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Careless Crime

A woman standing between two men in "Careless Crime."
November 20, 2021 - 7:30 pm
In-person: 
writer-director Shahram Mokri.


Careless Crime

Jenayat-e Bi Deghat

Iran, 2020

In each of his features, Iranian writer-director Shahram Mokri bends narrative into a Möbius strip until past, present and future seem to converge into a single moment unfolding on-screen. Mokri shot both his quasi thrillers Fish & Cat (2013) and Invasion (2017) in a single take to build suspense and dread, his camera moving in an intricate, astonishing choreography with his ensemble casts that upends traditional rules of cinematic time and space. In his latest, Careless Crime, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, Mokri’s supple avant-gardism comes paired with an emergent political dimension. At the center of its kaleidoscopic structure is an arsonist plot to set fire to a movie theater while a capacity audience is watching a film. Running in parallel are a student film group organizing a controversial screening and a movie-within-a-movie about government authorities investigating an illicit film screening at a campground. All of these storylines seem to begin at different times and places, one of them explicitly “fictional,” but then seem to converge over time with scenes repeated from different perspectives, intercut with historical notes about the history of cinema in Iran, including the infamous 1978 Cinema Rex fire in Abadan that killed 420 moviegoers there to see Masoud Kimiai’s The Deer (1974). A horrific act of arson, it’s considered the flashpoint that sparked the Iranian Revolution. The attack hangs over Mokri’s intricate, magisterially constructed cinematic puzzle to suggest a portrait of contemporary Iran trapped by its revolutionary history in an infinite loop of tragedy.

DCP, color, in Farsi with English subtitles, 139 min. Director: Shahram Mokri. Screenwriter: Nasim Ahmadpour, Shahram Mokri. With: Babak Karimi, Razieh Mansouri, Abolfazl Kahani.

Thanks to Dennis Bartok, Deaf Crocodile Films.

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