Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Smell of Camphor, Fragrance of Jasmine 

Iranian filmmaker Bahman Farmanara produced one of Abbas Kiarostami's early features and won praise for his own work, including Prince Ehtejab (1974). But state officials began rejecting his film proposals in the mid-70s, and for much of the past 30 years he's lived in the West. In this welcome comeback (2000) he plays a middle-aged director, rather like himself, who ruefully agrees to make a documentary about Iranian death rituals for Japanese TV. His wife has been dead five years (Farmanara's wife, to whom he dedicated the film, was alive and well), and after discovering that their cemetery has planted someone else next to her, he has the strange experience of witnessing his own funeral, one of many fantasy sequences. This oddball comedy is full of wry asides and unexpected details; ultimately it's more memorable for its ideas than its sounds and images, but it's still fascinating and entertaining. In Farsi with subtitles. 93 min. Thu 3/10, 7 PM, Univ. of Chicago Doc Films.

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