March 6, 2012

"A Separation"

From my movie review in Taki's Magazine:
The Iranian film A Separation, a domestic drama-turned-courtroom mystery, is among the most acclaimed of recent movies. It won a host of film festival awards, the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and a nomination for Best Original Screenplay—a rarity for a subtitled film. This half-million-dollar movie is even turning a profit at the US box office, with revenue approaching $4 million and rising. 
A Separation is a fine film with an exceptional plot. ...  Still, two hours of Persians bickering under fluorescent lights isn’t a feast for the eyes. The universal and strenuous praise for this admirable but limited middlebrow film is sincere, but it’s amplified by multiple political motivations. 
Were the Oscar voters trying to send a message to Washington by honoring this film? I suspect so. It’s hard to live in LA and take seriously the Washington/Tel Aviv storyline of Iran as the new Nazi Germany. That’s because the Westside is full of Iranians, many of them Jews; yet they make frequent visits home to see their kin. I don’t think Einstein vacationed in Berlin in 1939.

Read the whole thing there.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hope Iran US relations will stabilize once they get the nuke, I dont see why they have to be antagonistic to our interests...except their regime depends on it, but they could find different enemies to focus on.

DanJ said...

There was a fun Iranian movie called "Offside" a few years back. The story is about some Iranian girls trying to sneak into a soccer stadium to watch the game, and they get arrested. It's a good insight into an authoritarian society, as the young people involved, both civilians and officers, all know that the rules are stupid, but must be followed, so they try to get along anyway.

TGGP said...

Pretty good, but I haven't seen enough* of the other Oscar nominated films to know how it compares. A previous Farhadi film "About Elly" (with a lead actress now permanently exiled due to a risque French short) features more surprise and tension, so it might be preferable.

I read a double-review of A Separation and The Hunter and first watched the latter, thinking it would be an action movie. Unfortunately, it wasn't really.

*In fact the only other one I saw was the Muppet movie, and unfortunately nobody in my family was young enough to really enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

"I don’t think Einstein vacationed in Berlin in 1939."

He didn't, but he probably could have. Prior to the war Jews and ethnic minorities did visit, study, and work in Germany. MLK's father even visited Berlin in 1934 for a Baptist conference -- it was here he got the idea to rename him and his son after Martin Luther.

RKU said...

I don’t think Einstein vacationed in Berlin in 1939.

Wasn't Einstein a Zionist? From what I've read here and there, the Zionists back then had extremely good relations with National Socialist Germany, and as late as 1941 were negotiating with the Nazis about formally entering WWII as their allies (they obviously had a common enemy in the British). Admittedly, I've never actually tried to investigate these claims, so I can't really vouch for them...

PublicSphere said...

I'm surprised that this story hasn't found its way to iSteve's "men with gold chains" category:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/nyregion/dozens-said-to-be-arrested-in-health-care-fraud-scheme.html?pagewanted=all

A $250 Million Fraud Scheme Finds a Path to Brighton Beach

This one, like many others, was rooted in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the locus of the city’s Russian-speaking immigrant population, many of whom grew up under a Communist system that bred disdain for the rules and a willingness to cheat to get around them.

David said...

We won't see this on the back of the DVD cover:

"Two hours of Persians bickering under fluorescent lights."

candid_observer said...

This thing with the awards being won for a film like this brings up a subject upon which I've pondered for some time.

Namely, just how much has political correctness infected the awarding of various honors in the past few decades?

My strong impression is that PC has distorted things in recent years far beyond anything known hitherto.

The MacArthur "genius" grants, for obvious example, have virtually been taken over by PC concerns. Even in the relatively hard sciences, the number of awardees who have been either women or URMs has vastly exceeded anything one would predict based on their numbers in the profession.

And the standard book awards likewise seem to have gone in great disproportion to the usual PC suspects, and the usual PC subjects.

And I will say that I have the distinct impression this might hold as well even for the Nobel science prizes, which have been awarded to an unexpectedly large number of women -- as well, perhaps, as what seems like an unusually large number of non-Europeans (not so convinced on this point).

I wonder if there exists anywhere an analysis of such things?

Anonymous said...

To Anon on 3/6/12 at 8:42,

The Iranians have been against since 1979. They have despised our weak will while envying our ability to project strength. A nuke will not make them our good friends or a good neighbor.

We are idiots for allowing them to acquire nuclear weapons. I am not saying that they are an immediate threat to us (although I would not be shocked to find they have contingency plans to use their nukes against us). However, they will screw up the power dynamic in the region all to hell and if you think $4 or $5 a gallon gas is expensive, wait until they have the nuclear stick. We'll be pining for the good old days of $8 a gallon gas and a merely dangerously chaotic situation in the ME.

We can and should encourage whomever has been slowing their nuke program.
TWS

Mr. Anon said...

Anonymous said...

"He didn't, but he probably could have. Prior to the war Jews...........did visit, study, and work in Germany."

Really? Name one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:32 AM, he was already a noisy critic of the Nazis for several years before that. Still I dunno why Sailer would think Einstein, who only had a short youthful connection to Bavaria, would think of "vacationing" in Berlin. Any work within the politicized university system certainly was out of the question. Maybe this Swiss guy is his lazy reference point for "German Jew"

CJ said...

"I don’t think Einstein vacationed in Berlin in 1939."

Well, the Iranians in California are not political refugees, they're economic migrants. If they caused any political trouble back in Iran they'd wind up hanging from cranes. Political trouble could include messing with government-connected businesses, since Iran is a combination of theocracy and mafia.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog, Steve, but A Separation is not middlebrow--it wouldn't end the way it does if it were--and is more deserving of an Oscar than any movie nominated this year.

Marlowe said...

"In 1914, he returned to Germany after being appointed director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics (1914–1932) and a professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, with a special clause in his contract that freed him from most teaching obligations. He became a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. In 1916, Einstein was appointed president of the German Physical Society (1916–1918)."

Taken from Wikipedia although I already knew from other sources that Einstein held a position at the Berlin University.

Anonymous said...

"Two hours of Persians bickering under fluorescent lights."

Scenes from a Culver City pawn shop.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:32 AM, he was already a noisy critic of the Nazis for several years before that. Still I dunno why Sailer would think Einstein, who only had a short youthful connection to Bavaria, would think of "vacationing" in Berlin. Any work within the politicized university system certainly was out of the question. Maybe this Swiss guy is his lazy reference point for "German Jew".

It is your references that appear to be inaccurate. Einstein was born in Ulm and mostly raised in Munich. He later spent nearly two decades in Berlin where he did most of the research that won him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Our strong association of Einstein with Germany is quite justified.

Whiskey said...

No Steve, the message is one of utopian idiocy. Iran wants to control the Gulf to push oil up to $200 a barrel or more. So they can pay off their goon squads. Same as Putin, or the Soviets before them. The Berlin Wall fell because Gorby could not pay his goons enough since oil prices went down, courtesy of the House of Saud pumping like crazy.

And no, Iran is not like Nazi Germany. More like Pakistan -- tribes with nukes. Iran hangs gays, stones women to death for adultery, and a host of other lunatic things that are Dark Ages cruelty and superstition. Iran is profoundly non-Western, in every sense, with nukes. Many Iranian leaders literally do believe the 12th Imam will climb out of his well and cause the end of the world, with Muslims saved. That's the equivalent of say Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama believing in the Rapture or something.

Anonymous said...

"Is Iran’s government piling up a world-threatening nuclear arsenal? Perhaps, but judging from A Separation, it’s having problems merely keeping its courthouses painted."

Iran is a major oil-producing nation. It gets plenty of oil revenue. If they don't have money to paint courthouses it means that the funds are diverted to something else.

Anonymous said...

I don’t think Americans appreciate to which extent the Iranian middle class has become pacifist, SWPL-ish pussies as a consequence of Islamist rule and western cultural influence.

This means ordinary Iranians don’t want war, and that America and even Israel have little to worry about if Iran ever becomes democratic, a big difference with Egypt or Syria.

The problem is that their makes it hard for the reformists to win against the Islamic brutes. Iranians have become too civilized to die in their thousands for freedom like the Syrians.

The tension between the soft, secular Iranian middle class and tough, aggressive lower class Muslims is nicely illustrated in the movie.

/Victarion

Anonymous said...

the Iranians in California are not political refugees, they're economic migrants - hey, it's good to hear the perspective of Arkansas and Wyoming residents on the subject. Actually a sizable contingent of rich pre-1979 exiles has always existed in the Westwood vicinity, southern Orange County too. These guys were pretty talented at capturing public access TV time slots and once in a while suffering a SAVAK-style assassination or bank bombing. It was not a period of many years before the partisans of the shah abruptly arrived in town, in greater quantity, not to mention the ensuing non-aligned human wave. This social division was still quite apparent as recently the 2003 war, with the royalists even doing up their CBS/ClearChannel billboards featuring old Pahlavi in his finery. I can't comment on how deeply they infiltrated the Valley, but if you rely on the self-styled scholar of all Oriental peoples who maintains this blog, the Iranian tribes of L.A. are basically Jewish, somehow. Within the city limits of Beverly Hills that may be accurate. As a matter of mere demographics and common sense not a lot of Iranian Jews are racking up airline miles from trips to the old sod.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

. Iranians have become too civilized to die in their thousands for freedom like the Syrians.

The Syrian Sunni militias strike me as disorganized rabble, half of whom are probably hoping the 'Arab Spring' winds down and they can go back to sneaking wine at house-parties.

Where do you get this impression of Syria? It's not anything I've heard from Syrian friends.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

These guys were pretty talented at capturing public access TV time slots and once in a while suffering a SAVAK-style assassination or bank bombing. It was not a period of many years before the partisans of the shah abruptly arrived in town, in greater quantity, not to mention the ensuing non-aligned human wave. This social division was still quite apparent as recently the 2003 war, with the royalists even doing up their CBS/ClearChannel billboards featuring old Pahlavi in his finery.

Aw man, this just gets better and better. Pick sides in vicious, overseas sectarian fights, then invite the protagonists from both sides over to make some green. What could go wrong?

The sooner your state splits along the Fault and drifts into the Pacific the better.

TGGP said...

I'd recommend that folks read Brown Pundits for some info on what Pakistan is like. Most middle eastern countries lost their Sephardic/Mizrahi jewish population around 1967, Iran still has its. Pakistan expelled most of its Hindus in during partition, and then went further in 1973 when they were regarded as affiliated with the Bengali nationalists (which the Indian government supported militarily). Not content with just ridding itself of non-Muslims, it has since declared the Ahmadiyya to be kaffirs and are in the process of shutting down their places of worship. Shi'ites get bombed or their busses stopped and shot up during holy days. Iran has its own religious intolerance, but its mostly directed at the Ba'hai. Pakistan is virtually in a civil war, with the military hostile to the official civilian government, and islamists frequently attacking the military that covertly supports them. Sure, Iran hangs gays. England used to do the same thing.

BrokenSymmetry said...

Otto Warburg (Nobel in medicine, 1931) who was Jewish spent the entire Nazi period at the KWI in Berlin, I believe he was the Director as well at some point.

Warburg was the worlds authority on cancer, the Warburg effect (where cancer cells preferably "burn" sugar even in the availability of oxygen rather than via the Krebs cycle) has enjoyed a renaissance in the last five years.

Apparently, Warburg was spared because Hitler, who lost his mother to cancer, was terrified of the big "C" and felt having an expert on hand outweighed his usual biases.

Metternich said...

The Arab oil states are terrified of a nuclear Iran. Iran clearly wants a monopoly on Middle East oil. This means domination of their neighbors. The neighbors don't like it. Do you think these Arab states don't understand the Middle East?

And what will a nuke-disciplined oil cartel do to the rest of the world?

Iran's ideology is imperialist. The Israelis think it is all about Israel. I think Israel-hating is a tool to rally the Arabs to Iran's cause. If I'm right, Iran doesn't have to win against Israel, just keep on fighting Israel. This implies the Iranians will keep any war sub-nuclear, but ongoing. And that they will be able to sponsor terrorism more openly. And more effectively. This means that arguments about whether Iranian leaders are "Rational" or are willing to immolate themselves for the cause, are irrelevant.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Iran's ideology is imperialist.

Which foreign countries have they invaded, I mean, other than their immigrants which we clearly have no problem letting in? Do their young people who would make up the bulk of any such army have this fight-and-die desire for the neo-Persian empire? What do you think of the Saudis' multi-billion dollar effort to homogenize global Islam to their fundamentalist ideal? And your shibboleth about a "nuke-disciplined oil cartel" is nonsense. That's not how international trade works. The European imperial powers tried it for years, then they all went broke.

TGGP said...

Doh, I wrote 1973 but it's actually 1971 when Bangladesh became independent.

Iran establishing a monopoly on oil in the region seems rather tough. It could certainly cause everyone a big headache though.