The new Kiosk documentary “Kiosk, A Generation Destroyed By Madness” is a wonderful behind the scenes peek into one of our best rock bands. If like me you have followed the rise of Kiosk ever since their ground breaking debut album “Adameh Mamooli”, and own every album since, you naturally want to see and hear and read and watch more.
This film does a great job of feeding the hungry. It takes you back into the genesis of Kiosk, from the very first guitar that the lead guitarist and band founder, Arash Sobhani received from his Dad on a trip, who disassembled it and smuggled it into Iran in different suitcases, to fond memory pictures of the young teenager with big hair and pimples, playing too fast with his school chums at parties and informal gigs held in the Tehran homes in the suburbs. I think I was even at one of those parties. Maybe not, but it sure feels endearingly familiar.
The other thing about the film I liked was we finally get to know the other members of this familial band, and how they came to be part of the phenomenon. It is a good assemblage of good people.
Especially enjoyable was finally meeting Tara Kamangar. Not just because she’s pretty and I’m not gay, but because the entire concept is just so unusual for an Iranian band. I look for more from Tara. Hint, let her sing.
What is surprising is how spread out everyone is. Some live in Canada some in NY and so on. A testament to the hard work and effort it must take to produce this quality of albums, and practice songs for concerts, when everyone is so spread out. How they are able to do it consistently for these many years is nothing short of astounding. After all they are an Iranian band. According to that standard, they should have broken up 3 times by now, and reformed twice. With former band members splitting off in anger and enmity, to go their own scoffing way. While using the same band name. If nothing else, Kiosk proves, Iranians can get along, that they can be creative, and more importantly they can succeed as a team.
If only Kiosk could be Iran’s national football team!
Of course this takes great leadership, and if you’ve ever spoken to Sobhani, you know that he is at once demanding, yet generous, and a genuinely kind hearted soul. And his eyes twinkle when he grins. He can be bad. In a good way.
Or all this mellowness, could simply be a result the weed. God how I hope my favorite Iranian band smokes grass! That would be so excellent to know!
The only part of the film I could have done without is the depressing effect that the Iranian condition has had on the members of the band and collectively. We’ve known that Sobhani’s lyrics are always tinged with a subtly seductive and occasionally salacious stab at the corruption of the Iranian leadership, and smart sweet cries of objection at the many injustices delivered daily to Iranians at their hand, but that is not what I want to see in this film.
I want hope, not despair. Optimism, not pointlessness. A thin chance of victory, not another reminder of defeat.
Because by recounting the history of the Iranian revolution for us one more time, it’s kind of like an ad for it. How successful it has been. To extinguish any hope that music can inspire. If they had left out the whole part about how the revolution has bummed them out, it could have been an inspirational film. A gritty look behind the scenes at how music can inspire a generation. How it cannot be stopped by something so insignificant as mere tyranny. That music always wins.
But like always seems to happen with us, self doubt, self defeatism, and an all too easy resignation and surrender, seems to dominate whatever we think of doing. Even when we’re winning at it.
The truth is that the music of Kiosk has in fact splendidly liberated us. It has beautifully spoken when we cannot speak. It has uplifted and driven home and permanented it into our hearts, that which cannot be denied.
When we listen to Kiosk we cannot help but celebrate being free. Kiosk music is by far certainly a very celebration of freedom. And for that I am not sad. I am stoked beyond expression.
I am lucky, I get to go see them in concert now and then. But even if you cannot see them perform live in front of your face and pray for a bead of Sobhani’s sweat or spit to hit you in the eye, or land in your half drunken mouth, you can still listen to the music. And for most, it is just like being there. That’s what music does. It takes you where you want to go. And no one, not even God can stop you from going there.
Technically the film is flawless which is extremely rare for Iranians. A special kudos to Ala Mohseni who thankfully departed from the all too tempting Iroony film he was undoubtedly pressured to make, and made an actual properly traditional standard “behind the scenes of a rock band” film instead.
I think that we believe our own press about our film too much. We tend to think that we make good films. We especially believe foreigners when they agree with us. But everyone is merely in on the conspiracy. Our films mostly, actually suck. Kiarostami sucks. Sorry. He just does. Black and white, using actors who’ve never acted before? Really? That’s the “Brilliant Technique”? I’m not so sure.
Then again, what do I know, I liked Ironman 3. Too.