With this beautiful and evocative film set in Armenia and Canada, Atom Egoyan (Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter) filtered his abiding obsessions into the most compact form he's yet achieved. Egoyan himself stars as a photograp... more »her sent to Armenia to document historic churches for a calendar commission. He takes along his wife as a translator (played by Egoyan's real-life wife and frequent star Arsinée Khanjian), but their relationship begins to unravel as she becomes more and more drawn to her ethnic roots and to their Armenian guide.« less
"CALENDAR tells the story of a Canadian photographer (played by the director) who travels to his native Armenia for a calendar project. His wife (played by Egoyan's real-life partner, Arsinee Khanjian)accompanies him and tensions arise as her love for Armenia conflicts with her husband's estrangement from it. The film shifts between past and present, between scenes from the trip to Armenia and scenes back in Canada, after the break-up. A Canadian/Armenian/German (!) co-production that cost less than $80,000 to make, Calendar has never received wide distribution and is still largely unknown, even among Egoyan's admirers. That being said, it may be the director's finest effort to date. The intimate observations of marital breakdown in Calendar may not even begin to approach the grand-scale tragedy of Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, but it is no less effective than those works as an innovatively structured narrative that shrewdly withholds and dispenses information. Like the aforementioned Egoyan projects (released a few years after Calendar and both breakthroughs for the director), Calendar makes the most of cutting back and forth between past and present and also employs video footage more extensively than any of Egoyan's other films. The video footage is weaved seamlessly into the narrative and provides an effective commentary on the photographer's detachment from reality and his distancing from the past. All this might make the film sound extremely heavy and pretentious, but the director succeeds at making his points without being overly oblique or esoteric. In fact, what really deserves praise in this film is the sly humour that is sometimes missing in Egoyan's other films. While the film never downplays the dramatic issues at hand, scenes in Calendar almost always have some rich undercurrent of very subtle and sophisticated humour that rewards repeated viewings and exploration. It is arguably the director's most directly humane film. With its stunning photography, suggestive, dream-like editing and impeccable acting, Calendar is an intricate Chinese-box narrative that merits analysis, but thankfully, does not demand it. Egoyan has crafted an elegant, poignant film that has both immediacy and long-lasting dramatic reverberations."
Astonishing director does it again!!!
Mark Twain | 12/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Atom Egoyan is a truly revolutionary director and he proves himself once again with CALENDAR, his first great film (although the ones before have been quite good)...the scenery is magnificant, the performances are so real (wife Arsinee Khanjian gives one of her best performances) and the directing style is fresh and unique (also keep in mind this is 1993)...The simple plot (engaging and absorbing as in all Egoyan films) does not unfold chronologically, which is just one of the fascinating aspects of the film...it truly is dazzling, and the mostly improvised dialogue is spectacular...(annoyed at the seemingly endless footage of the flock of sheep near the beginning? You'll appreciate it in the end.)Egoyan's films always manage to touch me in ways I never expect. That might have a lot to do with the fact that I am Armenian and a lot of his films deal with being an Armenian, but I never truly appreciated my heritage until viewing ARARAT, CALENDAR, and NEXT OF KIN. What a wonderful movie this is...what an remarkable director Egoyan is...can't wait to see what he comes up with next.."
Lesser-known Egoyan lets you decide how to feel...
David Grim | Pittsburgh, PA United States | 08/26/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In "Calendar", writer/director Atom Egoyan documents the deteriorating relationship between a man of Armenian ancestry and his wife, who is truly Armenian. The man is a photographer on assignment to photograph Armenian churches for a calendar. He is accompanied by a driver with aspirations to be a tour guide, and his wife serves as his translator.If it is true that any auteur has a motivating idea behind much of his/her career, than Egoyan's center is voyeurism. Egoyan lays his cards on the table in this lesser-known film, directly examining the way voyeurism affects both the perceiver and the perceived. As if to further reinforce the theme, he places himself in the role of the photographer. The land of his ancestry, its beautiful locales and churches, and his wife seduce him with imagery, rather than with contact. It is a willful choice on the part of Egoyan and his character, for he remains unable to truly connect with any of it.As with other Egoyan films I have seen ("Speaking Parts", "Exotica", and "The Sweet Hereafter"), much of "Calendar" is deliberately paced, and beautifully shot. His use of soundtrack music is stirring and emotional as usual, yet remains subtle enough to avoid being invasive to the viewer. For one reason or another, this film resonated with me more than any of his other films."
Elusive and evocative
audrey | white mtns | 09/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As usual with this marvelous director, you will most likely not understand this film until you are deeply into it, and I find Egoyan's director's commentary to be invaluable.
This film is nominally about a photographer (Atom Egoyan) and his wife (Egoyan's real-life spouse, Arsinee Khanjian), who travel to Armenia to photograph churches for a calendar, the wife acting as translator to the Armenian guide (Ashot Adamian). During this process, the wife and guide fall in love, right under the uncomprehending photographer's nose. Back home after she has remained in Armenia, the photographer watches his film of the trip to try and discover when the two fell in love. This description is much too linear for an Egoyan film. It will reveal itself to you in layers, as do all his works. You will constantly be feeling little ah-ha! moments of understanding, which is the element I really enjoy about this director. He is like Hal Hartley with a point.
One reviewer feels that the film is too autobiographical, but in his commentary Egoyan laughs about this assumption being made by his friends and others when it previewed, their assumption reinforced by Arsinee's absence -- but it turns out she was at home, unable to travel due to pregnancy -- in what was a happy time for the couple. I think that speaks to how capable this director is at pulling viewers into his fiction.
Egoyan reveals that he had not intended to play the photographer, but for technical reasons had to. He's not an actor and knows it, but I think he did a fine job. The story is intimate, but issues of detachment and isolation resound here, as in his other works.
This film may be too quiet for non-indie film lovers, but for Egoyan fans or those who are fascinated by people, it will be a treasure that will stay with you a while.
DVD extras include the commentary track, Egoyan's biography/filmography, stills, and two interviews with the director -- one 7-1/2 minutes, the other 52 minutes. The film can be heard in English (with English subtitles for the Armenian), and subtitles are available in English or French."
Armenians must know their history
audrey | 05/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Our duty as Armenians is to Remember and pass the memory to next generation and make the tragedy known to the world, this movie does it the best way... excellent, something to have at home and watch it over and over..it is good acting, excellent plot, love and history..."