starring Mania Akbari, Amin Maher, Kamran Adl, Roya Arabashi
written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami
starring Oksana Akinshina, Artyom Bogucharsky, Lyubov Agapova, Liliya Shinkaryova
written and directed by Lukas Moodysson
by Walter Chaw The plight of women in oppressive and/or emerging cultures, on film, is a slipstream metaphor for the travails of all the citizenry of that place and, from there, the existential struggle of modern man--a heavy burden, to be sure, and one that forever teeters on the precipice of trite to the one side, affected to the other. (With "condescending" the great beast, crouched and ready to pounce.) Women are too often grail repositories of fear and loathing--indicator species, much like children in film, to be examined for hints of what's toxic in the spirit of the time. That two foreign films by male directors find their way to the United States in fast company of one another, dealing with the plight of women (all women, all society, all the world) in ways frank and raw, is arguably not so much coincidence, then, as a synchronicity that, no matter their relative success, represents a sharp spur and a whip to the collective flank.