Ihsan

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam

Dave Chappelle has said, "I wish I had more hands, so I could give this four thumbs down!" There is nothing closer to the truth after painfully watching The Keeper.

Running late to the movies, I thought I would not be able to get a ticket. I wish I had bought it earlier. This would probably be true for any other movie - not for The Keeper. My friend and I arrived perfectly on time. Matter of fact, it seemed we were the only one's watching the movie. As walked into the theater there were two other people besides us. I later deduced the other two people in the theater were the director Kayvan Mashayekh and his friend. I had never before considered asking for my money back, so if anyone out there has his address please let me know as I would like to get my money back since I can't get my time back.

Now you may be asking yourselves, "Loser Brother, why do you dislike the movie so much?" I had really wanted to see the movie. As an Islamic history buff I looked very forward to the movie, and even convinced my friend to see it (he wanted to see "The Wedding Crashers," which in retrospect would have been the right move). I was totally let down. I wasn't expecting much, but "The Keeper" is probably the worst movie I've ever seen. What I've been amazed by is the response from Muslims on email lists and their praise for the film, which was initially one of the reasons I even went to see the movie; it seemed to me that I had hedged my bets. Boy was I wrong.

If there were one fault in the movie that leads to its downfall it has to be that the director simply went for too much. Too much Islamic history. Too much personal information about an Irani family. Too much focus on sets and scenery. It seems the director ignored perhaps the most important aspect of the movie – the acting. The acting was terrible! Instead of investing so heavily in costumes, and on-location filming, he would have been better off hiring some talented actors. The only exception to this is Vanessa Redgrave, who can also be seen in the various Harry Potter movies. I got through the movie by laughing at parts which I later learned were very serious issues. Kayvan, next time you make a movie please, please hire some real actors (and a get a better looking heroine).

The movie is very rough and unnecessary scene changes are a hallmark of the film. One aspect that I was particularly bothered by was the intermittent change of the narrator’s language. Initially, the narrator speaks in English, but the narrator then changes and so to changes to Farsi, and changes yet again to English. Why? I don’t know. The director should instead have stuck with one narrator and one language.

All and all the movie forces issues on to the audience in an incredibly contrived manner – there is no subtlety or nuance…we are instead bludgeoned by it as everything is explained in nauseating detail. We learn of the dying brother, the keeper of the family. We learn of the struggles of the Irani patriarch struggling to make it in Texas: The younger brother who is forced to rise to the challenge of being the keeper; The younger sister who seems to focus only on her music; and the disconnected mother. That would have been more than enough, were the issues properly developed. We are then forced to deal with the intricacies of Islamic history in Iran in equally choppy manner. Personally, I wish the director had focused more on this area. If that weren’t enough the director does a similar job with the life of Omar Khayyam as he does with the Irani family from Texas – a hodge podge of various issues with their only communality being that they come frame after frame.

Even now I continue to receive emails about how great this movie is. Before going I read the reviews and felt it was a safe bet – wrong. If you can avoid seeing this movie, do so. But, perhaps you’re out on a date – then this is the best movie to see since you’ll be the only two people in a dark room for hours, barring that the director doesn’t show up with a friend.

4 comment(s):

  • OK - but umm... this review is written by someone named "Loser Brother" so...

    By Anonymous just call me winner, at 9/12/2005 04:32:00 PM  

  • I dont see the relevance of your ad hominem towards the review. Did you like the movie?

    By Blogger Loser Brother, at 9/13/2005 01:16:00 AM  

  • Salam LB
    I also heard from a woman who saw the movie that women characters were few and far between and she thought this was a very negative thing as at the time of Khayyam women were very active in public life. Wondered what you thought about that.


    By Blogger Anna in Portland (was Cairo), at 9/15/2005 01:21:00 AM  

  • Wasalam Anna,

    To be honest I didn't think about it till now. I don't think the movie is trying to be Hodgson's book. But, I also don't think the guy had a budget for it. As it is, his actors generally sucked...horrible acting.

    The only woman is Khayyam's love interest with whom he is shown fornicating...in a really cheesy love scene. Now whether or not this happened aside...why go with such an unattractive actress. Maybe like the Godfather III there was some nepotism involved...who knows.

    But in the defense of the director, the movie isn't really a historical ly based movie. Its bobs in and out. Plus I was too busy thinking how the movie sucked to focus on the historical aspects. That and Hasan al-Sabbah comes off more like an al-Qaeda member than anything else...some really corny with us or against us type of post 9/11 lines.

    It seems he invested too much on the location and costumes. But its easier to tear somethind down than create it. Most reviewers seems to have enjoyed the movie...maybe i'm just a curmudgeon.


    By Blogger Loser Brother, at 9/15/2005 01:18:00 PM  

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