Updated RankingsThe Cyclist
(1987 or 1989)★ ★ ★ - Good
A television early in plays They Shoot Horses, Donít They?, and thatís the inspiration for this unsubtle and slightly surreal film about a man desperate for money who agrees to ride a bicycle in a small circle for a week without stopping. Filmmaking is rough in places, but Makhmalbaf manages to answer all logic questions while playing the circus that surrounds this Ace in the Hole for all the metaphor itís got. Script is full of surprises with many groups rooting against the poor man for personal and political reasons.The Peddler
(1989)★ ★ Ĺ
Trilogy of shorts about people living a bleak, harsh existence. I give Makhmalbaf points for finding moments of dark humor and irony that keep the stories from being one-note. The middle tale is my favorite thanks to a surprise turn followed by a nice ending of spiritual grace. The final story didnít work for me at all except for the way it thematically rounds out the film.The President
(2014)★ ★ Ĺ
There are clever ideas and surprises in the beginning, as we watch economical storytelling of this dictator and his son who end up on the run after a successful coup. The bulk of the film is the former powerful leader getting to know the least of his people, and Makhmalbaf goes too far out of his way to avoid any bog realizations or even small ones. We see the President get humbled and humiliated, but he always behaves as if this is just a temporary nightmare. The life lessons never get under his skin to create a satisfying dramatic transformation.