Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Selene Walters (b.1924), Former Model and Actress, At Jewpers of IAJF, Los Angeles; Report by Payman Akhlaghi

Selene Walters (b. 1924), Former
Model Actress, January 29, 2013,
Jewpers of IAJF, Los Angeles

Selene Walters (b. 1924)
Former Model and Actress
Special Guest of Jewpers of IAJF
January 29th, 2013, Los Angeles

An Original Report by Payman Akhlaghi 
First published at
Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.

On Tuesday night, January the 29th, 2013, Jewpers of IAJF, Los Angeles, was host to the 89-year young Ms. Selene Walters, born Elizabeth Florence Walker, a former American model and actress, who, as we were told, had once been in a romantic relationship with the young Shah of Iran.

The program began with a succinct audio-visual introduction to the life and times of the Shah, presented by Ms. Deborah Zakariaei, the organizer and host of the event. Thereafter, Ms. Walters spoke of her childhood and education, her life as a beautiful model and rising actress, her times as a young divorcee mother among the famous names in Hollywood and New York, and of course, how she had met the Shah. An eloquent speaker, an absorbing story-teller, with a reassuring, trustworthy and attractive tone, she recounted with youthful energy the lively story of how through a hint from Aristotle Onassis, the billionaire, she made it on time to Nice and Riviera, in Southern France, and soon enough ended up dancing with a recently divorced Shah. A short while later, she was cordially invited to visit the royal palace, in Tehran.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On Culture: Recounting a Memory, A Note by Payman Akhlaghi (2013)

Alternate World MMX01e
by Payman Akhlaghi
On Culture: Recounting a Memory
A Note By Payman Akhlaghi [First Draft]

First Published on
Photo: Alternate World MMX01e, by © 2010, Payman Akhlaghi

One late night, in my early teens, I was walking home alongside my mother, on the streets of Tehran. We might have been coming back from a tutorial in physics, or a family party. The streets were mostly empty of cars and people. Only a few feet ahead of us, a tall lady in black chador, alone, had taken the sidewalks, as well. A private car passed by, slowed down, pulled over, and waited for her. Given the context, the driver's intent was rather clear. The woman, visibly offended, stood still, then after a moment of hesitation, shouted at the driver, in a subdued, almost shivering, voice, "Get lost, you uncultured man!" Whether the driver heard her, he pushed on the pedal, and drove away. Whoever she was, she wasn't what the man had thought of her.

I've often pondered that brief observation. To be sure, Persian language has its own share of acerbic obscenities. Another lady might have resorted to crying out some piercingly memorable if X-rated curses. Yet, the worst insult that this evidently educated lady could think of against what she saw as an attack on her honor was none but the adjective "uncultured", "uncultivated", "culture-less", "a man without culture." (بی فرهنگ, bi-farhang). Her means of defense did not defeat her purpose.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Independent Short Film Review: "Rust and Bone" (2012), Note by Payman Akhlaghi

Rust and Bone, "De rouille et d'os";
Original Review by Payman Akhlaghi

Directed by Jacques Audiard
Adapted from the novel by Craig Davidson
Music by Alexadnre Desplat
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaert, et al
(French, 2012, 120')

This review was first published on author reserves all rights to the textual content of this review.

Rust and Bone is a slice of life, as beautiful, ugly, kind, cruel, strong, dynamic, passionate, depressed, joyous, fearsome, intense, generous, expectant, hateful, and loving, as life could be, one form or another.

After losing both her legs to an accident involving a show whale, a young, beautiful, active woman rebuilds herself, her heart, her life, one breath, one step, at a time. Meanwhile, a strong young man, with a gypsy heart, utterly lost in life, carrying along his little son, grows to discover his center in her arms. By then, he too, has lost something of her physical potentials, due to a genuine sacrifice.

The jerky handheld camera and cropped framing, besides systemic jump-cuts and an elliptic narrative with fluid temporal skips, have all given the naturalistic feel of a homemade video to this chronicle of the trajectory of two convergent lives. The performances are equally realistic, with the actors deliberately and successfully masking their fluent technique and preparation, virtually in every shot. From Ms. Cotillard's many moments, I cite her mesmerizing walk toward her young man to empower him during a fight he's about to lose, with a facial expression so rare in its subtle display of strength and determination. From Mr. Shoenaert, his ferocious attempt as saving his son from drowning underneath a thick layer of winter ice belongs to this author's clip-album, next to the long run from "Atanarjuat", or the resuscitation scene at the end of "The Abyss", with an even more convincing progression.

The film is not short on the poetry of movements, be it in the angular violence of the fight scenes, or in the confrontation of Ms. Cotillard with the whale across glasses. This is specially true for the increasingly soulful love scenes, cohesively embedded within the fabric of the story. As for the music by Mr. Desplat, though not his most complex work so far on compositional grounds, it does contribute much to creating the atmosphere, and to the underscoring the inner drama of the characters.

Rust and Bone marks the third time that I've enjoyed the humanity, clarity and emotional sophistication of a work by Mr. Audiard, following his earlier "Read My Lips" (2001) and "The Beat That My Heart Skipped" (2005).

© 2013, Payman Akhlaghi. All rights reserved.

(*) Sources: for names, dates, and related titles.
(*) A Trailer of Rust and Bone