakers are able to make contemporary social commentary that they wouldn’t be able to using adult actors because children can say things that adults cannot and presently fifty percent of the Iranian population are under twenty. Children Of Heaven uses Iran’s poverty as a theme and the main story is about a boy who wants to come third in a race because the prize is a pair of shoes. Kirastami’s movies are described by a film critic as non-genre films and similar to haiku’s because much is unsaid. His former assistant Jafar Panahi has become a director with a similar style with one movie, The Mirror, which has a surprising plot twist with the main young girl getting off a bus and refusing to be filmed anymore. Then the movie takes on the appearance of a documentary although the girl is no longer on the bus.

Iranian movies are compared to Persian carpets due to them being regarded as the highest form of art in Iran. Iran’s history of cinema is inter-weaved with Iran’s revolution with 180 cinemas being burned due to fear of westernization. Before the revolution up to 70 movies were made but after the revolution none were made. The industry was saved by a simple pre-revolution movie about a cow being aired on television. The Ayatollah saw the movie and decided that movies could still be made but they have to adhere to the Islamic code. The fundamentalism only allows women to be portrayed a certain way. Often it is a male actor under a chador and in scenes involving hand touching often two hands of the same sex are used. There is an actress/director who speaks out against the rules involving women in the movies always wearing a chador. Director, Tahmineh Malani took an outspoken feminist point of view in her movie and was arrested and sentenced to death but there were appeals for her release internationally and she still focuses on women’s rights. Also covering women’s issues is male documentary maker, Meldus Osguy who is making a documentary on the reasons Iranian women are having cosmetic surgery. A number of Iranian films are now looking at border issues and cover themes such as war that also involve Pakistan and Iraq. The Iranian film industry has not only survived since the revolution but now flourishes.

The documentaries are not only about the movie industry of each county but the inner workings of the industry and how the county’s history has affected it. Hopefully this fascinating series continues and more Asian countries receive coverage.

No extras.

Available on DVD from Madman Entertainment