The August heat and closed galleries preclude the wandering eye of art and the aging body lies in bed in front of the TV or seeks coolness at the multiplex. But the critical brain never rests.
LinkTV’s incredible film series, "Bridge to Iran," just debuted with Nahid Rezai’s mesmerizing Dream of Silk, in which the filmmaker returns to her girls’ high school in Teheran after 25 years and finds, like nostalgic returnees everywhere, that nothing has changed and everything has changed.
Rezai finds her old wooden desk and hears the same stern announcements from the principal, proclaiming, among other things, "paradise on earth," over the loudspeaker. The girls who are her interlocutors are brilliant enthusiasts of the future, the blue wrap of their required dress exposing their uniformly gorgeous faces as shores of light.
Complaints about regimentation, lack of free speech and "the big bellies" of their elders cannot dampen their cerebral desires, which generally focus on achieving a brilliant career so that the girls can attract a mate (for the restrictions on women simply amplify this chauvinistic reflex). The counterpoint of infinite possibilities meeting the wall of bureaucracy, theology and oppression forces one to flag the oppressive forces right here at home: the insurance bureaucracies which dump giant gobbles of forms on a cancer patient or someone simply trying to get a job. Is the freedom of these girls, equally fearful of a U.S. bomb or the lashes of a mullah, merely a teenage dream or some better beginning? Rezai’s film will gloriously haunt you into the bright night.
As for the multiplex, early arrivals at the Regal chain of cinemas are now encouraged, after watching a long chain of commecials, to watch a summary of those commercials right afterwards that encourages viewers to come back to the theater early the next time to watch more commercials! Currently in the Regal rotation is a Gap Ad featuring photographer Anna Gaskell, channeling Claire Danes while modeling "1969 Jeans" on a stool. Like all who are sucked into fashionland, Ms. Gaskell manages to say nothing as briefly and vapidly as possible, as her image is subliminally implanted in those sitting in the dark.
500 Days of Summer, the film I went to see, directed by Mike Webb, is that rare creation these days, an adult romance like Roman Holiday or Brief Encounter. Through winning performances by Zooey Deschanel, who was adorable in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was equally adorable in Third Rock from the Sun, the film captures the silly brilliance of a man falling in love and trying to solve the mystery of his beloved, which Zooey’s character telegraphs by simply saying that she "likes" him. Sexists like myself, who have long suspected that the romance gene lies solely in the stupid, irrational male, while the female of the species is a rational scientist of love, will resonate with this small, perfect film. Having been bludgeoned by its concerns for a lifetime, I am nevertheless still dumbly enchanted.
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).