The Future World (Review)

The Future World

aka دنیای آینده aka Donyaye Ayandeh
The Future World
Directed by Ahmadreza Jaghtaei

The Future World

Why does the blue color in the toilet water stain my hands???

Iran’s film industry has a great reputation of producing killer good artistic flicks that light up international film festivals. Filmmakers work around the censorship of an oppressive regime to create amazing stories with greater allusions that slip past the censorship rules. The Future World (Donyaye Ayandehدنیای آینده) isn’t one of those films, this is a mainstream release that steals large portions of its look from Star Wars while giving it a kid-centric focus point. The resulting mishmash of cultures creates a bizarrely familiar film that is filled to the rim with cut rate shadows of the Star Wars originals. Basically, it’s ridiculous, but the slower pace puts it behind other bootleg Star Wars adventures like Turkey’s Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam. Still, there is just enough here that if you enjoy campy scifi stuff in a language you don’t understand with no subtitles (because at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!), The Future World just might be worth checking out. Everyone else can just enjoy the pictures and animated gifs, secure that they’re keeping two hours of their lives for more important things. Like looking for more animated gifs.

My mom says I’m the real Sith Lord!

As The Future World is rare and full of weird stuff, it gets the longform descriptive review treatment! As mentioned, it is without subtitles, and there is very little information about it in English. I only have the names of three of the actors and the director, everything else is a giant mystery that will probably be solved years from now when more information appears online. Until that day, we’ll do what we can.

The CGI used in The Future World would look great in 1982’s Tron, but The Future World dates from 2001, so it doesn’t look that great even in context. Sure, there was all those trade restrictions for decades, but no one is going to think about that when snarking on the CGI quality. All in all, The Future World is a perfect film for TarsTarkas.NET, as it’s something you’ve never seen before mixed with something you have. And it’s ridiculous!

The Future World

Y-Wing? Y not wing?

Original Kid (Hossein Yar Yar??) – The main character who spends much of the film being worried or complaining, even though is Dad is basically solving every problem rather quickly. Not to be confused with Knocking Kid or Third Kid. Pretty sure he’s played by Hossein Yar Yar, who seems to have no other credits in English so really, it is a mystery.
Dad – Original Kid’s dad, who has his own spaceship and wears a Han Solo vest. Very good at defeating Wampas and robots with toasters for heads.
Weird Uncle (Ghodratollah Izadi) – He probably isn’t the kid’s uncle but is just a random servant for the rich family the Original Kid belongs too, but he acts so much like a weird uncle that he is now Weird Uncle. Deal with it! He’s played by veteran actor Ghodratollah Izadi.
Black Beret (Mahshid Afsharzadeh) – Female member of the Brain Trust that runs the X2 under Darth Toaster. Not a big fan of Darth Toaster. Totally not Original Kid’s Mom. Totally. Mahshid Afsharzadeh is not only an award winning actress (obviously slumming here) but also a director of 2003’s The Second Start and 2014’s A 5-Star.
Blue Beret – Female member of the Brain Trust that runs the X2 under Darth Toaster. Wears a totally different color than Black Beret because color is in this season. Seems like the one to go along with Darth Toaster because she likes it, not out of fear.
Red Cap – Male member of the Brain Trust that runs the X2 under Darth Toaster. Seems like the one who would collaborate with Darth Toaster the easiest, despite not liking him. Which makes him weak willed and a bad leader.
Darth Toaster – The ultimate villain, a robot who has taken command of the X2 and kills all that are in his way.
Royal Toaster Guards – Darth Toaster’s two loyal guards who are always with him. They do nothing during the one scene where Darth Toaster is actually attacked.
Wampa – A mysterious lady turns into this Wampa and attacks the heroes, because why not have a random were-person on your spaceship?

The Future World


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Yeke Bezan (Review)

Yeke Bezan

aka یکه بزن aka Little Hero aka Yekeh Bezan
Yeke Bezan
Written and directed by Reza Safai
Yeke Bezan
Three Iranian Supermen (including a Superwoman!) Now that got your attention, let me deflate your joy for a bit by explaining that three characters dress up as Superman and fly around for a few minutes in the middle of the film, powered by a magic wand that also turns them into Tarzan characters and gunfighters out of an Old West movie. But, still, Iranian people running around dressed as Superman is not something you expect to see. The global image of Iranian cinema is a bunch of art house films all banned in their home country, but readers of TarsTarkas.NET know that Iranian cinema is much more than that. As we saw with Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam/A Party In Hell, pre-Revolution Iran put out a wide degree of cinema, including fantasy elements. There is even a term for these silly films, Filmfarsi, coined by Iranian film critic Houshang Kavoosi. Filmfarsi movies are low-budget populist fare that takes tropes and queues from other countries’ movies, particularly Indian cinema. The genre still continues today, though now the stories are worked around the censors, requiring directors to either tow the line or be very creative in their subversion.

Our focus is on 1967’s Yeke Bezan (The internet tells me that translates to Little Hero, but there is no giant octopi firing babies at genderbending kung fu starlets!) It is a goofy comedic fantasy film with roots all over. The long sequences of characters punching and shooting at each other seems lifted from Hollywood’s serials, giving it a common feel to the Turkish Super Hero movies that also feature large-scale “borrowing” of American pop culture. The characters break out into song, with beats that fit right in with Indian film. They even follow the Indian character breakdowns: A Handsome Hero, a Behrouz as his sidekick, a good girl who the hero ends up loving, and a bad girl who hangs out with the villains. Both the Handsome Hero and Behrouz spend time chasing after the bad girl, who we know is bad because she wears towels while talking to the men!
Yeke Bezan
In fact, there is a large amount of attractive women who shuffle through the film. 1960s Iran must have been a swinging place. Like several countries, the cinematography when women are on screen focuses on specific parts of their bodies, here it is either their bare backs (in the case of the bad girl in towels mentioned above), or more often, their legs, with the women almost exclusively wearing short shorts.

Overall, Yeke Bezan is interesting to watch because it’s unlike what you think films from Iran would be like, but it’s similarities to other genre cinemas of the time will also preview how much you will enjoy it. If you like the midstream Turkish Superhero movies that spend more time punching and goofing than superheroing, then Yeke Bezan will be up your alley. Otherwise, you’ll probably be bored for half an hour, entertained for 20 minutes, then bored for the conclusion of the film.
Yeke Bezan
Writer/Director Reza Safai is hard to find information on, partially because he shares a name with an up and coming actor/director named Reza Sixo Safai. I don’t know if they are related, all I can definitively find out about Reza Safai is he directed a string of fifty‐two Filmfarsi movies from 1961 to 1978, but his career cratered out after the Revolution. He wrote, produced, and even acted in many of those films. There was a brief attempt at a revival post-Revolution, but he ran into censorship problems. He was efficient with resources (aka cheap), would extend filming hours to cut down on the number of days on location, made promotional material out of outtakes, and often had one film shooting while another was processing in the lab. Reza Safai at one point dated starlet Mercedeh Kamyab, a fact that was more important than mentioning his actual career in at least one book about Iranian cinema.

Despite the goofy Filmfarsi cinema getting critical disdain, Yeke Bezan is a cinema classic in Iran. So much so that it was even remade in 2004 as Sharlatan (Charlatan), which follows the original plot rather closely, including the magic wand turning them into Superman scenes! So that’s two Iranian Superman movies! The film follows the original close enough I stole some of the character names from it to use for characters here. If anyone who has seen Yeke Bekan can help out, that would be great. I fully expect someone to stop by 7 years after an internet hero fansubs Yeke Bekan, outraged that I got a character’s name wrong. Sharlatan is released on DVD with English subtitles, unlike Yeke Bezan, which was taken from an internet rip of a vcd rip of a VHS tape that is probably second generation of a degraded negative that has two obvious missing scenes. With no subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!

The fun part of doing research on Yeke Bezan was that even though I drew a blank on a lot of things I tried to discover about this film, I stumbled across several other exciting things. Needless to say, expect a whole pack of obscure Iranian fantasy films to appear in the next few months, and hopefully more once I identify what movies are on a few mystery posters. I did get a few of the cast, but some of them are mysteries. Frank Myrqhary and Hassan Rezaei are listed in the credits, I’m not sure who is who.
Yeke Bezan
But for now it’s time to get farsi, filmfarsi, with Yeke Bekan!

Hasan (Reza Beyk Imanverdi) – Our intrepid hero, who spends the day doing good things and being a free spirit floater. And occasional hero for hire. Defeats the villains, gains a magic wand and the girl. Reza Beyk Imanverdi was an Iranian theater actor whose big break came when he met director Samuel Khachikian at a car accident, and Khachikian cast him in one of his films. That ballooned to a huge career that not only headlined many Iranian films, but gained him international stardom and roles in films in Turkey and Italy. He was forced out of Iran after the Revolution and eventually settled in America, becoming a truck driver. He died in 2003 of lung cancer.
Behrouz (Dariush Asadzadeh) – Hasan’s goofy sidekick who is usually sporting a sideways hat. He’s the comic relief, though manages to be a little less annoying than the traditional comic relief guy. Actor Dariush Asadzadeh is still performing on Iranian dramas into his 90s, but beyond that there is little biographical information about him in English.
Mahshid (Mina) – Rich lady under the care of her uncle, though all her wealth seems consecrated in a necklace that everyone wants. Hasan crushes on her. I was unable to find anything out about Mina.
Maryam (???) – Maryam is the bad gal who gives the heroes someone to perv on while maintaining Mashid’s chaste nature. Because she’s a sultry seductress she has to be evil, thus she’s allied with the villain, Homayoun. I don’t know who played her.
Homayoun (???) – The Bald Eyepatch Villain who menaces Mahshid in pursuit of her necklace that’s worth tons of money. Is repeatedly foiled by Hasan and Behrouz. Not sure who played him.

Yeke Bezan
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Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam

Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam

aka A Party In Hell

Written by Mehdi Maysaghieh
Directed by Samuel Khachikian and Mushegh Sarvarian

When you think Iranian cinema, what comes to mind for most people are art house movies that are considered critical masterpieces. Now, this may be true for most Iranian cinema exported post-revolution, but Iran has had a prolific and diverse cinema industry for over 100 years. Even the current crop of films produced for the domestic audience is completely different from the art house films (many of which are not even screened in Iran!) And like any thriving film community, excellent and influential directors will helm pictures that are now considered genre films. So we’re going to take a trip back to the 50s and 60s, when Iranian cinema was at one of its creative peaks. Around this time, the box office was beginning to fill up with thriller pictures that would become a fad before being replaced by melodramas as the next big thing. Western influences in storytelling and editing became more apparent, especially films directed by Samuel Khachikian, one of the directors of Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam (A Party in Hell).
The reason Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam gains our attention is the highly detailed and energetic fantasy sequence that makes up the last third of the film. Our hero wanders through Hell to learn important life lessons on not being a greedy jerk, and in doing so encounters wonderful sets, costumes, and historical figures. The wild underworld filled with angels, devils, tribesmen, dancers, Caesars, Hitler, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, snake ladies, giant monsters, a Satan Computer, and rock and roll, is a creative and entertaining feast. The use of movement and music flow together to create an energy that brings the film to life. Needless to say, I enjoyed A Party in Hell.

Two directors are credited in some database, others only list Samuel Khachikian. So let’s talk about him first. Khachikian was one of the most popular and influential directors in Iranian history. He was also a prolific writer and editor. Khachikian’s directing career started with 1953’s Return, and he went on to direct forty films. Many of his pictures would be classified as genre pictures, trending towards thriller and noir elements, with several featuring horror elements. His successful suspense pictures earned him the nickname “Iranian Hitchcock.”

Some of his better known films are Khodahafez Tehran (Goodbye Tehran, 1966), Faryade nimeshab (The Midnight Terror, 1961), Delhoreh (Anxiety, 1962), and Chahar-rahe havades (The Crossroad of Events, 1955). Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam/A Party in Hell was entered into the 8th Berlin International Film Festival. Khachikian was Iranian-Armenian, and his original films were first shown within the community before expanded to all of Iran. Khachikian is also known for creating the first trailer for an Iranian film, his second feature, A Girl from Shiraz (1954).

Many of Khachikian’s films deal with class issues. His first film Return was a drama where a servant boy and the spoiled son from the family her works for compete over the affections of a young lady. He returned to the class themes with his third film, Crossroads of Incidents (1955), that also featured criminal scenes that got him praise. This continued into 1957’s A Storm in Our Town, a thriller that began his comparisons to Hitchcock. Khachikian would deny the influence, instead citing the stories from his father about the Armenian genocide as inspiration for the psychological thriller elements. Khachikian’s most well-known films were produced in the 60s, by the 1970s popular cinema had moved towards elements outside his comfort zone, leading to less distinctive work.

After the revolution, Khachikian’s output slowed considerably. 1985’s Eagles was one of the the first war films made by Iran, and was the highest grossing film up to that time. He wasn’t allowed to make another film until 1990’s Herald, a religious movie he made to placate Islamic cultural ministers (Khachikian was Christian.) Khachikian died in 2001, but his family legacy lives on through his son, director Edwin Khachikian, and his grandson, editor Ara H. Keshishian.

Mushegh Sarvarian was the original director, but for reasons I was unable to figure out, he left the production, causing the producers to scramble and hire on Khachikian. Sometimes known as Mushegh Soruri, the Iranian/Armenian director helmed a few other films, Mahtabe khoonin (aka The Bloody Moonlight, 1956), Haji Jabbar dar Paris (aka Mr. Jabbar in Paris, 1961), and Shahname akharesh khoshe (1966). I am pretty sure Haji Jabbar dar Paris is a loose sequel, with Ezzatollah Vosoogh reprising the role of Haji Jabbar. There isn’t that much information out there about Mushegh Sarvarian in English. If I were to guess, I would say Mushegh Sarvarian directed the more comedic elements of A Party in Hell and Samuel Khachikian directed the effects-laden portions.

Aside from the actors I’ve identified, I’ve found the cast list containing Roomina, Parkhideh, Rahim Rohshanian, Hooshang Morahdi, Akbar Khajavi, Ebrahim Bahgheri, Mehdi Raisfirooz, Berenji, Sobhani, and Zarandi. I don’t know who is who, beyond suspecting Roomina is Parvin.

Haji Jabbar (Ezzatollah Vosoogh) – A greedy jerk who is in need of getting an A Christmas Carol-style life evaluation! And don’t ask him about his old man makeup!
Ahmad (Reza Arham Sadr) – Haji’s assistant who has a secret life playing music at nightclubs. Reza Arham Sadr was called a master comedy performer, he made his name in comedic plays for years. Shab Neshini Dar Jahanam was his first film role. Though he appeared in a handful of other movies, Sadr moved back to his first love, the theater. After the revolution, many of his older plays were banned and he was considered undignified by cultural officials. He died in 2008 at age 85.
Parvin (???) – Haji Jabbar’s daughter. She wants to be free to marry her cousin, but Haji only sees her as a tool to get more money by marrying her to a rich guy. This upsets her, for reasons you might understand.
Parvin’s Cousin (???) – Not sure of his name, but he’s in love with Parvin, and Haji won’t let him marry her as he’s marrying her off to the highest bidder! So let’s whip out the musical instruments and be sad!

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