Thursday, July 07, 2016

RIP Abbas Kiarostami



RIP Abbas Kiarostami. Realizing that this DVD review --written for Paste Magazine back in 2010-- didn't make it to their website (though my blurb about Kiarostami on their Greatest Living Directors list did), so putting it here.

In one of Close-Up's courtroom scene, you can hear Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami (#18 on Paste's Greatest Living Directors poll) direct his subject just off-screen: "This camera is here so that you can explain things which people might find hard to understand." If only. In this uncanny, conundrum of a film from 1990, the camera casts doubt on all it observes. A reporter follows a story about a man who has just been arrested for impersonating famed Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Is he a criminal or just a cinephile? Or does he stand in for something greater? Shot without artifice (or is it?) Kiarostami's camera meditates on the creative act and cinema, and the lie inherent in each. "I wanted to make them forget the idea that a film director is different from other people," the accused states at one point in his defense. But come the final act, when we observe the imposter's meet-up with the original through a cracked windshield with a glitching audio mic, a clutch of pink flowers obscuring their profiles, the fa├žade of Kiarostami's profound poesy becomes evident.