Posted by findjoshgo on:
Walking into Ashkan, The Charmed Ring And Other Stories, I only knew of it as an artist’s journey, coming out of it I knew only a little more, however I did walk out with a lot of questions. That is always a bonus for me because so many films I walk out with nothing more. I may even know a little less. So to have even had some questions and answers bestowed upon the audience is a feat.
To do justice to Ashkan and really wring out the key elements of the film I sat down with two friends of mine at the Starbuck’s on lower State and secretly taped an impromptu review of the film. What I was able to ascertain from my stealth interrogations was that the subtle sense of humor really worked in this film. Whilst it moved quite slowly for the first half, the pace picked up as linear time was turned Chop Suey. Perspectives and time frames trunkated and changed around Iranian life affairs that twisted and interweaved to enable, what originally appeared to be a black and white story, morph into a tangled web of grey.
What comes out from these films, especially from countries typically shunned by the West, is a rare insight into the lives and creations of these cultures. It would have been nice to speak to the director and find out about, for instance, the roles of women in Tehran and in the film, who were portrayed in all roles of life from the check out chick to the medical student. It would have also been interesting to find out about the legalities of filming in a country that is typically considered quite regimented in its expression. Finally this film almost appeared to be shot to hide the aesthetics of this rich and beautiful culture, why instead did it focus on the drab and modern urban elements of this exotic country?
Whilst Ashkan left me reasonably entertained, I did have to work to keep my interest. It presented at times interesting translations in the subtitles and had a pace that left me more concerned with how comfortable I was with my seating position than I was with what was going on in the film. In saying all this Ashkan is Shahram Mokri’s debut film and if you can watch art house you will find this film reasonably engaging. Ashkan ties together a pulpish mix of mishaps that shows how the butterfly effect of fate has its hand in the affair of the darker and quirky side of all our lives, whether in Iran or America. In this film no-one is free from fate!