I want to apologize for the swear words that I used in one of my previous posts. It wasn’t anything personal and it was more a frustration on the way people were complaining about the shouting of the kid in The Runner than coming up with more coherent arguments. It wasn’t a direct personal attack on anyone either. I usually never use swear words in my posts and I will make sure this doesn’t happen again.
You treat a film on its own merit and not by whether its better or worse than its predecessors.
Why do you do this? It seems as arbitrary as comparing every film to five and only five films. It’s only relatively recently that cinema has become so disperse that everything doesn’t influence every other thing. Those influences have to be a part of a reception of a film, as they informed so much of it.
while my tastes may be “idiosyncratic,” my knowledge of film history and The Runner’s place in it are not. That I’m the only one who can place The Runner contextually does not make me idiosyncratic; it makes me most educated.
Haha. OK Jerry, fair enough. I’m not doubting your education or inferring that education and taste have to affect each other.
I have no doubt that The Runner is far from innovative and there are many films out there much better that it has taken from.
Not to single you out. Pretty much everyone here who has anything worth saying has idiosyncratic taste. I know I do for one. It would be pretty boring talking with anyone whose taste consistantly reflected those of the masses.
Ah, how quickly we move from talking about the film to talking about talking about the film!
If there’s one thing you can count on here, it’s that. :)
It was less ‘idiosyncratic tastes’ that caused me to panic than the fact that Jerry’s original critique in one of the early threads suggested 90 minutes of forced sentimentality. Some in this thread do believe this, but for me I never thought that was the case. Even the obvious references to escape by the iconography of planes and boats never seemed forced but used in a suitable way. Interestingly, even though this is my first film from Amir Naderi, he would go on to make a film in 2011 called Cut, which is apparently about a man willingly becoming a human punching bag to feed his cinephilia, continuing a theme of self-determination even in the extreme of circumstances, a theme which is at the centre of The Runner and really drives it.
’And unlike Naderi’s Iranian peers who bring great sociological insights in their films, I learned absolutely nothing about Iranian society here.
I have to disagree with Ari’s view that because a film is Iranian or from another country from your own it has to provide ‘sociological insights’. With any film that comes from another country its culture will always seep into what is on screen, even in genre cinema, but to expect all cinema from Iranian to address the ‘[Iranian] Condition’, as with any continent’s cinema, is in danger of a) turning a nation’s cinema into cultural and political crib notes rather than works that can both have subtexts and also be about the surface images and personal emotion and desires of the director/creator, and b) disregards any universal aspects to the films that can be understood by anyone from any other country. My love from Blackboards, which I will say is a great film, is also because it’s a tale of forced nomads (teachers) determined to find a purpose despite the challenges and hopelessness ahead of them. Where Is My Friend’s Home? by Kiarostami, from one of the last World Cups, was as great as it was because it was more of a universal story of a child doing everything to help a classmate despite the inconveniences of the adult society around him, as was the case with the Hana Makhmalbaf film Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, whose additional subtext of the Afghanistan war could also be seen as how people (specially children) would act in a homeland scarred by any conflict. A Time For Drunken Horses by Bahman Ghobadi is as much a drama as it is a possible telescope into a region of Iran. Kiarostami’s Close-Up felt far more like a tale of identity and the desire to have one, in the context of a man who pretended to be a famous Iranian film director in real life, which anyone could understand than merely a microscope of the country’s society. Why can’t The Runner be read as a universal story of an orphan who tries, even for the most minor of things like a block of ice, to do what he desire and pushes himself until he succeeds, one that could be sympathised with by anyone from any other country and take place in any other country? That the film has a message of determination that is universal is why I think it is a great film in the first place.
Nothing fundamentally wrong with swearing in my opinion, but yeah it’s best to try to think about how you are using them so no one feels like it’s a personal attack.
Alright, some animosity in this discussion but that’s what makes it fun, I’m happy to be the first critic to call Naderi’s film the Iranian Taxi Driver. To eludicate a littler further, they are both films about not running, but walking and taking the middle way. Albeit coming from two totally different cultures. Maybe people were expecting a happy ending?
The Runner was perhaps the first of the post-revolution Iranian films to attract worldwide attention.
well..I just don’t watch films that way. Unless its a remake of a predecessor which I refuse to believe that The Runner is, I am not going to indulge in comparison. Very few films are original anyway. There is always some influence from predecessors either thematic or technical. The idea is to make a film that either pays a tribute to the original or to interpret the same subject differently. In both cases, it can be a rewarding experience as long as its an honest effort.
I see nothing wrong with looking at film comparatively as it is inevitable that even great films are built on the influences of their predecessors. Taxi Driver is not a lesser film because it was influenced by The Searchers. Points of commonality and contrast make both films even more interesting. While I couldn’t find any Taxi Driver in The Runner (sticking with Rocky), if I could be convinced of a connection, I’d think even higher of it.
The boy is in less than ideal situations, but what does he ultimately achieve at the end? An ice pick against a fire storm.
What use is an ice pick against the final judgement.
“I have to disagree with Ari’s view that because a film is Iranian or from another country from your own it has to provide ‘sociological insights’. "
Oh, I certainly didn’t say that a film HAS to provide sociological insights. My points is more that the film’s attempt for “universality” (for film festivals) took away any cultural specificity that it may have had which would have made the film more rewarding for me. Truly great films float effortlessly between the universal and the particular. Plus, I think if you are going to make a film about street children, you should have some sort of sociological vision of the situation.
I often find it strange in these threads that the film with less votes often grabs the bulk of the discussion….. It is not a criticism merely an observation…
Ari – If you felt the film would have been improved if it had more cultural specificity, I can understand now you’ve clarified that point. I think the universal tone of the film was perfect, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.
Kuxa Kanema – I think The Runner was inevitably going to get a lot of discussion as well from the divisive reviews it had before the match. Even more interestingly its also a more linear work getting more discussion too. That’s not a criticism either but also worth pointing out.
Accusations against the “othering” of Iranian cinema criticism aren’t particularly new, but it’s not the oscars! It will be interesting to see how Naderi has spread out into other countries in his later films.
One thing that confused me, any insight into the role of the women in Lust for Gold?
I haven’t watched Lust for Gold just yet, but I wanted to chip in on The Runner discussion – you know, while the iron is still hot. I guess I’ll start by confessing that I know next to nothing about Iran’s cinema and that this is the first Iranian movie I’ve ever watched. It also happens to be my first World Cup film, which is a good omen, I guess, since I liked it. That said, I don’t exactly share the same enthusiasm for The Runner as some of you, my biggest grippe about it being the none-too subtle symbolism, especially in the use of the planes and boats. It didn’t bother me at first, but the film used those more often than I think it should have, which called too much attention to it (we get it). The only other negative aspect I can think of would be the “training montage”, yeah it kind of made me groan too. Aside from that I was enjoying myself – well, enjoy might not be the most appropriate word for a movie about poor kids trying to survive, but I was very invested in it. It’s not ground-breaking or flawless and many movies did better with the “struggling kids” premise, but it is a fine one.
Also, I can’t agree that the film is not sentimental, I think it definitively has some sentimentality, but I also don’t think it wallows in it or anything, I’m quite okay with it.
I’ll watch Lust for Gold tonight and post my thoughts and my vote later on.
As for the role of women in Lust for Gold, premiere partie: there’s definitely an associative lineage within the mother/doyen of the Deadwood bar (Eliza Petrachescu) culled from a trans-gendered reading of Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet; while her daughter’s coquette persona quietly screams and screams and screams within a synthetic admixture of equal parts Julie Christie from McCabe and Mrs. Miller gene-spliced with the assimilative Karen Thimm, provocative screen-stealer to Fassbinder’s meta-filmic romans à clef Petra von Kant, she of hairdo wizardry, who, former to Duhul Aurului’s release, held sway for taking home the Silver Sloat in Koblenz’s “Fascism in Every Home” film festival of ’72. I knew her at Columbia.
No offense intended, especially to Shih Tzu.
And that about sums it up.
Iran (The Runner) 1 – Romania (Lust for Gold) 0
Iran (The Runner) 0 – Romania (Lust for Gold) 1
great comments by everyone! great beginning to the cup
The kids shouting was one of the most interesting aspects of the Runner I thought, what a motivated/honest performance! I loved its neorealist aspects yet this same aspects of course is what is bringing such debate, ‘sentimentality’ etc.
Lust for Gold was a simple, yet intriguing, thesis put perfectly on film.
@Cat, interesting Ballard connection.
some of my favorite images from Lust for Gold
from the Runner
(this whole sequence is incredible)
(ha, welles, chaplin, taxi driver)
I just realized what a bad idea it was to start my last post by admitting The Runner was my first Iranian film, I haven’t seen any movies from half the countries participating in the world cup (hey, I’m still young give me a chance)! Anyway, Lust for Gold, the film is imbued by such a strong aura of mystery that you literally feel without benchmarks, especially in the beginning. And even when the “dust settles”, you never feel quite like you’ve found your way or understand much of what’s going on, so many little things never quite click and leave your mind wondering. Although, while part of it seems intentional, the lame subs didn’t help, hehe (still much better than no subs at all). At first I found all of it a bit frustrating, but frustration became fascination and now I feel like it’s vagueness and mystery work better than concreteness would have. Dug the music too, agree that it possesses a certain emotion, which is good as the film is otherwise very cold and austere. I wish Stone Wedding isn’t just filmed in the same village, but also share some characters, I would love to explore more of this weird little world.
And yeah, wow, that films is a beauty!
“When he was five-years-old, Naderi was orphaned by the death of his mother. He has very few memories of his mother and does not remember his father at all. Left a young street urchin struggling to survive in an impoverished society, Naderi began to tap his well of creativity by finding a variety of ways to support himself: he sold ice water to passersby, was a shoeshine boy and even gathered and sold empty beer bottles from the refuse dumped into the sea by passing ships.”
Not that it changes my reaction to the film but finding out that the Runner is seemingly deeply autobiographical to its maker is interesting. Now I find the film’s disconnect even more jarring.
score is now 11-20 romania
nice screenshots =D
Sorry, BrotherDeacon but how could one not take offence at such vulgar pseudo-criticism, comparisons to Deadwood, Superman, McCabe and Mrs Miller and Fassbinder and a Silver Sloat. Hilarious! I know that was the intention, but what a great parody of haughty, disingenuous and cloy criticism. I guess I laughed! Not that I’m asking for a shrinks opinion, I guess the cinematography was nice, strange music!
Ari. If you contact me in the future, sincerely, something more than ‘that doesn’t make sense’, and insinuating rudeness on my behalf. I’m glad that you’re beginning to understand The Runner is a personal story, next somebody will be calling him Francois Truffaut!
Leaving the question, and this could be dealt with in another thread, did the Iranian auteur Naderi really watch Italian Neo-Realist films at film school? Let’s deal with the hard facts when calling Germany Year Zero it’s progenitor and vague allusions that it’s a pastiche of previous Iranian films.
Naderi’s last film Cut shows a long list of his favorite movies ever (if you want to trace influences).
i would love to see cut to see naderi’s fave films! only i don’t have enough influences myself to be able to attend a film festival to see it :(
“Ari. If you contact me in the future, sincerely, something more than ‘that doesn’t make sense’, and insinuating rudeness on my behalf.”
Huh, I don’t know what you mean by this. I was just curious about your comparison to Taxi Driver which followed a sentence saying comparing the film to Italian neorealism was wrong since it had to do with the Iranian context. So the following sentence comparing it to Taxi Driver appeared as a non-sequitur to me. You explained it and I still don’t see the connection but I understand what you mean now. And, again, I don’t see the film as being very site specific in the way that Scorsese uses New York. As for the film being autobiographical or not, that still doesn’t make a film inherently personal.
Well, you did pick two sentences at the end of a paragraph, Risselada liked them, so thanks for that! I understand the confusion but you might as well have just said it was bullshit!
Let’s look at them both individually.
1) You cannot write off this film as Jerry Johnson did as a copy of Germany Year Zero or any other Italian New Wave.
2) It is more thematically similar to Taxi Driver than it is to Rambo, Slum Dog Millionaire and Spielberg.
Sure, as you suggest there are universal themes, a struggle and redemption, and so it’s not totally site specific, but I do not like this approach in criticism of saying that because neorealism developed in Iran that it must have been to do with watching Italian imports.
Whenever I hear this I slam my fist down on the table because nothing I have read about Iranian New Wave Cinema in books, interviews, or journals, suggests they copied that style, an influence maybe, however, along with a whole host of other culture, situations and experience. It is a too narrow approach.
Only in newspapers have I read it put so bluntly as Jerry Johnson did. Maybe we can find some director quotes where they say they wanted to make an Italian film.
Here is a quote from Jafar Panahi.
The Iranian cinema treats social subjects. Because you’re showing social problems, you want to be more realistic and give the actual, the real aesthetics of the situation. Whatever shows the truth of the society, in a very artistic way — that will find it’s own neorealism. Jafar Panahi. 2001