LOS ANGELES, March 2, (RTRS): Unreeling with near-cyclonic force in a nonlinear style, “Lantouri” marks another ambitious examination of the churning frustrations of Iran’s disenfranchised younger generation from multihyphenate Reza Dormishian (“I’m Not Angry”). At its most basic level, this social drama is about lex talionis, the “eye for an eye” retaliation justice permitted by Islamic law, but it also references a whirlwind of themes, including Iran’s human-rights violations, the struggle for women’s’ rights, corruption and a host of other contempo issues; meanwhile, on a meta level, it examines point of view and unreliable storytelling. While a must-see for those wanting to take the pulse of what’s happening in Iran, the film is a tough watch, signaling that fest play will likely trump sales.
Purporting to be an investigation of a shocking crime, “Lantouri” feels stylistically inspired by Godardian jump cuts, Tom Tykwer’s “Run Lola Run” photo montages, and Kamran Shirdel’s singular masterpiece, “The Night It Rained” (1967), which mixed interviews and media reports to provide contradictory views of a single event. From the opening moments, Dormishian’s film practically assaults the viewer with an explosion of images, details and voices, shot in a variety of media and styles, and replete with opinions from sociologists, human-rights activists, political hardliners, and even men (and women) on the street.
The crime in question is the dousing of a woman’s face with acid, and the victim is Maryam (Maryam Palizban), an aristocratic thirtysomething journalist and social activist, who has spent many years campaigning against Iran’s retaliation justice. But after her hideous disfigurement, her feelings about lex talionis undergo a 180-degree change. The perpetrator is Pasha (the intense Navid Mohammadzadeh, as good here as he was in “I’m Not Angry”), a younger man who becomes obsessed with Maryam and fancies himself her suitor, even though he comes from a lower social class and a life of crime. Is his action a premeditated deed, or a spontaneous crime of passion?
Pasha is the mastermind of a street gang that has moved from simple purse snatchings and muggings to car theft, kidnapping and extortion. His backstory is divulged at length and from contradictory points of view: Some say that he’s a Robin Hood of sorts who only preys on the corrupt rich and uses his haul to help orphans, while others call him scum. From the standpoint of his fellow gang member Baroon (“I’m Not Angry” co-star Baran Kosari, thrilling here as a bad girl with incredibly alluring eyes), he’s a sensitive man who cries when he kills someone.
Maryam’s circumstances are similarly laid out — through hearsay, through interviews with those who describe themselves as her friends, through a former boyfriend, and finally through the testimony of the woman herself. Dormishian makes viewers conscious of how much in life is open to interpretation and misinterpretation, especially in a society where it becomes difficult to separate truth, rumor and lie.
The director uses a restless camera (wielded by d.p. Ashkan Ashkani) and a jittery editing style (courtesy of Hayedeh Safiyari) that suits the increasingly fraught proceedings. As a prison doctor readies Pasha for the literal eye-for-an-eye justice that Maryam demands, the tension becomes almost too much to bear. Here, Dormishian and Safiyari seem to be knowingly playing with imagery from Luis Bunuel’s “Un chien andalou.” In addition to the tension-inducing lensing and agitated cutting, Mohammad Reza Delpak’s nerve-wracking sound design deepens our immersion in the mind of the unhinged Pasha.
Before making its international premiere in the Panorama section of the Berlinale, “Lantouri” was a buzzy item at Tehran’s Fajr Film Festival, where Delpak collected a kudo for best sound design. Coincidentally, another bitter social drama about acid attacks on women, first-timer Saeed Roustaei’s “Life+1 Day,” nabbed nine awards, including best first feature.
LOS ANGELES: Kevin Costner has joined Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer in the Fox 2000 drama “Hidden Figures.”
“St. Vincent” director Ted Melfi is attached to helm and produce the film along with Chernin Entertainment and Donna Gigliotti of Levantine Films.
The story centers on Johnson (Henson), a brilliant African-American mathematician who, along with her colleagues Dorothy Vaughn and Mary Jackson, served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in US history — the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and his safe return. Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission in 1962 and became the first American to orbit the Earth.
The three women crossed all gender, race and professional boundaries by embarking on the mission.
Costner will play the head of the space program.
The film is adapted from Margot Lee Shetterly’s book “Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race,” which will be published in September by HarperCollins.
The movie will reunite Costner and Spencer, who recently appeared together in “Black or White,” which earned both actors critical accolades for their performances.
Costner can next be seen opposite Tommy Lee Jones in the thriller “Criminal.”
He is repped by WME, attorney Ryan Nord and Zero Gravity Management.
LOS ANGELES: Music Box Films has snatched up North American rights to Hannes Holm’s Swedish B.O. hit “A Man Called Ove.”
Based on Fredrik Backman’s bestseller, which has been published in more than 30 countries, “A Man Called Ove” is a dramedy centering on a grumpy old man who has given up on everyone including himself. His life get turned upside down when a new family moves in next door.
Pic had a record-breaking opening in Sweden in December and has so far sold over 1.6 million admissions. It currently ranks as the fifth biggest Swedish film of all time. It’s also earned three Gulbagge awards, including a best actor nod for Rolf Lassgard.
“Following our success with previous Swedish box office hits ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ and ‘The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared’ — both also adaptations of internationally best-selling novels — we’re looking forward to bringing ‘A Man Called Ove’ to US audiences,” said Edward Arentz, Music Box Films managing director.
Deal was negotiated at EFM between Music Box Films president, William Schopf and TrustNordisk head of sales Susan Wendt.
“Music Box Films did an amazing job on ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,’ and we are confident that they will bring ‘A Man Called Ove’ to an even higher level” said Wendt.
In Berlin, TrustNordisk sold the movie to Japan (Medallion Media), France (Paradis Films), Spain (Savor), Greece (Videorama), Taiwan (Swallow Wings Films Co.), Lithuania (Scanorama). Previously announced are Germany, Austria (Concorde), Benelux (September Film Rights), Switzerland (Praesens-Film AG), Hungary (Vertigo Media), Estonia (Estin Film) and Korea (Sidus FNH Corporation).
“A Man Called Ove” is produced by Annica Bellander and Nicklas Wikstrom for Tre Vanner. Film i Vast, SVT, Nordisk Film and Nordsvensk Filmunderhallning Fantefilm co-produced.
LOS ANGELES: Universal Pictures has titled its Lonely Island comedy “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping.”
The film stars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone. Samberg portrays singer/rapper Conner4Real, who faces a crisis of popularity after his sophomore album flops. Sarah Silverman, Tim Meadows and Maya Rudolph also star.
The movie is co-directed by Schaffer and Taccone with Judd Apatow on board to produce with Rodney Rothman, Samberg, Taccone and Schaffer. It hits theaters on June 3.
The Lonely Island appeared on “Saturday Night Live” from 2005 to 2011, when Samberg was a cast member and Taccone and Schaffer were writers. They are best known for producing the music videos “Lazy Sunday,” “Dick in a Box,” “Jizz in My Pants,” “Like a Boss” and “I’m on a Boat.”
The Lonely Island also released the 2009 album “Incredibad” and 2011’s “Turtleneck & Chain,” with songs from “SNL” such as “I Just Had Sex” featuring Akon, “The Creep” featuring Nicki Minaj and “Jack Sparrow” featuring Michael Bolton.
Apatow has been a prolific producer of comedies for Universal with “Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Bridesmaids,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek,” “This Is 40,” “Funny People” and “Trainwreck.”
“Popstar” will open against Warner Bros.’s drama “Me Before You” and Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.”