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Fish & Cat (2013)
The circles of time! Is it possible to escape?
Director: Shahram Mokri
Thriller
Drama
Mystery

A group of students travel to a remote region to participate in a kite-flying event. Next to their camp by the lakeside, they find a restaurant with cooks that treat the students with suspicion. Bizarre events lead to a complicated situation, from which the students cannot escape.

Fish & Cat (2013)

Wandering, not Wondering

Gosh I live in such rich disappointment. When I encounter someone who naturally understands cinema and who has the potential to affect me, I want him/her to. I want love to follow beauty.

This is an extraordinary film, unique in my experience. It happens in what we think of as real time with no edits. The camera is always on, following someone at eye height. The flow is continuous, yet we encounter many of the same events in this continuum but slightly different each time, never in a way that changes things. Tarkovsky did something like this.

We shift from dialog, often shouted to encounter points far away, to inner narration to ‘direct to us‘ narration.

The first encounter provides an extra loop from the offscreen past that overlaps, and this happens again in the middle, giving us the feeling of a fabric we cannot escape. The setting is a sparse wood, adding to the abstract tone. I was so completely captured, so completely in the control of this filmmaker, that I was prepared to encounter something beyond. Oh how I wanted this. It never came, and in fact the last five minutes are botched. We know something is going to happen but we oddly move from implication to the explicit, followed by an 8 1/2 inspired musical punctuation.

This also was a disappointment though hardly rare. Few filmmakers know how to leave us. This is a young filmmaker, and I will want to see what he learns about life; I fear he may not have much opportunity.

Which brings me to the extra dimension for me. I am an embarrassingly typical US viewer, though I am confident I understand ancient Persian history well. The primary cast here is young Iranians, university students on an outing. Such students play a different role in society than their counterparts in the West, but the major mismatches are much more profound.

That society is no more flawed, even ridiculous than ours, but it is far easier to see from the outside, and loop it back to myself. Small loves of course and small lives as well. Dread that conveys, and human-maintained desperation, not in the least self-aware. It is an added dimension for me, but not enough to save this film.

I almost wish for something less ambitious but which matters. But in all honesty I vacillate.

Posted in 2016

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.

IMDB

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