Monday, May 4, 2015

Notebook's Fantasy Double Feature of 2013

NEW: My Name Is Negahdar Jamali and I Make Westerns (Kamran Heidari, Iran)
OLD: Ride Lonesome (Budd Boetticher, 1959)

WHY: In recent years, some of the best films coming out of the most unlikely parts of Iran (this one from Shiraz, the city of great grapes and poets) have rethought cinematic genres in different ways, and, occasionally, have managed to bring to the centre the marginalized, unsung heroes of Cinephilia in the country. It is in such context that My Name Is Negahdar Jamali and I Make Westerns shines; it hilariously recreates many familiar western settings while focusing on the life of a simple, poor worker/farmer who loves making westerns. Heidari’s film shows Negahdar trying to make a new western with local friends and reveals how in the process he loses his house and family and eventually, like a traditional cowboy, is left on his own to vanish into a horizon.  The film, in its dry, hopeless feeling and its landscape of decadence, is much closer to Budd Boetticher than John Ford (whose legendary introductory line has inspired the title of this film). Negahdar is more or less a synthesis of both Boetticher and Randolph Scott. His minimalism and no-budget, semi- experimental films, like a crossover between the poorest of B westerns and Jack Smith, stands out as ultra primitive drafts of Boetticher’s westerns, and, on the other hand, his individualism puts him is the same category as Randolph Scott’s laconic avengers. In Negahdar’s guileless, unsophisticated westerns (that we see within this film), as much as this bittersweet portrait of the man at work, a burning passion for cinema, unprecedented to anything else I’ve seen this year, keeps stunning me.

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