Ashkan, the Charmed Ring and Other Stories (2008)


Ashkan, the Charmed Ring and Other Stories Storyline

A crime drama with the underlying premise that, no matter how improbable, everything is connected in one way or another. Featuring the hilarious and mysterious stories of a motley assortment of characters as their fates and journeys uncomprehendingly intertwine. From two blind robbers planning their latest heist to a suicidal young man who offers to help in their crime. From a police officer hopelessly in love with a cashier to a charmed ring that spells disaster for whoever wears it. Debut director Shahram Mokri weaves together the various narrative threads with storytelling flair. Filled with black humor and plentiful twists and turns, ‘Ashkan, the ‘Charmed Ring and Other Stories’ is a stunning accomplishment, a latter-day ‘Pulp Fiction’.—

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Ashkan, the Charmed Ring and Other Stories Movie Reviews

A 90 minute joy ride!

I saw the film just a few hours back at the 11th Mumbai Film Festival and i have to say that i was completely blown away by the film. This stands true not only for me but also for the rest of the people sitting in that auditorium. It is, by far, one of the best screen plays that i have seen in a long long time. I felt that the film had a Tarantinoesque quality to it … and at just 90 minutes, its a sure shot joy ride for the ones who enjoy a non-linear screen play format … and whether you enjoy a non-linear narrative or no, this one is a must watch. The film is very hilarious and intelligent at the same time. This is one combination that is difficult to find in today’s cinema. Overall, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Its a crazy & hilarious story line.

Two blind men rob a jeweler’s store with a help of a man who has tries to commit suicide 14 times, a charmed ring the spells disaster for whoever wears it, a fish that killed 1 man and led to arrest of a couple with bags full of cash. Its a crazy & hilarious story line, you have to watch it to understand it. I saw this film at MAMI Film Festival, I must say it was pleasantly different film then what we are normally used to of seeing as Iranian Cinema. Hats off to the director for pulling such a complex narrative, a very good story and very good performances. The dialogs were superb (though I saw it in English subtitles, I still laughed at the dialogs) and great direction. I can say this without any doubt that “Ashkan, angoshtar-e motebarek va dastan-haye digar” is the Pulp Fiction of Iranian Cinema and the Director Shahram Mokri is the Quentin Tarantino of Iran, only less gory. The film was a bit slow at places but it was so good and funny that I would let it go.

Smart story, superlative story-telling.

The unassumingly titled Irani film ‘Ashkan The Charmed Ring and other stories’ follows the now-popular hyperlinked storytelling pattern that is not exactly episodic like ‘Pulp Fiction’ and not interconnected in a cyclic chain like ‘Crash’. It follows its own unique style, intersecting individual episodes at several instances and going back and forth in time while following a non-linear narrative.

A disappointed sculptor wishes to immigrate. Two blind men decide to rob a jewelry shop. A policeman loves a saleswoman and his subordinate colleague loves a movie star. Two killers are reformed and become nice guys. A young man, who wants to commit suicide, causes some problems. However, everyone’s destiny is changed when a strange fish is freed and a charmed ring is moved.

The film defies the traditional screen writing approach that needs lead characters to be well-established and the plot to have sufficient depth in it. The characters here are abruptly introduced and have no background account but one doesn’t wish to know more about them beyond their contribution to the plot. Each of the subplots is short and shallow but the real beauty lies in the way it’s interconnected with other subplots. The storytelling is erratic as it changes tracks and timeframes without any warning but when you comprehend its correlation to other tracks, it leaves you absolutely amazed. It’s like solving a jigsaw puzzle or joining the dots where you excitement rises the more you get close to connecting the pieces.

Unlike most films in this storytelling pattern that attempt to become too dark or intense, there is an underlying tone of humour running throughout this film. And the humour is absolutely subtle coming out of real life events even in the most improbable of sequences like in a guy’s attempt to commit suicide. Another scene has a policeman shopping repeatedly in a mall to bump into the girl at the counter who he loves.

One doesn’t quite understand the use of black-and-white colour scheme as it doesn’t add any visual appeal to the film. But the storytelling is so spellbinding that once you are glued to the narrative, you completely forget the monochrome limitation. Cinematographer Payam Azizi shoots almost every intersecting scene of the screenplay in at least two different angles to show individual perspectives and then Editor Arash Rasafi very intelligently clubs the scenes together to connect the subplots. The background score by Abuzar Saffarian has an amusing appeal to it.

The scene that deserves a special mention is one where a medical college professor is attempting to logically explain his students the reason of death of a corpse from the morgue, while the actual reason of death of the person is absolutely opposite to his logic. Instead of opening in a flashback, the death scene of the victim plays parallel to the professor’s lecture, occupying half frame of the screen. The way in which the scene is conceptualized, enacted, edited and shot is hilarious.

This is one film which is smart on story and superlative of story-telling.

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