The Shop Around the Corner (Lubitsch, 1940, A+)
One of Lubitsch's very best comedies, and that's saying quite a lot. The characterization is complex and the social context is subtly worked in despite the simplicity of the narrative. An elegantly composed, superbly performed gem.
Selected Images from the Qajar Dynasty (Makhmalbaf, 1993, C)
Makhmalbaf's collection of archival images and videos look enchanting, but his editing and soundtrack expose him as an ideologue and obscure the film into irrelevance.
Once Upon a Time, Cinema (Makhmalbaf, 1991, B+)
Though the gimmick begins to run out of steam before the end of the film, Makhmalbaf's love letter to cinema and Iranian film history through the perspective of the Qajar shahs who became obsessed with the cinematograph machine is inventive, entertaining, illuminating, nostalgic and absolutely hilarious.
Marriage of the Blessed (Makhmalbaf, 1989, D-)
Overwrought, overdirected, overcooked and overstuffed with ideas that never coalesce, this film is emblematic of Makhmalbaf's worst tendencies as a director. Marriage never achieves any form of coherence or dramatic gravitas, instead suffocating the audience with sociopolitical messages and black and white, archetypal, grand-scale characterizations.
Croesus's Treasure (Yasami, 1965, D-)
Mildly amusing since, as the most popular B-movie in Iranian film history, it provides insight into the interests of the movie-going public at the time, but otherwise atrocious on every single level: illogical absence of any causality, inconsistent pacing, offensive politics and a botched amalgam of imitated Hollywood and Bollywood styles.
The Night It Rained (Shirdel, 1967, A+)
Shirdel's most experimental work taps into the Iranian psyche, the nature of truth and the shortcomings of the Iranian regime by examining from multiple perspectives the story of a village boy who tried to save a train from an accident. Hypnotic, perceptive and complex in both construction and reach.