If Boutique, set in Tehran, is a social survey of young Iranians, as most reviewers seem to think, it is too superficial and scattered to convince. But, recklessly taking my cue from the fact that the protagonist of writer-director Hamid Nematollah’s debut feature is also named Hamid, I would call it instead, or at least foremost, a “get even” movie. Young Hamid in the film, who dresses windows for a mall men’s clothing store, becomes infatuated with a 17-year-old girl, a sort-of runaway, for whom he steals jeans and lavishes with other gifts beyond his means, perhaps ruining his life, only to have her chuck him for outright conventionality. This dismal piece of misogynism masquerading as social critique was shot in digital video. Its defenders may insist, supported by Hamid’s final downward trip in an elevator, that both Hamid and Eti, the girl, are locked into patterns of behavior by the limited range of possibilities open to them in Iran. Whatever; Boutique is flimsy and dull.
Archive for December 19th, 2009
Although the whole thing lasts only 53 minutes, I made it, Partner, only forty-five minutes through Riders of Destiny, a B.S. (Before Stagecoach/stardom) Western starring the future Ringo Kid, John Wayne, one of my favorite actors. But not here! This was his first appearance as Singin’ Sandy—I’m not kiddin’—for Lone Star Productions. And here’s where problems with this action flick begin. Duke Wayne can’t sing, Pilgrim—never could, and he is therefore dubbed in those embarrassing scenes by someone who (remotely) can: someone whose clear voice is a poor match-up for Duke’s distinctively nasal speaking voice. As a result, the strapping lad is undone—and at a time when he needed all possible encouragement. And the principal song that Sandy sings when he is riding alone! Its refrain is something about drinking that night with the dead—not the sort of thing one can imagine C.G.A. (Chubby Gene Autry) chirping. I know what you’re gonna say, Pilgrim: Sandy is singin’ how he feels in a dangerous world. But that’s just it: this would require an Expressionistic style in the filmmaking that we’re not given; given the film’s, instead, naturalism, Sandy would be singing something to counteract the dark way that he feels.
I like that the villain, Kincaid, is hoarding water: a matter of Old West and ongoing relevance. The writer-director is Robert N. Bradbury, who had a famous son whose identity I’ll keep secret for the time being, Pilgrim.*
This is an agonizingly boring film, although the public was sufficiently entertained that Duke Wayne played Singin’ Sandy Saunders (who sold seashells by the seashore) on a few more occasions.
* actor Bob Steele