Archive for May 29th, 2010

By Marc Bauer

The greatest beauty in filmmaking also happens to be one of its most terrible tragedies. Outside of the world of serial films, movies exist in a universe created entirely unto themselves. When you watch a film, you are glimpsing a window into a world created solely for that film. In many instances, the films exist in the same world we are a living; but the films that soar and take us away, those are films that are created so thoroughly that we are totally enveloped in the universe in which they exist. The nuances of the world, the subtleties that make it different from what we are familiar with, are what make it truly magical. It is sad that we only get a visa to these worlds of wonder for a few hours, and then they are gone.  What did the camera leave unanswered? What was down that alleyway there? These worlds are so rich and inviting, you want more time to explore.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet doesn’t work like most directors. He has created a contextual fabric from which he wends all his tales. There is something in his mise-en-scene that he carries between his films. (Let us discount Alien Resurrection from the oeuvre I’m discussing, as he was only the director here.) From film to film, there is certainly an air that carries about. If Amelie were to walk past Clapet’s Butcher Shop, you would not bat an eye; if One and Crank were to appear in Micmacs, again it would seem totally on the level. Is returning to the well a good or a bad thing? In the case of Jeunet, and his newest, Micmacs a Tire Larigot, it is entirely welcome. (more…)

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10 (no 52)

by Allan Fish

(Iran 2002 93m) DVD1/2

Dashboard drama

p  Abbas Kiarostami  d/w  Abbas Kiarostami  ph  Abbas Kiarostami  ed  Vahid Gazi, Abbas Kiarostami, Bahman Kiarostami  m  Howard Blake

Mania Akbari (driver), Amin Maher (Amin), Roya Arabshahi, Katayoun Taleidzadeh, Amene Moradi, Mandana Sharbaf, Kamran Idi,

2002 saw two incredible experiments in cinematic form.  The first, Sokurov’s Russian Ark, took it to one extreme by recording the entire film onto hard disk in one unbroken take through the halls and corridors of St Petersburg’s Hermitage museum.  The other could not have been more different while at the same time so much a kindred spirit film, for both reduced cinematic minimalism to an extreme.  10 was hardly Abbas Kiarostami’s first experiment on those lines, as his earlier works Close Up, The Wind Will Carry Us and A Taste of Cherry were minimalist in themselves, but compared to 10 they are like the cinema of John Woo.  The 10 in the title refers to the number of journeys made by a young female taxi driver in present day Tehran over a two day period.  That in itself would be minimalist enough, one might think, were it not for the fact that the entire film was shot from two dashboard video cameras looking at the driver and passenger seat, fixed completely on them, aside from one brief shot facing frontwards. 

            The famous critic Roger Ebert said of Kiarostami’s work that “no ordinary moviegoer, whether Iranian or American, can be expected to relate to his films.  They exist for film festivals, film critics and film classes.”  On one level I can see where he’s coming from, but frankly that statement is insultingly dismissive.  While I agree that Kiarostami took it one step too far in his next film, Five, which I found about as entertaining as watching the polar ice caps melt, 10 is about something and, in its way, is riveting cinema.  Furthermore, Mr Ebert’s comment shows a certain self-righteousness and presumption that cannot be healthy.  How can any western commentator know what an Iranian audience can get from a film, or indeed any audience but his own, the popcorn crunching masses of the heart of America? (more…)

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