While Nicolas Cage gets a thorough working over on Friday night (why ?, why ?, why ?) as do inane comedies and action movies on all others, Tuesday on SBS offers a rare double that set them apart for the week.
Kandahar (1P) is directed by Iranian Mohsen Makhmalbaf and was made pre-9/11. Set in Afghanistan under Taliban rule (although mostly filmed in neighbouring Iran for obvious reasons) it documents the travel of an Afghani-born Canadian, Nafas, returning to her country of birth as she tries to reach her sister who has written and said that she will kill herself at the next solar eclipse.
Naturally the film does not reflect well on the Taliban and would not perhaps have been so interesting or relevant to Western audiences save for what occurred post 9/11. Told in the first person by Nafas who discreetly tape records her thoughts and conversations in English, she desperately travels across the arid landscape with anyone who will show her the way to the city of Kandahar. Firstly, wearing the full burqua covering, with a trader and his wives, later by a boy who claims he can step around the trouble spots.
The film conjures some beautiful yet surreal images, the most commented on being the artificial limbs parachuted down to an aid agency (nothing more than a tent in the desert) and one legged men hopping madly in a wild foot race to catch one of the prizes.
Beautiful but haunting.
The other, quite different in almost every way, Nine Queens (11P) is one of the best ‘con’ movies I have seen. This original is Argentinian and it was remade in America recently as Criminal, starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and John C Reilly but naturally isn’t quite as good. If you enjoyed the Hustle TV shows on ABC then you will enjoy this even more. The story is about two con men getting hold of a sheet of rare stamps (the Nine Queens) and then extorting a collector for their exchange. Cleverly written, you do not realise who is playing whom until the very last scene. Good fun.