VIFF Film Reviews: The Iran Job; In Search of Hayden.


Three more days to go.

The Iran Job. (Documentary, 93 minutes, USA/Germany/Iran, director Til Schauder). When high school basketball star Kevin Sheppard fails to make a National Basketball Association team, he gets a job playing with a fledgling team in Iran, much to the dismay of his girl friend. Maybe her worry is justified. Kevin and his Serbian team-mate, Z, strike up friendships with three free-spirited Iranian women who risk jail to visit the two foreign men in their apartment. The conversation between the women and the men scratches only the surface of the problems faced by intelligent, middle-class Iranians and we get no opinions at all from Kevin and Z. But Kevin leads his team up the charts from bottom place to the national playoffs.
In Search of Haydn. (Documentary, 102 minutes, UK, director Phil Grabsky). In view of the reigning opinion that Joseph Haydn invented classical music, this film is a dud. Sure, it traces Haydn’s rise from obscurity to fame and admiration from the likes of Mozart and Beethoven, but it fails to show how his symphonies and chamber music took a step beyond the baroque era. And the music is brief. A re-enactment of the last movement of the “Farewell” symphony drew a laugh from the audience. But the one minute devoted to the surprise in the “Surprise” symphony was not a surprise. The best music came with the closing credits when we  heard the whole of Emma Kirkby’s rendition of “In Verdure Clad” from The Creation.

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About aharmlessdrudge

Way back during the late Bronze age -- actually it was the 1950s -- all of us in high school had to take a vocational test to determine our interests and, supposedly, our future careers. I cannot remember the outcome, but I do recall one question that gave me pause. "If you were to win a Nobel prize, would it be in literature or in physics?" I hesitated over the question: although I enjoyed mathematics and science more than English class, I did have a couple of unfinished (and very bad) novels hidden away at home. I cannot remember what I chose back then, but the dilemma followed me to university, where I switched from mathematics to English and -- after a five-year stint in journalism -- back to mathematics. I recently retired as a professor of statistics. Retirement. What a good chance to revive my literary ambitions. I have finished a novel -- more about that in good time -- and a rubble of drafts of articles about mathematics and statistics is taking up space on my hard disk.
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