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Foreign Comedy - Iran - Men At Work / Kargaran mashghoole karand

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Men At Work / Kargaran mashghoole karand
Mahnaz Afshar, Ahman Hamed, Mahmoud Kalari, Reza Kianian
Directed by Mani Haghighi
Farsi with English Subtitles
Iran 2006
Film Movement 2007
77 minutes

As foreign film DVDs go, Iran's Men At Work by director Mani Haghighi requires closer attention to the subtitles than most as it is a dialogue heavy film and there are few silent breaks. The story in Men At Work is basic: four middle-aged guys on their way back from a ski trip stop for a pee break, see a huge rock on the edge of the cliff, and decide to shove it down the mountain. This task becomes as obsessive as little boys building dams and rivers in a mud puddle.

According to the Film Movement jacket blurb for Men At Work / Kargaran mashghoole karand many critics have seen this man versus immoveable object film as some kind of political allegory. Director Mani Haghighi says it is not there. The rock itself being purportedly phallic (you got me on that one) there can also be a feminist interpretation to Men At Work. I think this big ass rock is just a big ass rock and these guys being guys is just guys being guys. Finding some hidden agenda in this movie from Iran is as silly as a Muslim critic seeing a Bush subtext in Dumb and Dumber....

As the story progresses more and more people connected to the four central characters stop by and join their quest to fall the rock. Each subgroup comes up with a different, competing plan. It is the number of approaches to falling the rock such as using a donkey, a road sign or a tree as a lever, or heavy rope and the winch on a jeep, that make this weirder and weirder.

I am sure I missed a lot of the humor in this movie but you really cannot miss the gag where one of the guys takes a falling rocks sign from the roadside to use as a lever. The soccer match play by play is also something you want to pay attention to.

There are a couple of continuity glitches in Men At Work. The biggest is when they guy with the cell phone and his wife show up. First there is no fallen tree next to the donkey then it is right there.

Like all Film Movement DVDs, Men At Work comes with a bonus short film: Hold Up by American director Madelein Olnek. This comic short film about a couple planning to rob a convenience store is the best one I have seen so far and in a long, long time. I like my shorts to have an actual intelligible story without any artsy artifice. It is smart, well-written, well acted, smart, tight, and funny as hell.  Hold Up is a short film I will definitely show to friends and family.



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