Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Iranian film festival dedicated to honor healthcare workers amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Every year the organization committee of the Resistance International Film Festival (RIFF) questions and explores different aspects of social responsibility and adds new categories to the competition program. This year its definition is expanded to include dealing with the invisible threats such as viruses. A new section called “Defenders of Health” is added to the festival’s program to document and show health workers fighting the COVID-19 and thus sacrificing their lives on the path of protecting society’s health.

This festival for now is the only cinema event dedicating the biggest part of its program to this pandemic, and the organizers hope that it would help to gather different experiences in one place, and also to promote a further documentation of the recent events as it would become crucial evidence for the future generations.

Organizers of the festival announced that filmmakers from the United States, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Britain, France, India, Turkey, Iraq have already submitted more than 300 films to compete in this section of the festival and thus to express their gratitude to the health defenders from all around the world.

Of course, artists with their films covering and narrating any other forms of resistance, for example exploring current situation in Yemen, Myanmar, Palestine, Kashmir, India, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and other places, opposing colonialism, dealing with the outcomes of capitalism, standing against imperialism and questioning dominant representations in public media, etc. are also more than welcome to participate in the competition.

Iranian cinema is highly held among the professionals of this field and all admit that it constitutes an important part of the world’s cinema. International film festivals held in Iran help to bring together different cinematic traditions and provide an opportunity to get to know them and to learn from them.

RIFF’s carefully curated program as well has earned this festival recognition from viewers and industry professionals alike. American filmmakers such as Michael Moore, Oliver Stone as well as many other artists from more than 100 different countries have participated with their documentaries and films in this festival. Also, many renowned international guests and exceptional filmmakers have come directly to present their films and interact with viewers, including, David Barsamian, Scott Frank, Rafael Lara, Darnell Stephen Summers, Yvonne Anne Ridley, Jasmin Durakovic, Robert Hofferer, Diana Kamal-al Din, Rashed Radwan, Yousef Wehbi, Ahmed Boulane, Basil al-Khatib, Saddam Wahidi Melika, Zairi Alper Akdeniz, Thomas Hayes, Daz Chandler and many others.

This year the deadline for submissions is October 21, 2020 and the event date is scheduled for November 21-27, 2020. Independent filmmakers around the world are welcome to submit documentaries, short and feature, as well as animated films relevant to the festival topics, that will be evaluated by the competitive jury and the best ones will be awarded. Workshops and professional panels related to the topics of the festival will be also organized probably online.

Review: Upstream Color (2013)

This is a somewhat bizarre film that screams “I am an art film” throughout similar to UpstreamColorMelancholia with its 20 minutes of slow-motion at the beginning!

Yes it is an interesting idea: an organism that binds people together so that they experience life in very similar ways. My only criticism is that the film language used to describe this was deliberately painful to understand and comprehend.

On one hand you have a film with poor editing and narrative structure, but if you’re going to show it at Canne you can get away with both of these problems by simply suggesting you meant it that way to break new ground in film making.

This I believe is my problem with a film that could have been so much better, the maker forgot about the audience and just tried to impress their peers. The film’s style is also not very original, Goddard was turning out this sort of image blinking, hard to follow rubbish in Number Two in 1975.


Review: The Returned (2013)

This film is an interesting take on the zombie flick which only hints at the dreaded walkingThe-Returned-2013-Movie-Image dead outbreak throughout. A magic serum has been found for people who have been bitten which makes them “returned” to normality.

The problem develops when supplies of the serum start to run out and people begin to revert back to their original state. People start hoarding serum and cutting each others throats to get their hands on what is left of the dwindling supply.

I have long felt that the zombie flick in contemporary times is a metaphor for how we feel as a society about ice/drug users and the uncontrollably violent way they affect our lives, films like 28 Days Later support this hypothesis.

It is therefore interesting that The Returned suggests throughout that our fear is unfounded and that medical solutions exist, just as they do for people with drug problems. Posing as the more violent the people who are against the “Returned”.

I’m not sure how that stands up in terms of the ice/drug epidemic affecting our society, but this is what makes this film somewhat more important than the other Zombie films in recent years.


Review: The Hunger Games Catching Fire (2013)

I was not overly impressed with the first Hunger Games and this film was about as good. Movies_Hunger_games_catching_fire__hero_is_aiming_046424_Pretty much just a remake of the original (complete with Liam Hemsworth appearing for five minutes, why he gets star billing is beyond me..Miley maybe?)

For reasons not very well explained all of the champions from every zone are forced back into the arena to fight in honour of the 75th centenary of the games.

The film ends setting itself up nicely for a sequel just as the original did, leaving a very open story-line. I have never liked this attitude to a film: they should be complete within themselves. It just looks cheap, this started some time back with The Matrix II and Hollywood films have been plagued with it ever since.

Preview: The Human Race (2013)

A really fascinating piece of Sci Fi that keeps you guessing right up until the very end (and human-race-20121-2the ending is somewhat of a kicker believe me!).

People see a bright white light in the sky and are transported to an old series of warehouses where they must continually race each other. If they deviate from the race track or are lapped twice by any other competitor they die horribly.

Not made on exactly a massive budget, I suspect this one might have been an Indie film but well worth a watch.

Review: Pure (2002)


Mummy with her Medicine

I can just hear the critics on this one “Masterpiece of Cinema” “A defining Film” etc. Very nice for them. Yes it was a very good film I would agree, but it tried just a bit too hard to be a brilliant film.

Pure discusses the affects of heroin on working class families in Britain (mainly living on estates). It asks questions about how the children fare in the whole process while mummy spends her life on the “Medicine”. This it does very well, albeit with a bit too much sympathy for the drug users who should grow up and care for their kids.

Where the film falls down is its unrealistic approach to the ultimate effect the use of drugs has on family units, it tries to suggest that if you just try hard enough everything will work out fine. This despite most children of addicts ending up in care and family units being broken apart.

Keira Knightly has not overwhelmed me in many of her performances since Bend it Like Beckham, in Pure she has redeemed herself with a very believable performance.

Review: Jailbait (2013)


Sara Malakul getting ready to go on voracious lesbian heat or something

There is a video-nasty called Chained Heat which came out in 1983 and starred the all-grown-up Linda Blair trying to shed her child star image (I guess after spinning heads and masturbating with crucifixes in The Exorcist where do you go?!) Essentially it was an exploitation film with lots of nude shower scenes and pseudo sexual violence. The same sort of thing was explored in the English film Scrubbers.

Jailbait is pretty much a remake of the former although it does cover some new ground. The film has lesbian scenes which are quite long and fairly explicit (lots of uncomfortable coughing if you sit and watch it with the family type of thing) . These seem to just happen almost without any “how do you do” as if the whole prison experience in some way instantly turns women into sex-depraved lesbians crazily on heat for each other.

The warden is a complete pervert as in the original, basically swapping fairness for sexual favours. I won’t spoil it for you, but if you have watched the original you won’t be very surprised! Don’t expect any world class production values or acting here, as this is an Asylum production it is distinctly B-grade pretty much like Chained Heat.




Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

I am a big fan of Body Snatchers films and the various remakes and clones, so I guess it isinvasion-of-the-body-snatchers-1956-film-review-shelf-heroes something of a surprise that I had never gotten around to watching the original 1956 version. This is unusual for me and something I have since rectified!

I must say that of all the various films following much the same story this one is my supreme favourite now!  Filmed in Black and White in a time when the Cold War and McCarthyism was rabid, the film takes on a paranoid veneer somewhat missing in the later versions. You can almost feel the “reds under the bed” atmosphere in every scene. Scenes where the whole town swiftly changed from normal small town everybody-going-about-their-business-USA to an alien invasion in an eye blink, somehow worked better than the cities later versions revolved around. There is a brilliant scene where the town is alive and thriving on a Saturday morning, which suddenly changes to a nightmare as trucks full of pods arrive. Seemingly normal people immediately drop everything they are doing…very creepy!

I guess the only thing I did miss was Leonard Nimoy from the eighties version turning the tables on us after he is taken over (Mr Spock what are you doing?) , but we can’t have everything!

Review: Ice Planet (2003)

This was a little gem I watched on Youtube, which was apparently the pilot to a planned iceplanetCanadian TV series that never happened.

A huge spaceship arrives through space and destroys an earth colony. The earthlings set off in an experimental spaceship to a planet deep in space to answer an encrypted message…

Ok, so its decidedly cheap and nasty with not much money being spent on production values, but the acting is first rate, the CGI is not bad and the story is very, very interesting.

At the time of writing you could still watch it here:



Review: American Hustle (2013)

A sometimes confusing but very funny film American Hustle dares to go where no other con american-hustle-posters-sonyartist film goes!

Irving Rosenfeld and his partner Sydney Prosser are minding their own business harmlessly conning people who can not get credit anywhere, when their world is interrupted by the FBI and agent Richie DiMaso.

The FBI offer is simple: work for us or face lots of years in Gaol. What follows is a trail of sting operations that involve Councillors to senators. One of the best things about this film are its outlandish seventies hairstyles and outfits which have to be seen to be believed!