White Balloon

Daily Journal of Mahaan, an Iranian-American student residing in USA.

Monday, December 31, 2007

a simple wine-influenced wish!

New year is a symbolic moment of worldwide joy for us to segment the present time and define past and future. Some times, they're glamorous and some time as simple as my 2008 new year eve. But no matter how sophisticated is the surrounding environment, it is good to keep the spirit of the moment. It is good to take the advantage of alcohol's influence and be imaginative and put down a single wish for the coming year: At some point in this year, I want to dance with my partner on Leonard Cohen's song (Dance me to the end of love).

Happy 2008!

Time to say goodbye to 2007

Sitting in front of Reyhan, and looking back at an stormy year which comes to an end in a few hours:

The year that started at the middle of our separation path. Many dramatic moments of farewell and reunion and yet there is a big question mark about what's going to come.
Despite the sad moment of my separation from Reyhan, 2007 was certainly a positive shake in my life. Start of a new trends of emotions, friendships,... and certainly hell a lot of self exploration. A few people who helped me tremendously to overcome my fears, emotional unstabilities and move on with my new life.

My private life problems became a motivation for me to study more about the issues that is influencing my generation: Our constant thirst and begging for attention and kindness. More than any topic and I chatted about relationships with friends and random people and yet at the end, there are many many questions unanswered in my mind. But generally, what I observe is that relationships have become so complicated that practically people are either working or spending a lot of their energy and resources on relationships.

The political year is coming to an end while the world is mostly run by corporate gansters. The military related industries are booming tremendously thanks to a global network of war warmongering and conflict creation. Moderate voices and dialog seekers are mainly at the margins with small gains. On the dark side of the events, I remember continuous bloodshed and loss of life and intellectual capital in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, and many under-reported areas of the world. Continious violation of democratic process in US by the Bush adminstration, constinuation of the rule of populist politics in Iran and many other countries. Human rights violations are global with little bit of attention. We all skim the news of misery around the globe with little reaction and care towards our fellow world citizens.

On the bright side of the events, I see events like the loss of Chavez's undemocratic constitutional changes, peaceful and democratic trends in Turkey's politics, peace progress in the Korean peninsula, global conscious towards the dangers of global warming and the importance of environmental protection, and last but not least the efforts of millions of individuals who tried to lessen the pains of the wars and numerous natural disasters that happened throughout the world.

The coming year has a few interesting elections: US primaries and later the presidential election which shapes the mainstream of the US politics. In Iran, there will be parliamentary election that many hope that its result will eventually limit the power of Ahmadinejad's clan. In some different ways, mainstream media is somehow directed and controlled in both US and Iran. A large chunk of the social opinion is shaped by the mainstream media. An interesting question for me is to see how much Internet and online communities that present independent voices can influence these elections.

Like any other year, I close the year with hope: with hope that we humans find our way out of greed and enslavement. Hoping that we all find better meaning from the great gift that has been given to us: our life. I look forward to 2008.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Movie: Money

Morality, Social Responsibility, Our responsibility's towards an individuals faith... All these are touched in a masterpiece named L'argent (aka "Money") by the late cinema director Robert Bresson. I watched "Money" 15 years ago on Iranian TV and it shaked me. And after years I got a chance to go back to it which was as fresh as before.

The movie is a story of an unlucky young labor whose life and destiny is change by series of selfish and irresponsible actions of other individuals. The story line is very simple and straight, but throughout such simple story, we get challenged by important question about the consequences of our greedy actions in the society.

Bresson has a unique style of narration. In Money he pictures violence and darkness of modern society without a single violent scene. Of course he's one of the legends of the French new wave and many of subtle elements of the genre are visible in his work. But what really strikes me in Money is Bresson's ability to lead audience's imagination towards a deep sense of the situation. There is a scene that the main character of the movie is sentenced to prison. He simply looks at the camera. No music, no special sound. But the close up shot and the silence works effectively. He looks to us, the society who simply watches him going down. And later we will see that the society pays dearly for that and he has a second deep look at us.

I recently had a discussion with a film lover friend about the popularity of the violence in the independent cinema. Contrary to my protest, she believes that to picture the depth of darkness and violence of our time, we should picture it totally naked. Examples of such picture are quite out there: "Sin City" or "Kill Bill", "Amores Peros", etc. Looking back at "Money", I once again challenge such a requirement. Money is deeply dark and violent for me, but at the same time, it is a movie that we can show it to middle school children.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

American Beauty

After years I re-watched American Beauty. Last time I watched it with Reyhan at school theater while we were struggling with shaping our new state of relationship. And this time under the influence of Percy's The Moviegoer, I'm going through a slow period of self exploration. So no wonder that I sympathize with American Beauty's main character (Lester).

With no doubt, American Beauty is one of the most intelligent Hollywood production of the recent decades. The movie digs into the depth of confused nuclear family structures in US. And the byproduct of this emotional chaos is a new young generation who has inherited a incomplete mixture of American dream values. Values that are acting contradictory upon top of each other. The new generation is unhappy and angry and it's not clear of what! Of too much of freedom and options? Of lack attention from parents? or facing a society that is obsessed with achievement and being extraordinary.

And It is quite interesting for me to see how my perception about this movie has changed over the years. I found it quite a pity that the ending of the movie is Lester's death. His redemption and achievement of existential humanism is so short (basically compressed in a magnificent subtle smile by Kevin Spacy right before ....).

Writing about such a great movie is not complete without mentioning Tomas Newman's music. For me American Beauty was an introduction to new genre of film music which was filled with delicacy and melodic simplicity. Something which was later extended By Newman and other composer's in works such as Erin Brokovich, 21 Grams and Crash.
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