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A Dragon Arrives! (Ejdeha Vared Mishavad!) - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
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A Dragon Arrives! (Ejdeha Vared Mishavad!)
SIFF's capsule summary: "Police Inspector Hafizi wakes up on a desert island and must piece together the puzzle of his abduction while working a murder case in this delightfully unconventional and entertaining Iranian mashup of gumshoe noir and phantasmagorical ghost story." (Iran, 2016, 105 minutes)
SIFF link: A Dragon Arrives!

This film starts out looking like a documentary about mysterious events in 1965, the day after Prime Minister Hassan Ali Mansur was assassinated. There is an internal investigation of an inspector in the dreaded former secret police agency about strange reports in an investigation of the mysterious death of a political prisoner on the island of Qeshm. There's an early 17th century Portuguese shipwreck from the time of William Baffin's death, in a desert next to an old graveyard said to be the site of earthquakes that occur each time a body is buried there.

9 Excellent The story is intricate, weird, wonderful, and much to complicated to even attempt to summarize. However, this colorful press release about the film may help explain it further, particularly to people who have already seen the film and still have questions about what to make of it. It earned the exclamation point in the title.

The directing, by Mani Haghighi – who also wrote the film, produced, and played himself in a small role – is excellent. The visual style reminds me of The Fall, which was also a weird film. Every character has a look that makes him (or her) distinctive. The sets and props are wonderful, particularly the Portuguese shipwreck and the brilliant orange Impala.

The acting is solid. First-time actor Amir Jadidi is wildly charismatic. Homayoun Ghanizadeh and Ehsan Goudarzi had acted on stage, but never in film, and they're both good. The supporting cast are also solid.

As much as I enjoyed the look of the film and the enigmatic story, the most wonderful part of the film was the soundtrack. True to the film's sense of mystery, the soundtrack sometimes includes music with a visible source, sometimes it's background music, and sometimes ambient sounds and sound effects blend into the score. Although the music never overwhelms the dialog (or maybe it does, but I didn't notice because I was reading subtitles), it's always prominent The music and sound design are outstanding; although it's too early to say it has the best soundtrack of 2017, it's better than in any other film I recall in the past several years.

Between the weirdly fascinating script, the excellent directing and cinematography, the solid acting, and the outstanding music and sound, I rate the film excellent.

Languages: Farsi (and a little German), with English subtitles.

Rating: I don't think this film has a US rating (yet), but I'd guess it would rate a "R" or "PG-13", depending on the whims of the MPAA, and whether any automatic-"R" language slipped past my notice.

Screening: 12 noon, Pacific Place (room 4).
Audience: a typical SIFF press screening crowd, I'd guess little over 100, about 400 seats (estimated capacity).

Snacks: wrap sandwiches from home.

Ads and announcements: no ads at press screenings; SIFF volunteers "R" and "J" provide announcements.

Notes to myself:

SIFF statistics: 5 films (all features), 5 time slots, one party. ("J": 4 films, one party.)

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