A Dragon Arrives!
Directed by Mani Haghighi
An orange Chevrolet Impala drives across a cemetery towards an abandoned shipwreck in the middle of a desert landscape. It is the 22nd of January, 1965. The day before, the Iranian prime minister was shot dead in front of the parliament building. Inside the wreck, a banished political prisoner has hung himself. The walls are covered in diary entries, literary quotes and strange symbols. Can they help Police Inspector Babak Hafizi in his investigations? Will they shed any light on why there is always an earthquake whenever somebody is buried in this desert cemetery?
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★★★½ review by Filipe Furtado on Letterboxd
A Ruizian whatisit taking from depths of local cinema myths. Part tall tale about a cursed cemetery who might or not have a creature inside creating earthquakes every time a new grave is filled, part paranoid government cover up, part hall of mirrors documentary about its own making, all based in the true story of a sound engineer disappearance from the set of Ebrahim Golestan’s The Brick and the Mirror (a great film, BTW). It keep adding new layers, shifting genres and contradicting itself while remaining engrossing and full of well-imagined playful detours.
★★★★ review by Steve Austin on Letterboxd
Effortlessly switches genres (talking-heads doco, Euro crime, adventure movie, head trip, experimental cut-up), sometimes mid-scene with aplomb and joy.
Great well-fleshed out characters in an extremely odd tightly scripted situation.
About as true a story as a Coen Brothers film, which is apt, as this is what I'm left feeling it is most like by the end.
★★★½ review by Guilherme Martins on Letterboxd
De todas as questões que ele suscita, mudanças de registro, se este era mesmo o melhor caminho para contar esta história, se ele poderia - ou não - ter uns 15 minutos a menos, aquilo que mais me cativou: de onde surgiu esse cara que encena tão bem?
★★★★ review by Michael Scott on Letterboxd
Taking honours for the most bizarre mash-up at the festival, Mani Haghighi's A Dragon Arrives uncomfortably fuses together mockumentary, making-of, and period supernatural action adventure. The Frankenstein monster that results is as thrilling as it is incomprehensible.
Haghighi plays of his film's disorienting structure, framing reality within fiction within reality, till one has to just throw one's hands in the air and go along for the ride. With cinematographer Hooman Behmanesh, the hammering music of Cristof Rezaei to accompany, and a trio of charismatic and very stylish leads (Amir Jadidi, Homayoun Ghanizadeh and Ehsan Goodarzi) that ride is well worth it.
I'm hoping someone picks this up for a season sometime later in the year because behind the landlocked Portuguese shipwrecks, underground monsters and secret police, I'm convinced A Dragon Arrives has further secrets to reveal, including some cleverly disguised political commentary.
If nothing else, I'd get to jump on the roller-coaster again.
★★★★ review by Jacob Powell on Letterboxd
If 1960s Hollywood fever-dreamed in Farsi, it might get halfway to the Pollock-like ‘pour it and see’ genius of Mani Haghighi’s A Dragon Arrives!
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