Tuesday, February 17, 2015
A Cube of Sugar (orig. Ye Habe Grand) 
TakeOneCFF (M. O'Brien) review
Variety (R. Scheib) review
A Cube of Sugar (orig. Ye Habe Grand)  [IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]* (directed and co-written by Reza Mirkarimi [IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]* along with Mohammad Reza Gohari [IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]*), set in a random provincial town in contemporary Iran, is a lovely / gentle film about preparations for a wedding for a BELOVED (if perhaps previously somewhat taken for granted) daughter/niece/sister/aunt of a fairly large Iranian family who had "grown up" (without anybody particularly noticing...) and was now _finally_ getting married.
Director Reza Mirkarimi's [IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]* most recent film Today (orig. Emrouz)  IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]* played recently at the 25th Annual Festival of Films from Iran at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago. Since neither of that film's two screenings at the Festival proved particularly convenient for me, I decided to view / review one (or two) of his previous films instead.
These previous films can be found both LEGITIMATELY and, even better, FOR FREE on the IMVBox website which is something of a database for contemporary Iranian films. One does need to create an free account but it is truly free with no creepy/crooked requests for credit card, bank or other identity / financial information. All one has to put up with is the film pausing every 20-30 minutes-or-so for "15-30 second commercial breaks" ;-).
So in lieu of the film that played at the festival (and perhaps will become available online later) I've decided to view / review this one instead.
Why bother at all? As I've written elsewhere before, I do so honestly for the sake of "better comprehension among peoples," yes, quite seriously "for the cause of world peace."
I do believe that famed film critic Roger Ebert [en.wikip] (a lifelong Midwesterner/Chicagoan) was absolutely right when he called cinema "an empathy machine," noting that whenever we go to the movies we are invited to enter into the world of a different person, time, place, class, gender or race. I also believe that while travel (and then in a meaningful way -- learning the language, spending some time there to truly learn / experience the culture) is prohibitively expensive / time consuming for the vast majority of people, for the price of a movie, we can, if the film is done well, enter into the world of the film-maker for 2-3 hours and learn a few things about that person's culture / manner of being that we probably never be able to do otherwise.
And honestly for all the foreign policy / political problems we in the West have had with Iran over the past decades (and both sides have their sides of the story), IT WAS A JOY TO VIEW / REVIEW THIS FILM ;-)
As introduced, the film's about the preparations for a wedding. The bride, named Pasandide (played wonderfully by Negar Javaherian [IMDb] [CIN] [IMV] [SC]*), while Iranian from a small/random provincial town there, is one that almost all of us would probably know.
The youngest daughter of a fairly large family, she appears to have been "a good girl" who the family both clearly loved and had also at least partly taken for granted. As she "grew up" (without anybody particularly noticing...) she became the principal caregiver for the older folks in the family, that is, for her mother (played by Soheyla Razavi [IMDb] [IMV] [SC]*) as well as her uncle (played by Saeed Poursamimi [IMDb] [IMV] [SC]*) and aunt (played by Shamsi Fazlollahi [IMDb] [IMV] [SC]*). She herself had clearly become a _beloved aunt_ to her various nieces and nephews. But what then about her own happiness?
Well, she was (perhaps finally) getting married. To whom? Apparently to someone who both she and the family had known when she was growing up but who along with his family had "emigrated to the West" when he was just a child. So one gets the sense that this was at least partly "an arranged marriage." Further since she was getting married to someone who had emigrated, hers was going to be something of a controversial marriage. People were going "to talk" a bit. And yet this was Pasandide, the youngest, BELOVED, sister / daughter / niece of her generation in her family, and she was _finally_ getting married! SO THE WHOLE FAMILY, the religious, the not particularly religious (one of the cousins comes with a TV which he sets up in the shed to "not miss the game" ;-), the stern, the clowns, the cute as a button nieces, the nephews, EVERYBODY, was coming to the wedding. HONESTLY, HOW NICE!
And yes, some of her sisters and cousins, even kinda envied her. Her sister tells her: "Hey, you're gonna be lucky. When your husband acts up, you're gonna be able to call the police, and they're gonna listen to you ..."
And yet, in the midst of the celebrations and preparations a tragedy strikes. What to do now? Does one go on with the wedding (and more to the point, with one's own aspirations / plans) or does one accept things as "meant to be?"
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT, SIMPLY EXCELLENT MOVIE ... and one in which pretty much ALL OF US will know the characters ...
* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.
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