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As a 17-year old, I used to write immature movie critiques for an amateur movie magazine in Iran. Since then, I have created my own film-related web-site (
ofilm.net), gone through extensive film training, and made a couple of short films.

In spite of everything, I still love to watch movies with a critical eye. So to those Iranian.com readers who share my interest, here is my Christmas present, my top 10 movies of 2002.

Some of those movies may have been overlooked by the critics and audiences but nonetheless I, as a devoted film buff who watches 500 movies a year, highly recommend all of them for they have something to offer that most movies these days don't, and that's entertainment combined with depth and intelligence.

1. Y Tu Mama Tambien
DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
Alfonso Cuarn,
Y Tu Mama Tambien (and your Mother Too) explores the world of teenage sexuality while telling an old tale of growing up, loss and class conflict in Mexico. It's a sweet story of two teenage boys who take a road trip with Luisa (Maribel Verdú), an older woman, with marriage problems, whom the boys hope to seduce. But along the way Luisa takes the lead in this seduction game, causing a rift in their friendship.
Y Tu Mama Tambien was one of the few foreign blockbusters of last year' releases. The film's explicit sex scenes, which are very realistic, have caused controversy in the movie's native Mexico.

2. Bowling For Columbine

Directed by
Michael Moore,
Bowling For Columbine is a social critique of America's love affair with guns and violence. Michael Moore, perhaps the most liberal figure in mainstream US media, has no hesitation to tell it as it is.
Bowling For Columbine is Bush neo-conservatives' worst nightmare, exposing them for the the phonies that they are. Michael Moore, director of such movies as
Roger & Me
Canadian Bacon is not actually a great filmmaker but rather a great idealist artist who truly believes in his principles. Iranians may even find
Bowling For Columbine more interesting because of its thorough examination of US foreign policy in such instances as the 1953 American coup against Dr. Mossadegh's elected government.

3. Mulholland Dr.

DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
David Lynch,
Mulholland Dr. is a film I had to watch twice. Seeing it for the first time, the amazing oddity of the story alone made me want to see it again right away. Dsepit that, many of you may not indeed find
Mulholland Dr. a pleasant experience. It is after all a David Lynch film, and what comes with David Lynch brand is usually an orgy of darkness, innocent blond girls, and simple synopsizes. In this case, the synopsis is too simple: “a love story in the city of dreams.” where everything is not what it seems to be, or is it. Just a note of caution; don't try too hard to understand
Mulholland Drive, there is not much to understand in any David Lynch film. His films are open for your own interpretations.

4. Ararat

Directed by
Atom Egoyan,
Ararat examines the Armenian genocide of 1915, when 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered at the hands of Ottoman Turks. But Armenian-Canadian Atom Egoyan's historic examination takes place through and alongside other stories.
Ararat is more like a movie about the genocide within a movie about truth and the illusion of truth. Personally, I really looked forward to and enjoyed watching this movie, for it explicitly shows us the unimaginable suffering of Armenians, many of whom are Iranians, largely overlooked in the recent history.

5. Rabbit-Proof Fence

Directed by
Phillip Novce,
Rabbit-Proof Fence is one of those movies that is certain to make you cry at the end. This true story's ending is so powerful that is impossible not to think about this movie for hours after
The End. Rabbit-Proof Fence is
a real tragedy. The story of Aboriginal Australian kids who were systematically kidnapped by the Australian government in 1930-70 period to be “civilized” or assimilated by “Christian values”.
Rabbit-Proof Fence is also proof of how a former big time Hollywood director like Phillip Novce can still turn out great, personal, small budget films like his recent works
Rabbit-Proof Fence and upcoming
Quiet American.

6. Khaled
(Video/DVD available in Canada)

Directed by Iranian.com's own
Asghar Massombagi,
Khaled is truly an unforgettable experience.
Khaled, entirely shot on DV, is the story of a 10-year-old Moroccan-Canadian boy who lives with his single mother in a Toronto area apartment building. When Khaled's ill mother dies, Khaled keeps her death a secret and tries his best to carry on with school and his daily life as if nothing has changed.
Khaled , though not Iranian or about Iranians, is so poetic and touching that
Iranian is written all over it.

7. One Hour Photo
DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
Mark Romanek,
One Hour Photo is a classic Hitchcockian thriller in the tradition of
Psycho, Taxi Driver, The Conversation, The Tenant and
The Passenger. I am not personally a big fan of thriller genre, yet Robin Williams's magnificent performances in this movie in the role of a lonely photo guy who covets the lives of a seemingly perfect family, makes this movie one not to miss.

8. Baran
DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
Majid Majidi,
Baran , last year's biggest Iranian release in North America
, is beautifully shot and composed but lacks essential drama. Over the years, Majidi has proven his ability to create unforgettable dramas in such great movies as
Children of Heaven and
Color of Paradise. But
Baran, although more artistically sophisticated than his previous movies, is not Majidi's best film. In spite of that, I would highly recommend it for it is still without a doubt one of the best movies of the year.
Baran is a love story involving a young Iranian who takes his obsession with an Afghan girl to the point of almost throwing away his life for her and her family.

9. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
Peter Care,
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys is a coming-of-age story of a group of teenagers set in North Carolina in the 1970s. It's amazing that I was not even born in 1970's, yet for some strange reason I have a nostalgic obsession with anything that has something to do with 1970's. This movie is an exception though. For it's not only set 1970's, but it's also one of the most creative, funny and ultimately tragic coming-of-age movies I have ever seen.

10. Secret Ballot
DVD from Amazon.com)

Directed by
Babak Payami,
Secret Ballot is based on one of Mohsen Makhmalbaf's short films entitled
Test of Democracy. I have not personally seen the original short film, but I think
Secret Ballot would have been a much better film, had it been made by Makhmalbaf himself. Don't get me wrong, Babak Payami is a great director. He is just a bit too conservative to make a political movie about the election process in Iran. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend
Secret Ballot for its beautiful cinematography and gentle argument for a modern civil society in Iran.

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