Santuri in Berkeley

My friends and I went to see Dariush Mehrjui's Santuri in Berkeley tonight. I hope I don't offend anyone if I say that I was very disappointed. What is so special about another movie that depicts Iran's social ills? We have seen so much of that over the recent years both in real life and in the movies. I thought the lead actress's performance was not very good, though I thought Radan pulled off his part quite successfully. The role of the father was done very well, too, and of course the homeless drug addicts also delivered a believable account.
Perhaps I am not a fair critic of movies. I believe that cinema is about entertainment. It must be an escape from painful realities of life, which should leave you recreated and entertained in the end. I really dislike movies which make me sad, feeling cheated when the movie is over. In Tehran I once saw a movie, most of which followed some painful experiences I had had in my life. I didn't feel entertained, because I couldn't escape from the realities of my life for the duration of the movie, so I sat there and cried for two hours and the memory of that awful movie continues to haunt me to this day. Even in the genre of "real" and "social consciousness" movies, I enjoyed Offside a lot more than this one. Remember Makhmalbaf's Salam Cinema? It talked about social realities of Iran, but without inflicting pain on the viewer. Those are my kinds of movies. I even liked Bachehaye Aseman and Rang-e-Khoda better than this one.
The music was nice. Ardavan Kamkar, the youngest of the Kamkars Ensemble, had done a good job of bringing excitement to the film through music. Sorry if I am really off the mark here, but I like Kiarostami and Makhmalbaf and Tabrizi movies a lot more, because they provoke thought without too much pain, bringing a much softer approach to real life, occasionally making us laugh.
Have a good evening you all.


Tameshk said...

Nazy Joonam

I did not like Santoori as I said in the previous post. But my reasons are a little different from yours. Santoori, in my analysis, portraits a very cheesy picture of the real socio-political problem.

The problems and hardships of earning a living for artists especially musicians in Iran was a real issue in the first decade after the Islamic revolution, mostly due to religious believes.

But here comes the cheesy part: The majority of our starving singers and musicians were not drug addicts. Perhaps Mehrjui wished to address this issue in the contemporary Iran so Drugs had to be involved, but he failed even in creating a single believable character: so should I believe the characters were symbolic (symbols of young generation in Iran and their disappointments of of the authorities? If Yes Mehrjui fails again. Bahram Baizai's Sag Koshi would be a relatively good example for a symbolic depiction of disappointed educated middle class in Iran after the revolution.

So to me Mehrjui did not delivered neither in portraying the artists' miseries nor in the examples of symbolic society.

Sorry I said too much already.

! said...

خوبی نازی جونم ؟؟
من تهرانم
باز هم رسیدم و باز هم آمدم و باز همه ی همه را خواندم و لذت بردم
راستی من هم از سنتوری اولیش خوشم نیومد ولی بعد بایک دیدی متفاوت دیدم
این فیلم خیلی زیادی از حد مدرنه به نظر من به همین دلیل نمیشه با دید عادی دیدش !!!

Shideh said...

Nazy joon,
I feel the same. In fact Shawhin and a good friend (Hamid) went to see the movie in Berkeley last night as well. Shawhin said that he saw you and wanted to say hello but sadly he lost you afterwards.

I refused to go with them since I knew the story. Somehow Iranian movies, especially those having to do with “etiad”, and particularly the ones that are well made with good acting have a horrible effect on me and haunt me for years. Like you said, some of this has to do with our own personal histories. Unfortunately most Iranian families have a few traumatizing experiences with individuals who fall in this trap (drugs of some kind) and these movies are just another reminder of the bitter reality.

To tell you the truth, I was embarrassed for refusing to go but it made me feel so much better to hear you feel the same way.

khoob o khaash baasheed

Assal said...

I think Santoori was a very important film and I have seen it three times, each time getting more lost within it than the first. I completely disagree with the idea that cinema should be entertaining, because cinema is one of the major forms of expression within every society that touches those in power as well as those in the very trenches of society.

If the problem of drug addiction and a society that ignores it is not addressed in cinema, where else can we see it? Not on the news, because the media doesn't care anymore about the plight of addicts and youth. Not in political debates, because the problem has become so entangled and widespread that no politician would dare suggest that they are going to tackle a solution. Cinema is the last resort to get the message across, and it's an important message that I think Santoori delivers. The message isn't a sad one. Ignoring the story is where the problem arises. If we address it, take into heart and ask questions about finding a solution...then the world might be a little bit of a better place.

The girl stands in the gutter and explains, "You see what this government has done to him...they banned his cds...wouldn't let him travel...and he ended up like this." But, even though the government is f-ed up and that's one message, I enjoyed the over-arching message: No matter how wrong things seem, no matter how your family would rather sweep your addiction under the rug than support your dream of music, no matter how the government is trying to sedate you with drugs...you should resist.

Happiness comes from teaching others the strength of resistance. This movie made my heart feel so big, because I believed Bahram Radan's performance and because the music of Mohsen Chavoshi was made for this film.

I am getting so emotional, I think I will go see it again, gather my thoughts, and share them with you later:)



مسعود said...

سلام نازی خانم
من این فیلم را ندیده ام ولی می فهمم که چه میگویی.فیلم نباید در واقعیت باقی بماند.باید راه را نشان بدهد.حتی اگر نخواهد با چیزی مبارزه کند ولی باید اشاره ای به برون رفت داشته باشد.باید امید بدهد،ولو به اندازه تکان خوردن انگشت آن بچه در فیلم رنگ خدا یا لرزش انگشت پارسا پیروز فر در فیلم ..... شیدا.همین اشاره اندک بیننده را از سکون در واقعیت تلخ می رهاند.فیلم اگر این را نداشته باشد پس چه دارد؟
همیشه امیدوار و رو به آینده

Laleh said...

I should say that I disagree with you on this:). I really enjoyed the movie(story, acting, directing and ofcourse the music, all were great). I understand it is a painful movie and I actually cried in the theater myself, but the thing is there are people out there who really have those problems. I disagree that cinema (art) should be only entertaining. Movies, specially, have wide audiences and they can get the message around easily. It is good to be reminded that people with those kind of problems actually exist. I think the movie well portrayed the life an addict person, and addiction is not only "another one of Iran's social ills" as you said, but it is a world wide problem:).

Nazy said...

Dear All:

Thank you all so much for your energetic and lively dialogue about the film. I am not a film expert and can only relay how I feel about it on a very personal and emotional level. I know it is not terribly sophisticated of me, but I think it beats pretending to be an expert which I'm not! I assume the role of audience to your dialogue, therefore, and keep quiet. Thank you all again.

Nazy said...

Laleh Jan:

Salam and welcome to my blogs! I am honored and excited to receive a comment from you. I understand and respect your viewpoint. Hee Hee, tasleem!

The "realist" genre of books and films have a tendency to "over-affect" me. I remember when I was reading the book, "Sophie's Choice," I was so bereft with pain, that I would hide the book so I wouldn't go read it, because the story was so sad, it was killing me! I finished reading it out of literary respect for William Styron, but was haunted by the story for months if not years. I didn't go to see the movie based on the novel, because I couldn't imagine the pain I would have to feel again.

I know many people are writing "real" stories about life in Iran, and some people are making movies about it. I look at those books and those movies with apprehension, because "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is not all that Iran is all about. I have made it my personal business for the past couple of years to write about an Iran which doesn't show up in the bestsellers some other Iranians write these days. Not that those stories aren't true, but I feel they talk about the empty half, the sad half of Iran and Iranians.

For me, it's just too hard to watch sad movies. It is. People might think that I am the poster girl for "chick-flick" audiences. I resent that a little bit, too, because I love watching great movies which aren't necessarily at the bottom of the "intellectual" ladder of films.

Anyhow, I thank you very vey much for coming to visit and for leaving me a sign. Please come back again soon.

Laleh said...

Nazy Jan,

Salam:). Thank you very much for taking the time and responding to my comment. I have been a long-time reader of your blog:) and have really enjoyed all your posts and learned a lot from reading them. I have always admired your proficiency in describing your feelings and thoughts so clearly in English. Sorry that this was the first time that I had left a comment. Should have done it long time ago, the day I became a fan of your blog and for every one of your posts that I enjoyed reading.

I totally agree with you that the sad part of Iran has been more presented (and being awarded) out side of Iran than its many other good parts. I personally didn’t like the book “Reading Lolita In Tehran”, since I thought it is not representing Iran fairly and is focusing only on the very dark sides of the country at the time and it is a story specifically about Iran and its poeple. But the movie Santoori I thought it was about a life of an addict person, who could have lived anywhere else in the world and have had the same problems that were portrayed in the movie. So I couldn’t relate it to only Iran’s dark side. I looked at it as a good movie well portraying the problems of addiction and the miserable life of an addict person.

Anyway, I am not a movie expert myself, but love watching all kinds of movies. From Foreign ones to those made in Hollywood, from very sad movies to comedy ones and have appreciated many of them. Everybody has his/her own taste and I truly respect that.

Thank you so much for writing and I am looking forward to reading your coming posts:)

Nazy said...

Laleh Joon:

Eidet Mobarak! Thank you for that very articulate comment. Thank you for making yourself known to me. I, too, have seen the plight of addiction in my vicinity in my lifetime. It is so devastating when you are reduced to the level of an "observer" when someone's life is slowly destroyed. So sad.

I agree with you about cinema, and respecting everyone's choices. Sometimes it even pays off when we grudgingly go to see someothing someone else has made us watch! My kids made me watch Matrix and the Lord of The Rings Trilogy, and I never regretted it!

Be good azizam and have a beautiful year.