Ten, the latest film by Iranian master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, focuses on ten conversations between a female driver in Tehran and the passengers in her car. Her exchanges with her young son, a jilted bridge, a prostitute, a women on her way to prayer and others, shed light on the lives and emotions of these women whose voices are seldom heard. Read More »
A film director is making a movie in the Iranian countryside. He recruits local actors, but when shooting begins, a problem comes to light. His male lead, a young man named Hossein (playing himself), is madly in love with his fifteen-year old female co-star, Tahereh (playing herself). Because of Hossein’s illiteracy and homelessness, a marriage is impossible, at least from the perspective of Tahereh’s grandmother (who is also her guardian). Undaunted, the young man continues to pledge his undying love. For her part, Tahereh is busy studying for her exams and the last thing she wants is to engage in a conversation — any conversation — with the ardent suitor she wishes would go away. Read More »
Kiarostami Takes a Mirror to Movie-World Fame
Being Mohsen Makhmalbaf
by Michael Atkinson
December 29, 1999 – January 4, 2000
A full decade after its making, Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up emerges from the closed country of Rumored Masterpieces to no doubt pass through our cultural pipes as effectlessly as pork fat through a goose. (Zeitgeist displays admirable holiday spirit distributing it.) The must-see Iranian Godardian knot of a movie, Close-Up is no crowd-pleaser, but neither is it less breathtaking than Godard in his salad days. Most of this year’s best releases—Les Amants du Pont Neuf, Boiling Point, A Moment of Innocence included—have spent lonely years on the market, but Kiarostami’s film has artichoke-like layers which, once peeled, are forever resonant. How simple yet inexhaustible can a filmic text get? Here you have in vitro the ruminative spiral-evolution of Kiarostami’s Quoker “earthquake” trilogy and the mysterian subtractions and realist ellipses of Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us. Seemingly bottomless, Kiarostami’s reflexivity never obscures his deep, aching concern for people. Nobody makes or has ever made movies with such mundane majesty. Read More »
Edited extract from “Shooting Down Pictures” Blog
Homework could stand as the perfect model of cinema verité in its capacity to extract the lies that reveal the truth.”
Thus wrote Peter Matthews in an article on Homework for Sight and Sound back in 2002. It was one of a series of write-ups leading to the 2002 Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll, where writers were asked to promote “out of the box” titles that could help shake up conceptions about what “great movies” were.
Matthews’ nomination of Homework (the film ended up not getting a single vote) was clearly a bid on behalf of documentaries. His article is one of the most stirring defenses of the documentary as an artform that I have ever read. It came to me at a time when I was not sure what films I wanted to make (guess what, I’m still not sure) and was especially conflicted about documentaries, the secondary citizen of cinema. For me, Matthews’ essay was a galvanizing corrective towards a host of misconceptions about documentary as art. Read More »
Description: Made when he was only 24, famed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s first feature is a remarkably self-assured debut. Its youthful protagonist, Qassem (Hassan Darabi), is a budding juvenile delinquent and devoted soccer fan who will do anything, including swindling his elementary school classmates and stealing from his parents, to travel the 400 hundred miles from his tiny village to Tehran so he can watch his favorite team play an important match. The Traveler makes plain that Kiarostami’s genius for portraying the complex inner lives of children without resorting to excessive cuteness or cheap sentimentality was present at the beginning of his filmmaking career, and Darabi is an inspired choice as a lead actor. His sensitive eyes betray the tough exterior he displays in his hometown, and when he reaches Tehran, that toughness seems to melt into the natural curiosity of youth. Beautifully shot in black and white, The Traveler contains many of the seeds that would flower in later films like Through the Olive Trees and The Wind Will Carry Us. Read More »
Roads of Kiarostami, a documentary that reflects on the power of landscape, combining austere black-and-white photographs with poetic observations, engaging music with political subject matter.
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Variety Review :
Though his name continues to pop up regularly as writer or story man on a good chunk of Iranian cinema, Abbas Kiarostami himself has not filmed anything even vaguely commercial since 2002’s “Ten.” The maestro has disappeared into making more abstract, experimental installations, theater pieces and films (“Five”). His latest, “Shirin,” wherein 112 Iranian actresses and Juliette Binoche are shot watching a 12th-century Persian play, with the play’s performance itself kept entirely offscreen, is unlikely to pack ’em in. Yet “Shirin” offers a feast for the bedazzled eye and a crash course in narrative obsession for the benumbed mind. Read More »