[THE STONING OF SORAYA M. (2008)]
Every time I write a political post I take my life in my own hands.
Because I let everyone have it.
Out into the ether.
An equal opportunity whistle-blower.
And so I must let you know that this is almost a great movie.
Yet, I’m not even sure if it’s a good movie.
Let me explain.
The Stoning of Soraya M. was released at a very suspicious time.
By a very suspicious (and talented) director.
All through the George W. Bush presidency there was a pervasive itch…a green tide of bile just waiting to drown the country of Iran.
First we reduced one of the poorest countries on Earth (Afghanistan) to rubble. It was mostly rubble to begin with.
Our military had trouble finding high-value targets to hit. There were none.
Then our trumped-up intelligence hit the big stage: the U.N. General Assembly.
Colin Powell knowingly lied. The U.S. intelligence community was used as a pawn.
The intel was being propped beneath a faulty case like a gratis jack beneath a compact car.
Remember? The Downing Street memo?
And so we knocked off another country. Iraq. The neo-con wargasm really kicked in. No doubt the poet Ed Sanders was unsurprised. He coined the phrase wargasm and had been documenting the demented drive of American bloodlust for decades.
And then the steamroller sputtered.
Iran was always next.
Always. Always. Next month. This fall. Imminent.
Praise be to God that the neo-con luck ran out. Like the serial killers they are, their ability to trick and deceive abated.
And what the hell does any of this have to do with the film I’m reviewing?
Quite simply, the film I’m reviewing is perfect propaganda to bomb the hell out of Iran.
It was premiered in the final months of the Bush junta.
Perhaps the director and producers had dragged their heels a bit.
Perhaps they realized they were being used?
But the story goes deeper.
Director Cyrus Nowrasteh is best known for directing a two-part ABC miniseries called The Path to 9/11. It is “controversial”…which is to say, it is critical of the U.S. government…but only in the most kid-gloves, “oh they should have killed more Muslims” kind of way. To reframe my argument, Cyrus Nowrasteh was already a propagandist whether he knew it or not.
And that’s where this film comes in.
Let me start by saying that the acting in this film is fantastic. The direction is stellar (yes, the guy I was just insulting has world-class talent).
What we must ask ourselves is this: was this film merely meant to pull on the heartstrings like a flippant Laura Bush quote about the Taliban or was Nowrasteh sincere in this unfortunately-timed release?
I believe the director was sincere.
In fact, I believe the director is the parallel of the character Ebrahim in this film.
Ebrahim is the mayor of a small town in Iran.
Ebrahim wants to do the right thing, but he is tricked.
Even so, Ebrahim is a victim of dogma. Ebrahim’s a dumb-ass.
And yet, we respect him somewhat.
The same goes for Nowrasteh.
If my reading of The Path to 9/11 is correct, then Nowrasteh has never considered the possibility that the United States attacked itself on 9/11. Adding further color to that false-flag would be the involvement of Israel.
One thing is certain: it seems that Nowrasteh showed a shocking lack of curiosity when making The Path to 9/11.
Fool me once, Cyrus…shame on…
And so then Nowrasteh gets to direct this piece of cinema. It is cinema. But how much can we invest our hearts in a story told by a facilitator of untruths?
It pains me to discount the amazing acting of Mozhan Marnò.
And I do not discount it.
She is one of the most talented actresses I have witnessed in a long time.
The same goes for Shohreh Aghdashloo. Tremendous thespian skills!
And Nowrasteh (whom I’ve spent “paragraphs” berating)…what a talent!
But is that talent misdirected? [no pun intended]
I’m not cowing to Iran.
I have nothing to gain. I have everything to lose.
This film, on its own merits, is extremely remarkable.
But taken in the context of Hollywood propaganda, it becomes suspect.
The Mullah in the film is a scumbag.
The husband is a scumbag.
The town mayor is essentially a scumbag (dupe).
There are very few subtle shadings of character here.
We end up with an unfortunate equation.
Iran = bad.
Islam = bad.
Islamic men = bad.
Islamic women = good.
The equation is begging for some stealth bombers to fill the gap and vaporize those Muslim men. “Liberate” those Muslim women.
Come on: we’re pros at it! Look at our resume!! Afghanistan? Check. Iraq? Check. This is our line of work!
We’ll give it a snappy name like Enduring Freedom (how much of our “freedom” can they endure?) and it’ll be over in a few weeks.
We’ll be greeted as saviors.
Let me point out one final detail.
There are some sub-equations here.
Shah = good/bad.
Ayatollah = bad.
And so, mathematicians of ethics, how does the SAVAK compute?
What was Mosaddegh’s good/bad rating?
All we ask in cinema is for a real story. If you don’t pimp yourself out to the bomb boys, then the Palme d’Or is yours.
Perhaps I am wrong.
I am willing to admit that I may be wrong.
If you can’t tell by the title of this film how it ends (don’t see Titanic), Soraya gets stoned. As in murdered. As in disgusting.
But what is most disgusting?
Hypocrisy. The film starts with a quote by Hafez.
The corrupt Mullah is no worse than the military-industrial director.
And for those of immense talent (like Nowrasteh), there is always redemption in the next film.
Tell the real story. Read a book.
The path to 9/11 almost certainly started in Langley and Herzliya.
One or the other.
Or was it the old boys network of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Poppy Bush?
Somebody better get it straight or this world ain’t going nowhere good.
Help us out Cyrus! The truth will free both our countries.