Men At Work AKA Kargaran Mashghoole Karand
R1 - America - Film Movement
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak and Stevie McCleary (6th December 2007).
The Film

Often when watching the opening of a film I will sometimes, usually after some swelling of inspirational music or a pause in some expositional dialogue, jokingly exclaim;
"The End."
It's just a lame thing I do that always seems to elicit a giggle when timed correctly. You should try it sometime. The main reason I'm thinking about this is because that joke and my plot synopsis for this film have much in common...just without any intentional intended humor on my part.
"Men at Work" is the story of four middle-aged men, who are traveling together to a sporting event, when they come across a big rock on the side of the road. They try to move it. The end.
No, seriously. That's it, that's the whole thing. Men...moving a rock. Okay sure, maybe not quite just that. While trying to move that phallic stone they come into contact with many passer-bys who help and hinder their mission...but it's still 'four men trying to move a rock' for 77 minutes. Now I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, I'm just fearful of my review not seeming thorough enough, despite already containing everything that happens in the film.
And so I must admit that I find myself struggling for what to say. I figured, after thinking long and hard about men trying to move a rock, that this was potentially a political allegory or a metaphorical insight into the mid-crisis male mind. And so in the midst of writing complicated notes on these potential theories, I opened the DVD case...and discovered an interview on the inside cover with the Director, Mani Haghighi. In this interview he states that any insight like that is 'creative license' as he deliberately made the film the way he did so people could choose to see what they wanted to see...but that at his end all he did was make a film about four men and a rock. He wanted to make the opposite of an allegory and focus on the straight story itself. Now while this means he still injects a healthy amount of human drama into his story, it also means that any levels deeper than the ones on the surface do not exist in his eyes. I find the director's attitude and concept quite interesting, as he wanted to avoid the same old poverty-stricken third world storytelling that populates most films made involving his country.
This led me into my next issue. I was hoping, with the bare bones of the plot, to discuss the acting which would have to carry the narrative by itself. However, this is an Iranian made film. The language is Farsi and, while Farsi is a pleasant dialect to listen to, when you don't understand the language someone is speaking there is often no real way to judge inflection or pace, and especially not in a quiet piece of film like this. That being said, the entire cast does a fine job (I think) in all their roles. They all seem to fit together, which means there are no real stand-outs, but it seems like a believable quartet of friends and incidentals.
So, I'm left without much to say on the subject of "Men at Work"...and that is frustrating. I guess if one was a huge follower of independent film then one would enjoy watching these types of stories. I can appreciate it yet am not a huge devotee myself, which is why I feel I am lacking in further deconstruction of the material. I can confirm at least that this particular story does not contain any questionable material, and is for the most part safe for all consumers. It is a quiet tale that borders on charming at times. Can I recommend it? Um...sure? I mean don't rush out to watch it...but if a slice of life tale of human characters roaming around a rock, looking for a way to move it, is your cup of tea...by all means, drink up.

Video

Presented in the film's original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1 this transfer is presented non-anamorphically, which is a bit of a disappointment considering just about everything in widescreen should be released with an anamorphic transfer. I also found that there are a few flaws with this transfer, while some scenes appear sharp other appear flat and soft. Blacks are a bit murky and I spotted one instance of wobble. Some light compression artefacts also pop up in this rather lackluster presentation.

Audio

A single Farsi Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track is included and it's about as average as they come, dialogue is clear but the track lacks depth and range. The music does really do much to immerse the viewer, for an independent low budget film it does the job but it could have been much better.
Subtitles are English-only and are burned-in.

Extras

The first is a short film entitled "Hold Up". It's a 2006 production by Madeleine Olnek and runs for 7 minutes 25 seconds. The film is about a couple that rob a store but it turns out the teller is the girl's ex-lover.

Also included are 1 page text bios for:

- Director Mani Haghighi
- Atilla Pesiani
- Mahmoud Kalari
- Ahmad Hamed
- Omid Roohani
- Reza Kianian
- Mahnaz Afshar

Bonus trailers for other Film Movement titles are also included for:

- "Wilby Wonderful" which runs for 2 minutes 41 seconds.
- "Campfire" which runs for 2 minutes 17 seconds.
- "Film Movement" spot which runs for 31 seconds.

Plus a single text page is included that lists other titles available at the Film Movement website.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: C Audio: B- Extras: C Overall: C+

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.