Monday, February 12, 2018

Iran confidential! Ali Soozandeh's animated TEHRAN TABOO serves up his birth country's hypocrisy on a rotoscope platter

Whew -- better prepare yourself for things you will not have seen in any Asghar Farhadi film.

The new TEHRAN TABOO, combining gorgeously colored rotoscope animation with the sleaziest of subject matter, begins with a woman giving a cab driver a blow-job while her young son chews gum in the back seat. When the cab driver, mid-b/j, suddenly sees his daughter holding hands with her boyfriend as the young couple walks down the street, he throws a fit. And mom stops sucking just long enough to tell him what a hypocritical asshole he is. Yes, this certainly leaves Disney in the dust -- along with even Ralph Bakshi.

From oral-sex-while-driving, we proceed to the likes of a black-market operation to restore a woman's virginity, a judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Court who sets up that prostitute and her son in a very nice apartment, a loan officer in a bank who makes shady deals, a kind of Dubai sex trade offering Iranian virgins, abortions, whoring and lots more (or less, depending on your viewpoint).

The director and writer here, making his U.S. theatrical debut with this film, is Ali Soozandeh, shown at right, and -- if he lives through the death threats sure to arise in Arab countries because of the content of his film -- I would think that we'll be hearing from him again very soon.

It will come as little surprise that Mr. Soozandeh has been living in exile in Germany since he was 25 (he turns 48 this year), and though it has taken him awhile to give us this unusual film, TrustMovies would say it has been worth the wait. Although it may seen initially that the filmmaker is "piling it on a bit thick," it soon becomes clear that it is the stupid, nasty and beyond-the-pale hypocrisy of the Islamic state and its irredeemable patriarchy, especially where matters sexual are concerned, that Soozandeh has pilloried so very well.

All these events going on are connected through the handful of characters we meet and grow to understand if not love -- from the mute son of that prostitute (above, center) and the rather sweet young man (below, left) who (on ectasy) has taken the virginity of a girl he's only just met... that bank officer and his wife, mother and diabetic dad, all of whom begin acting as baby-sitters to the young boy (his mom has told them she works night at a local hospital) and even the sleazy judge himself (below, left), who handle divorces in his own inimitable manner.

As complicated, awful and perverse as life gets for these people, instead of blaming the individual, you will probably come to feel the strongest revulsion for the social/cultural/political set-up that has spawned the lives they lead.

As connections are made and the plot keeps unfurling into greater and more terrible circumstances,  most of what we've come to think we know and believe about these people is called into question. And if the black cat and its litter of kitten may initially strike you are a little too sentimental, wait a bit. Everything comes homes to roost here.

Watching this film and then thinking back to the more veiled and subtle work of that fine filmmaker Farhadi, you can better understand why so much of what he gives us must be tamped down to pass the censors. For something more "unvarnished," take a look at Tehran Taboo and be grateful that, for now at least (until the election cycle, perhaps), we here in the USA must only put up with those idiotic and venal Republicans and their unstable moron of a leader, Donald Trump.

From Kino Lorber, in Persian with English subtitles, and running 96 minutes, this unusual piece of animation has its U.S. theatrical premiere this coming Wednesday, February 14 (yes, it's a Valentine's Day delight), at New York City 's Film Forum before hitting another dozen or more cities around the country. To see all currently scheduled playdates and venues, click here and then scroll down.

No comments: