Monday, March 1, 2010

Rose Water and Pomegranates

I have been on a little bit of a Iranian cinema tear lately. I most recently watched Close-Up by Abbas Kiarostami, also the director of Taste of CherryClose-Up is a hybrid documentary/narrative film (as well as a film about film), a structure near to my head and heart these days. It's been a sobering realization, watching these Iranian films, the latitude that many directors there seem to have in structure and storytelling compared to what we are fed, even through our "indie" film movement. The trial scene, actually a real trial filmed documentary style, is a narrative masterpiece, subtly revealing the story's "characters." I am jealous, Film Forum in NYC is showing a new 35mm print right now.   Don't get the wrong idea, these films are beautiful because of the people in them and their stories (the photo above is a still photo by Kiarostami, a noted photogher as well), not because of big budget cinematography.  They are filled with little gems, mostly conversations between everyday people, oftentimes while driving.

I hadn't fully realized until recently how poetic, artful and, well, trying at times mainstream Iranian cinema could be. It gives me hope that we will use the cinema to think and dream again.  Enough with the toys, explosions, robots, apocalypses and cross-marketing already.  Film, and culture, needs to be more than product marketing delivery devices.

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"Kiarostami’s films are extraordinary. Words can’t relate my feelings. See his movies and then you’ll see what I mean.” – Akira Kurosawa.

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