Winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, A Separation puts us in the position of the adjudicator (quite literally in the first shot) of a conflict between a husband and a wife. Nader (Peyman Moadi) wants to keep his family together in Tehran, and Simin (Leila Hatami) wants to pursue a career outside of the country. The main point of contention is their daughter (Sarina Farhadi), whom Nader wants to keep around to help him with his ailing father (Ali-Asghar Shahbazi) and whom Simin wants to come with her so that the daughter may have more opportunity. Out of this comes a mystery revolving around Razieh (Sareh Bayat), a woman Nader hires to care for his father, and a chance to see the strange, irrational workings of the Iranian justice system. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Sacha Baron Cohen, who is famous for fooling people into thinking his characters are real people and convincing those people to say foolish things, plays a fictional dictator of a fictional North African nation in The Dictator, and, for once, everything around him is fictional, too. There are no comic Happenings here, only the story of Admiral General Aladeen, an incompetent totalitarian ruler who thinks missiles should be pointy because his “research” on the subject comes from cartoons, who finds himself secretly deposed and wandering New York City to develop a plan to regain power. The humor comes from the shock of what Aladeen says and does, and Baron Cohen’s simplistic caricature has a robust enough personality to keep it going. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.