love

Poll

What's your favorite film by Abbas Kiarostami?

haven't seen any
3 (11.5%)
don't like any
1 (3.8%)
other
0 (0%)
The Bread and Alley
0 (0%)
The Traveler
0 (0%)
Two Solutions for One Problem
0 (0%)
Where is the Friend's Home?
1 (3.8%)
Homework
0 (0%)
Close-Up
7 (26.9%)
Life and Nothing More...
1 (3.8%)
Through the Olive Trees
0 (0%)
Taste of Cherry
3 (11.5%)
The Wind Will Carry Us
1 (3.8%)
ABC Africa
0 (0%)
Ten
1 (3.8%)
Five Dedicated to Ozu
0 (0%)
10 on Ten
0 (0%)
Shirin
0 (0%)
Certified Copy
8 (30.8%)
Like Someone in Love
0 (0%)
24 Frames
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Author Topic: Kiarostami, Abbas  (Read 6853 times)

pixote

  • Administrator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 34236
  • Up with generosity!
    • yet more inanities!
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #40 on: July 15, 2017, 10:21:59 PM »


The Report  (Abbas Kiarostami, 1977)

Available as a supplement on the Criterion release of Certified Copy, Kiarostami's second feature provides a nicely understated view of Tehran two years before the Iranian Revolution. The film itself barely survived 1979, with the only known extant copy being this analog video transfer from a damaged, subtitled print. Given that warning, I was expecting far worse, but the film is completely watchable, with only a few real damaged frames and a tolerable amount of fading. The Report is very much a 70s film, with wide lapels and Persian pornstaches required attire for all the men. The style mixes the verbose, marital enmity of a Cassavetes film with the voyeuristic naturalism of many Eastern European films of the period (I'm thinking of Poland, in particular — Zanussi's Quarterly Balance, Skolimowski's Moonlighting, etc.). It's not quite penetrating enough to call it a character study, but perhaps too pointed for a slice-of-life label. It falls somewhere in between.

The story revolves around Mahmoud, a tax collector for the Ministry of Finance, who is established as something of a jerk before it's even clear that he's the main character. His closest colleagues are the Iranian Eric Bogisian and the Iranian Simon Helberg. His wife Azam is played by Shohreh Aghdashloo (for real), 26 years before her Oscar-winning role in The House of Sand and Fog). At both work and home, Mahmoud is a loser, a victim of his passivity, as he becomes more and more imprinted with the worst attitudes of the society around him. The Bogosian character acts as a stand-in for that society at large — the charismatic alpha male who is gleefully indifferent to his role as a public servant and who sees his wife's hospitalization for the birth of their son as an excuse to get away for a guys' night. By trying to emulate this type, Mahmoud sinks further into loserdom, proving as inept at adultery as he is at bribery. And strong-willed Azam isn't the type to let him off the hook for his failings.

Interspersed throughout the film are long conversations about bureaucracy and materialism and paths to success in modern Tehran. Mahmoud is present for all these, but mostly on the periphery, as if he's a blank slate, with little to contribute to the discussion. These scenes seem to deepen the parallels but Mahmoud's character and the society at large, though rather cryptically. In fact, much of my description of the film is heavily interpretative and probably half wrong. It almost doesn't matter, as the film is well paced, despite a very patient and largely minimalist style, and almost always interesting. The last fifteen minutes are a bit of a letdown, however, with the film ending on a rather unsurprising whimper. I had expected to recommend The Report more strongly until that point.

Grade: B-

pixote
Great  |  Near Great  |  Very Good  |  Good  |  Fair  |  Mixed  |  Middling  |  Bad

1SO

  • Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #41 on: January 27, 2020, 02:43:10 PM »
Through the Olive Trees (1994)
While I know this is pure fantasy, watching the film I was imagining the conversation between Kiarostami and the Hollywood studio insisting on a third film.

Hollywood: Film nerds love trilogies.
Kiarostami: But I've already said everything I want to say with my first two films.
Hollywood: But with a third film, you'll be compared to all of cinema's great trilogies.
Kiarostami: Tarantino only made two Kill Bills.
Hollywood: You're not Tarantino.
Kiarostami: Okay then. You tell me what the 3rd film should be?
Hollywood: You love meta-docs. How about a making of the film that was a meta-doc making of the first film?
Kiarostami: Maybe. But I don't want to do the entire film. How about I just focus on one throwaway scene?
Hollywood: We can go with that, but can you also throw in a love story?
Kiarostami: Only if I can end it how I want to.

And the deal was made.

I liked And Life Goes On, which is a reminder of how good Kiarostami is at people driving for long periods of time. There's a charm to it that's distinct if you're familiar with the filmmaker, and probably a drag if you're not. The final film isn't without moments - I liked the romantic side more than the inside look at filmmaking - but it's more a collection of side bits related to the previous films than a project which can stand on its own.
And Life Goes On: ★ ★ ★ - Okay
Through the Olive Trees: ★ ★ ˝


Anyone know why And Life Goes On is also known as Life, and Nothing More...?

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26767
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2020, 06:01:15 PM »
It's certainly the loosest of the trilogy but also the most metatextual so I think I enjoyed it a lot more for those reasons. I couldn't find a rhyme or reason to the title differences so I think I just went with Life and Nothing More when I wrote my thesis.

1SO

  • Moderator
  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 36101
  • Marathon Man
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #43 on: June 19, 2021, 03:30:55 PM »
Homework (1989)
★ ★ ˝
A film about nothing (kids talk about the burden of homework) and everything (that burden becomes an insight into Iranian culture, especially the family and the education system.) I wonder how much footage Kiarostami had to work with, because while he says at the beginning this is more research than a plan, you get the sense that there’s definitely a point to be made. Or maybe not, maybe that’s just an outsider’s perspective. This is the filmmaker once again blurring the line between documentary and fiction, just like the constant cutaway shots to the camera operator, which were likely filmed later to help with the editing.

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26767
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #44 on: June 29, 2021, 10:58:48 AM »
This is a pretty fair assessment. I think the film is an interesting meeting point of Kiarostami's earlier work centered around youth and his later meta-textual films. In context, I find I have a lot to say about it. As an isolated work, it's perhaps his least creative and most stifled documentary. There's still an intimacy and cultural value to it that makes me admire it. There's something interesting in seeing that Iranian children face many of the same educational issues as Western children, providing cinema as a bridge between cultures although I imagine Kiarostami never imagined this film would be outside of Iran.

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26767
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #45 on: February 19, 2023, 07:38:03 PM »
My thesis is publically available now if people want to read it. I'm not sure if I'll turn it into a book for several reasons, one of which is the sexual assault allegations that came out about Kiarostami in recent years. Also I'm just not sure film criticism is something I want to pick up writing again. Feels sad to say that but life priorities are much different now and I try to spend more time investing in people's lives which doesn't leave lots of free time for criticism anymore.

Dave the Necrobumper

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 12718
  • If I keep digging maybe I will get out of this hol
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #46 on: February 19, 2023, 08:31:00 PM »
Downloaded, 84 pages of light reading ahead.

How come the copyright is for 2013?
« Last Edit: February 19, 2023, 08:33:40 PM by Dave the Necrobumper »

Sam the Cinema Snob

  • Objectively Awesome
  • ******
  • Posts: 26767
Re: Kiarostami, Abbas
« Reply #47 on: February 19, 2023, 09:17:27 PM »
That's when I wrote it. I had it private for 10 years in case I decided to publish it as a book.

 

love