Will Work for Shoes

Will Work for Shoes

Second Passcomp3


After nearly eight years of writing and posting monthly weblogs, featuring in-depth analysis of the greatest works of world cinema, as well as ten years of writing and directing a handful of original films and contributing time and skills to more than a dozen more, I’ve taken a sabbatical.

You may have found us after attending a film festival, or seeing our films on the web. You might have encountered this website upon searching for serious commentary on international films. The series “Films of Our Enemies,” which has generated interest among many film enthusiasts, worldwide, will likely be continued before the year’s end, but please acquaint yourself with other projects of mine in the meantime.

On the other hand, you may have resurfaced here from our Youtube programming that is dedicated to Dr. Charles Greenleaf Bell’s epic series “Symbolic History Through Sight and Sound.” There are over 160 videos there that attempt to span the entire cultural history of humankind, from the prehistoric to the great beyond, all in one collection.

Then again, there are some of you that have been with us since the nineteen-nineties when we first went online. If you knew us then, you may already know about the multi-award-winning work I’ve done as a display artist throughout the years? Recent creations have been tailored toward the customers of Goler Shoes in Santa Fe, but there was an entire decade previous to this when we were traveling a lot and putting our art in front of a quarter to a half a million consumers per year.

The featured image was taken from a bricolage that I composed using a clothes hanger and a high-heel shoe, evoking not only dry bones of antelope, deer and livestock remains, scattered over the southwest desert, but, of course, Georgia O’Keeffe, whose paintings so fetchingly abstract images from those artifacts in her breathtakingly original way. O’Keeffe is so emblematic of Northern New Mexico that there exists an entire museum dedicated to her in Santa Fe. That’s where Goler Shoes is also headquartered, comprende?

The bricolage from which this image was taken debuted as a Goler Shoes display for the Fall of 2016. I simultaneously oversaw the digital capturer, layout and reproduction of the design (with thanks for the expertise of Steve Zeifman at Rush Creek Editions), for Goler’s print advertisement campaign.

Above is the poster for the billboard. Here is the bricolage in the photograph above in a Goler Shoes’ display window for Fall 2016:


Here is the front window from the same campaign:


The theme for the window display above was “like moth’s to the flame.” It consists of my small collection of cheap, colorful asian insect kites, hovering over a pink Himalayan salt lamp, in front of an exceptionally enchanting original, hand-painted silk scarf that my lady dashed off some 20 years back.

The object is to help Goler sell shoes, but for me it was also a way to acknowledge the plight of the many refugees cast about in search of freedom last year. Along with our marketing pitch, I added a proposal for my clients to consider donating a percentage from the big sale to the Red Cross.

Refugees are a formidable set, reminders of the tenacity of the human race. Facing down considerable hazard, they, the dispossessed, leave everything behind.

The conundrum they’re faced with is sacrifice home or die. Maybe all of us will be faced with it some day.

The third and final Autumn 2016 display, began with a slice of real life. The phrase in the bottom of the window, hand-lettered, on satin ribbon, sheds both literary and figurative light.


“You can try to wrap the world in leather or you can put on some boots.”

Years back I heard someone drop that quote and never forgot it. That black deer hide, I bought from a local skinner. That green globe, is a ceramic planter. The light-grey one next to it, is solid granite, and weighs half-a-hundred pounds.

Those sexy shoes are all stamped Donald Pliner, the store’s biggest brand. The map underneath it all was drawn when Santa Fe was still Old Mexico. It bemoans how, despite how many wars are fought, and refugees are displaced, geo-political boundaries forever drift, like dunes in the wind.



Global cinema illuminates the web of the collective imagination

12-filmI don’t understand the intricacies of empires and dynasties or nations. Government is really no more complicated than, some like coffee others prefer tea. In order to justify their preoccupation with hoarding resources for the benefit of elites, it would appear that unscrupulous leaders are forever sowing distrust and hatred among the very people with whose freedom they are charged, thereby converting them to slaves. If you study history, it would appear all nations need an enemy in order to unite them. Occasionally, some tyrant will behave in some way that proves he truly does need to be brought down, but if such a figure is absent from the world stage, one is manufactured.

What if there were more sustainable ways, not to mention noble means for uniting disparate nations? Imagine the possibility of each individual in society being able to achieve their optimum potential as they envision it, or the mind-blowing prospect of an entire society, indeed, an entire planet in which each individual is working at their optimum level in concert with the whole. Wasn’t that our heart’s dream before we were indoctrinated by history?

In certain quarters of most countries, there exist numerous groups where individuals are functioning at their highest level and doing so in a way that allows the group to thrive, while simultaneously incubating an environment in which what they are doing invites coffee and tea drinkers to cooperate, equitably participate and flourish. These groups are scattered throughout the arts and sciences and include filmmakers. In every country of the world they are doing what was just described. As with all these groups, not all filmmakers and their crews are achieving their highest potential at all times, but the formula for quantum leap is there, whenever we can rise to the occasion.

With the cell phone revolution and the motion picture medium in full flower, instantaneously vast, highly enriched cultural subsidies are now being circulated at fantastic speed throughout humankind. Judging by its bona fide value to the early 21st-century citizen, digital connectivity renders all other institutions outdated and obsolete. More than words or even figures, motion pictures close the communication gap between individuals and nations, immediately and without prejudice. You don’t need money or education to have your baseline intelligence elevated nowadays. The only requirement is to have at least one good eye.

Filmmaking always was and will ever be an open-source medium. The way that cameras have enabled us to play with time is its own triumph for the human race. Motion pictures put human genius into overdrive. Couple it with the internet and our present evolutionary leap becomes like that image of the Millennium Falcon in “Star Wars” blasting in to hyperspace.

Filmmakers are witnessing, documenting and conspiring in a global dimensional shift that will make the Renaissance look like a beansprout in hindsight. It would seem impossible to quantify all of the tectonic shifts in awareness that are taking place this instant. I am confident that the advent of this easily accessed, ever improving tool for multidimensional communication will open up space in our minds for insights that allow us to outrace our present impasse and relegate its numbing inertia to the past.

World Cinema has led a bona fide, triumphant, non-violent revolution for 100 years. The earliest inroads in motion picture distribution grew into what we now relate to as the information superhighway. The language of cinema is a single, universal, multidimensional instrument for connecting humankind. Currently, its technology is being placed into the palms of more than half of the world’s citizens, turning each one into a potential wizard.

Cinema can be used to make enemies or friends, depending on the intent, but it always dissolves boundaries between past and future. Being able to capture and re-purpose the past in the present challenges all former perceptual conventions as it exposes and dissolves subjective molds and reconciles outmoded paradoxes. Compared to how much it will eventually reveal of our potential to heal, we can’t see or feel it very much yet, but we have the remedy for social dysfunctions with which we were once terminally ill.

With the intention of exposing how completely arbitrary the notion of “the enemy” truly is, the movies I’ve chosen for this next series will all be made by movie makers in countries presumed to be my own country’s present day enemies. The fact that it was necessary for me to distinguish past from present day foes, speaks to the faulty logic of violent conflict from the get-go.

Global Cinema illuminates the essential unity of our collective imagination. People are people. That’s what we see on screen. All of our dreams, our demons and secrets are exposed. The vast majority of people on the planet relate to the same basic characters in the same basic plays, and are fundamentally aligned with the same essential morals in all our foundation stories. Our national prejudice gets eclipsed every time we witness how similar our nation’s are when we watch each others’ films.

First in line, from the Russian Federation, “12” (2009) by Academy Award winning director Nikita Mikhalkov. An opening card introduces this film’s straightforward, common sense directive. “Seek the truth not in mundane details of daily life but in the essence of life itself.”

Open the film on sneakered feet descending dark stairs fluidly. Intercut this with titles of men’s names and numerals gaining in value flashing up alongside them from one to twelve. The steadily descending footsteps contrast with the crescendoing series of digits, in stark, edgy graphic grit, assigning the order of names of principle cast in relation to where in the jury they sit.

A simple but brilliantly stylized intro; twelve being such a number that forever courts mystery with there being twelve tribes and twelve disciples, twelve houses of heaven and Zodiac signs, besides beaucoup other permutations which this masterful sequence draws upon. This hooks us way down deep. That and the enticing possibilities behind any dozen men in any scenario when they finally align. This masterful first few minutes proclaim, if these twelve blockheads can agree on one truth, then anybody can.

Twelve is a superior high-quality composite number, according to Wikipedia. It’s also described as an abundant, a superabundant and a sublime one, as well. Twelve is also the kissing number in three dimensions, I hear tell. Swell! Any title with the number in its title evokes the tolling of month and year. Take our present day calendar, for example. I don’t know about you, but my ancestor’s math got hip during the 12th century precisely when Arabic numerals gained their grip. There’s another example of cultural exchange leading to quantum leap.

12th-ccentury mathematicians, 21st-century makers of movies; we’re talking about aligned groups of folks, from all different walks that have paved their way out of mass manipulation while dedicating their efforts to the collective liberation.

Now lets watch the movie “12” and reconvene here in a few weeks to discuss details.

Costs of Conformity

12 Better blade“But what can be done when mercy has a greater force than law?” This question opens the movie “12” (2007) by Nikita Mikhalkov.

In “12,” a dozen middle-aged white men in a grade-school gym debate and pontificate regarding the fate of a Chechen youth. Meanwhile the accused hunkers down in a dim, cold, concrete stronghold.

For the sake of a smooth transition, since we’ve talked at length about Tarkovsky, there is plenty evidence of his influence in this movie. Note the way that Mikhalkov’s film idles on nature in the beginning sequence, encompassing a bicycle ride in the Russian countryside  and an official holding forth from a dais, inexplicably situated in the same backdrop. The succeeding image of the rider’s mother, surrounded by greenery in a meadow, is highly reminiscent of scenes from Tarkovsky’s first film, “Ivan’s Childhood” as well as his third and fifth films, “Mirror” and “Nostalghia.”

It is no surprise to find similarities the works by these two directors.  In addition to being Russian, they can both claim Michael Rhomm as their film school mentor. The utilization by both directors of music by Eduard Artemyev rounds out the comparison. You may wish to refer back to the support material on the DVD of “Solaris” to reacquaint yourself with Artemyev.

In case you have not watched this movie yet, this film is a master class in cinematic efficiency. The gag with the model train horn, for instance, demonstrates how easily twelve men can be moved in one direction, on the spot. Yet how scattered they become when logic’s introduced. Why should such a fine tool as reason be so divisive? Because, with it, we can so easily mislead ourselves.

To begin with, the jurors are put on lockdown, which does not go down entirely well with all. The director cleverly intercuts this segment with the incarceration of the young Chechen in his holding cell. As the captives settle down into their respective confinements, yet a third captive is introduced. On one wall of the gymnasium, caged in iron bars three feet off the ground, stands a piano, still and silent, a protest for the way that a jail cell squanders human potential.

Over the course of the jury’s proceedings, two of the twelve men are compelled to play the incarcerated instrument despite the inconvenience of stretching overhead to the max, between bars, to caress the keys. This multi-tasking imagery can’t help but ask, if brilliant concertos can be coaxed from eleven octaves, then why not at least a crude harmony from a dozen average Ruskies?

I’ve not yet looked up the song titles those men are actually playing. They are undoubtedly significant. The metaphor develops even further, later on, when the action cuts abruptly to a different piano going up in flames after a firefight. It evokes Tarkovsky once again, but more to the point, what a heavy metaphor for how punishing a fellow human being in our society is a bit like burning a piano for some music that was played on it.

Savor the sublime testament in favor of Mercy this passage exudes. We are all like pianos, to some degree. Are we not all practiced on by society? So, can we be entirely responsible for the sounds we make?

With typical Slavic wit, it is a scientist, in “12” who floats the only “not guilty” vote in the beginning, throwing apathy’s gyre off kilter and it is an artist that holds out for the guilty charge to the bitter end. Ironically, after the others become convinced of the Chechen’s innocence, they must reconsider their verdict due to potential ill consequences the others previously neglected to fully comprehend. The accused may be innocent, but he’s safer in jail than on the outside, where he’ll most certainly meet a violent end.

The script for “12”  is impeccable. When one thing moves, everything else does too. Besides those eighty-some ivories mentioned before, there also flies one tiny sparrow and a duo of contradicting blades. Even so, for better or worse, this story’s arc is mostly cranked by verbal escapades.

Mercy versus judgment and the script exploits a wide range of emotions in the space between. The confrontation is heightened in the way the action is staged. The camera’s constantly prowling up, down and around the long, narrow table. I prefer less talky films usually, with the assumption that moving pictures were made for more than just recording history and lit, but the cinematic mastery practiced in this movie unfolds all its deeper mysteries.

Contempt and jealousy alternate with bouts of shame and conscience. The balance of prejudice and self-doubt are re-sifted each time a juror recasts his vote. Condemnations and true confessions compete, low murmurs and high pitch rants may fluctuate, but the tension ramps steadily as each actor riffs on themes of guilt and self-hate.

Cut back to the hole where the Chechen boy’s fate methodically unfolds. His jail-bound pacing to-n-fros turn into an ethnic dance, we saw him engaged in before; in front of some soldiers, when he was a boy.

He’s hot-footing now, not to impress us but to keep alive and dancing without the benefit of actual blades this time. That’s not the point and never was. Witness how the whirling roots his frame and sets his spirit in flight. Could there be a more apt representation in that moment for a universal spirit that unites?

I was dismayed when a friend of mine recently told me that the director of “12” has become a right-wing bully in his country. I’ve never been to Russia and I don’t tune in that station, nor can I presume to understand the country’s language or customs. I barely have a sense of  Russian history, so don’t take any of this as firsthand but, for a great director to become more a part of the problem than the solution, I find that hard to understand.

Admittedly, I have researched very little. Reports in Wikipedia and IMDB are too vague to draw conclusions. I’ve watched his movie again and again though and I think it simply can’t be true. A person who manipulates with hate over the public air waves would never be the same as the one who exhibits such respect for humanity on the international cinema scene. But in huge, complicated countries such contradictions sometimes do occur. Despite the puzzling news, we’re going ahead in our analysis with “12.”



Dark Butterfly of Fate

Its Oscar night. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a prestigious organization, but it is also hairy, humongous and old, therefore seems destined to function a bit behind the times, sometimes. I’m not a member, so it’s only a guess, but I doubt the academy serves predominantly as a conservative boy’s clique. Give the art more credit than that.

After all, three previous Oscar best pics were directed by a Mexican and an African American. A Taiwanese/American was honored in 2013, and a woman, as recently as 2010.  This is not to say there’s no room to broaden. Thank heaven there are lots of diverse moviemakers out there, not waiting around for little statues. Our film commentary this month focuses on an Iranian-American, feminist director’s first feature, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” (2014).

I’ve chosen a random selection of three motion pictures with which to begin our section on Iran, in our series entitled, Films of Our Enemies. Two of these titles were filmed in Iran and one is from the U.S. We’ll review the most recent, first, because it sucks us right in. Let’s begin with a little background. The filmmaker was not born there, nor does she live in Iran, but her ancestors did. Actors speak Farsi. The main character wears traditional head gear, and the principle cast is all of Persian descent.

Films discussed here are the mirror image of their makers and what cooler tool could there be to acquaint us with a person from the other side? In her movie, Ana Lily Amanpour offers a rare view of Iran. Her lens focuses on an imaginary Tehran, not a literal one, but hinting at something we have in common. Otherwise, why would we watch?

It might be said, that “A Girl Walks Home Alone in the Night” is less about modern day Iran than the other two. I doubt it could have been made in that part of the world, under current conditions. So, it does not reflect its surface, accurately, but it may, ultimately, offer a clearer commentary of Iran than we first behold. One notable phenomenon this project demonstrates that the other two Iranian directors  could not, is what remarkable potential, an artist free from state control, can unlock.

It might seem repulsive to the cultural establishment of that country, that the imaginary Tehran portrayed in this piece is populated with prostitutes, junkies and pimps, but every country has its misfits. Even if Ms. Amanpour’s story exaggerates the scope of these epidemics, inside Iran, we can be confident that the social order there is as flawed as our own, resulting in alienation and degradation of a certain percent of the folk.

On the other hand, “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” seems quite close to the heart of Iran, in the way that it deplores how materialism corrupts the soul. The illusion of success, represented in the iconic american sports car, the fluctuating value of some classy jewels, the false sense of security afforded to a hooker’s fleeting beauty, are all predicaments owing to its parasitic presence in this girl’s world. The action takes place in an oil boom suburb, where consumerism is the real succubus. The vampiress serves a sanitary role, gliding solo, on her skateboard, under street light, head hooded, like a vulture, beneath the sun. She’s attractive as can be, but less a sexy beast than unsung holy woman, cleaning up after the evil one.

In style, this movie owes much more to the graphic novel than to gothic lit, and, apart from its superb soundtrack, is not much composed with the traditional arts of Persia in sight. Instead, it draws on such a diverse batch of pop cinematic references as German Expressionism, the Spaghetti Western, Gangster and Horror genres and “Fantomas.” What an exciting new vein on that robust artery of genius already nourishing us from the East. What a great starting point to delve in to our subject. This dark butterfly of fate may have been hatched in the psyche of a modern Iranian feminist, but it takes wing in some fantasy, pan-cultural cosmos of alienated youth. One thing I’ll say is, it’s a fine thing whenever diverse cultures mange to cross-pollinate.

Global cinema contains truths that cannot be practiced in a batch of orthodoxies, nor perpetrated on a population through numb belief. Truth is a moving target. It requires the finer faculties to be followed. No party can lay exclusive claim. No border can fence it in, or out. Even the simplest person has equal access, yet, even the most vigilant minded cannot always figure it out.

While stories in the Bible and Koran are enlightening, those and others like it were doomed to become instruments of deception. Fortifying orthodoxy by blindly adopting doctrines, simply cannot provide us with all we need to know, or do. A work of cinema can be just as misguided and slave making as a book, to be sure, but can also come closer to invoking the word made flesh, because its always being renewed. Film is a migration of light, continually on the move, transforming with the times.

It is no secret that the truth is the fact with which we most interact, but it takes personal responsibility and constant commitment to see what you see, know what you know, and feed it your pure intent. Truth can’t be confined to one person, place, or thing. You discover it in each moment, sometimes in the stillness, other times in the noise. Where it is found is always changing, along with how it applies. That little bit bothers us. We want to think, once we’ve comprehended something, we’ve conquered ignorance for good and our enlightenment is assured. Nothing of the sort.

Maybe that is why fine film always seems to be drawing new boundaries between right and wrong, but if you look closer, they echo common sense.  At the same time, fine film never tells us what to think. It funnels our awareness down to shade and sound, allowing our authentic responses. Consequently, ironically, that very private seeming screen space, provides infinite common ground.

If we harken back with nostalgia to less materialistic times in America, weren’t we holding precious the same basic ethics as modern Iran? Isn’t it possible they are simply attempting to prevent consumerism’s runaway spread in their homes? It would be going backwards to try that, in our country; next to impossible, to get our virginity back, but Iran’s folk haven’t slid all the way down that slippery slope, yet.

The rigid rhetoric of their government, while often portrayed as fanatical, in our press, is expressed in proportion to the degree of pressure they feel to conform from the West. It may not look right to us, but we could be just as bound, by faith, to an illusion, as they seem to be to theirs. Why dislike them for wanting to not get caught in materialism’s fangs?  Can’t we respect someone that resists?

First Impressions

acknowledgements to The Criterion Contraption

The proverb “first impressions are often correct” is challenged in this month’s film. Whereas mass media is good at feeding us shallow views, global cinema invites us to confront our prejudices.

Here is the second title from Iran for our series on films of our enemies. “Taste of Cherry” (1997), by Abbas Kiarostami, has appeared on numerous lists for the top ten movies of all time. On the other hand none other than Roger Ebert pronounced this masterpiece unfit to watch. I think the critic got stuck in his first impression and did not exercise due curiosity. We are all prone to this. I’ve done it.  For example, if I were to limit my entire assessment of the Iranian people based on what I encounter in the daily news, I’d be stuck with a bunch of superficial superstitions. Iranian cinema lifts us out of that rut.

I’m going to plunge into this post with a one-sided argument titled, “Stryder and Ebert at the Movies.” To hear Ebert’s side, just look up his review. Stryder – Richard, you made a harsh assessment of “A Taste of Cherry” after attending the premiere at Cannes. Me thinks you hate this film too much? You worked for a conservative newspaper. We’re you forced by your boss to dismiss this film because it came from Iran, and nothing this fine could come from such a place? I hope not, but your dislike of the film sounds more like a problem with indigestion than aesthetic flaws. You complained about the use of long takes. I happen to like them, when they work. But even if you don’t, there’s so much more to comment on in this film. You seem to have been distracted. You got some details in your review wrong, and made at least one major assumption that is not at all supported by the text.” We’ll come back to that…

Cherry’s style recalls Italian and Japanese neo-realist traditions. The main character and supporting cast are working class. The movie opens with, “In the name of Allah,” which is how traditional Muslim art always begins. It’s a form of common prayer, nothing radical about it. Both a blessing and a greeting, this phrase is as common as “hello” in the English language.

Everything that happens in this story belongs to the world of common people confronting ordinary problems in unglamorous surroundings. A morose man drives around industrial edged Tehran in search of an ally. His external environment develops for us out the window of his vehicle while he confronts the shifting angles of his inner struggle behind the steering wheel.

Critic Ebert was left cold by “Taste of Cherry.” Let’s put that in context. If a film like “The Fifth Element” opened Cannes that year,https://openchannelcontent.com/wordpress/better-keep-your-wits-about-you/, how could a film like “Taste of Cherry” hope to close it?”

What an impossible act to follow, at Cannes no less. Despite that, “Taste of Cherry” won a Palme d’Or that year. Europe most prestigious award. Film lovers that listened to Ebert lost out.

Maybe Roger was in a political pinch. Whatever the reason I don’t hesitate to critique the critic. He picks on the filmmaker’s choice to film rugged exteriors on Tehran’s outskirts.  He claimed it dragged on an already slow story. “Roger, really?” Both those choices impress me as an ideal marriage of substance and style, demonstrating utter mastery of working in the wide open, on a tight budget, within a state controlled film industry. I’m dazzled.

Whats more Abbas brilliantly confines the action to within speaking distance of the automobile. Such simplicity exemplifies the economy and practicality of neorealist sensibilities. The scope of the story is equally as quaint. The main character has a problem for which he must enlist the help of a stranger to resolve. We’re never shown the reason for his blues, only some emotional bruises.

Ninety-eight percent of this film consists of a depressed man asking for a simple favor in exchange for two hundred thousand bucks. Mr. Badhi is his name. He is extremely shut down and stubborn. Our own mass media’s biases would be reinforced if we judged the entire Persian race based on the behavior of this man. But there are other characters in the story.

There is a good reason we never get to learn precisely why he behaves the way he does too. The filmmaker refuses to indulge our bias. If we knew the truth it would be easier to judge. Our minds could be made and we could go home. The filmmaker’s challenge is to overcome our prejudices which we form at the beginning.

While Mr. Badhi can be selfish and manipulative toward his fellow man, who could fail to be impressed by the common courtesy show to him by most of those he encounters? All but one of them patently listens. All but one, respectfully refuses. Many raise moral questions any average American could understand.

The specific ancestral variations in the representative ethnicities that Mr. Badhi picks up are spread across the spectrum common to the geographic region. A Kurd, an Afghani, a Turk. All three, in their own way, take Badhi into their confidence. The irony of which, I’ll bet, is especially rich to non-outsiders. Each rider, in their own way, politely offers moral reasons for refusing to assist. In his countrymen we detect no lack of compassion. Those random encounters furnish the foreign audience, evidence of an overall gentility pervading Iranian society. One gets the impression we could get along.

A series of gradually intensifying encounters with strangers gets us down the road with Mr. Badhi. The script stays busy forever holding back his motivation, while exposing ever more of his desperation; until finally some one gives in. This film’s ethic does not suggest everyone is morally obliged to go out of their way for Mr. Badhi in this unfamiliar corner of the world. Not everyone does. In fact the first chap goes out of his way the opposite direction.

How would I respond to Mr. Badhi? What if some world weary soul cruised up in his Land Rover right now, rolled down the window and tried to strike up a conversation? In Iran in 1993, anyway, he’s invited to hang out, share a bit of food, take tea with strangers. This is the way, I hope we’d all agree, that customs should be practiced in ideal society.

Although the main character exhibits greater and greater urgency on each successive excursions, it gets him nowhere. The more he commits to his grim task, the less effective he appears to be. Ironically, what he has been driving around looking for all day he suddenly discovers, literally at the beginning of act three. By then, the exterior surrounding of the protagonist is as finely tuned to his emotional truth, as any film I have ever seen.

Here is a backdrop that can literally swallow a man in one gulp. What more epic depiction of this man’s predicament could we ponder than those towering mounds of earth and massive commercial earthworks machines? I doesn’t make sense that critic Ebert wasn’t  dazzled by such first rate, cinematic flash. The setting seems to me an epic equivalent to any man’s whose faith in life is crumbling.

For the rest of us there can be no mistaking a transcendent event when we see one. The recurrrance of extremely long takes anesthetized Mr. Ebert, but leaves the rest of us breathless while Mr. Badhi’s soul surfaces in front of that tumbling backdrop. There’s some suggestion of a Heavenly Father’s mercy, or is that the Mother Earth’s fury underneath the mass of anonymous machinery. It waits by the side of road, available to grand his wish, immediately, if he insists.

Before that tragedy can transpire, enter the enlightened taxidermist. Here is someone that finally consents to fulfill the sullen man’s request. Up to now Mr. Badhi has taken a series of prospective conspirators for a ride. Now watch how he’s finally taken for one himself, in his own car, behind the wheel, by a passenger that doesn’t need to ask the specifics of the fellow’s ordeal.

To be continued next month…