Kandahar. Mohsen Makhmalbaf. It would be easy, and tempting, for a critic to hail Kandahar as a masterpiece without even seeing it: It's a foreign film, it takes on social issues, it's directed by Iranian master Makhmalbaf, it speaks to the causes of our war on terror and first hit U.S. shores right as the city of Kandahar fell to the Northern Alliance. The film is astonishingly well made and also very accessible to those unaccustomed to Iranian cinema; almost half the dialogue is in English and the story plays like a feminist's Apocalypse Now: An expatriated Afghan journalist (Nelofer Pazira, who attempted a similar journey in real life) must journey from Iran into Afghanistan, and the heart of darkness that is Taliban-controlled Kandahar, to stop her despondent sister from committing suicide. Frustratingly, though, the film ends before the journey is concluded. It isn't possible to spoil the ending, for there really isn't one: The quest simply continues out of our sight. It's as if The Fellowship of the Ring were titled Mordor and had no guaranteed sequels. The journey's a worthwhile one nonetheless, full of images of absurd tragedy you have to see to believe; just don't go looking for closure. Opens March 8 at the Tivoli. (LYT)
The Time Machine. Simon Wells. Opens March 8 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.