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SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB: Week 195 - Close-Up (1990)

Discussion in 'Mayberry Lounge' started by europe1, Jan 29, 2020.

  1. europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    NOTE to NON-MEMBERS: Interested in joining the SHERDOG MOVIE CLUB? Shoot me a PM for more info!

    Here's a quick list of all movies watched by the SMC. Or if you prefer, here's a more detailed examination.​

    [​IMG]
    Our Director

    Abbas Kiarostami
    [​IMG]

    Film Overview

    The Whole Film is Available on Youtube!




    Premise: The true story of Hossain Sabzian that impersonated the director Mohsen Makhmalbaf to convince a family they would star in his so-called new film.

    Budget: Blocked due to US sanctions.

    Box Office: 4 Ayatollas out of 5.

    Trivia
    (courtesy of IMDB)


    * In the final scene outside the jail when Sabzian is surprised and touched to meet the real director he had been impersonating, Mohsan Makhmalbaf, we don't hear most of their talk because (we're told) the sound equipment was faulty. In reality, Kiarostami just didn't want to leave the dialogue in, because it didn't come off well: Sabzi was genuinely moved to meet his idol and spoke from his heart, but Makhmalbaf was just repeating scripted lines, so the dialogue didn't work.

    * Chosen by "Les Cahiers du cinéma" (France) as one of the 10 best pictures of 1991 (#05).

    * Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.


    Members: @europe1 @MusterX @sweetviolenturg @FrontNakedChoke @chickenluver @Scott Parker 27 @Yotsuya @jei @LHWBelt @HARRISON_3 @Bubzeh @moreorless87 @Fugitive Pete @HenryFlower @Zer
     
  2. moreorless87 Straba

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    Watched Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh a couple of months ago but that's much more on the mystical side of the Iranian new wave.

    I'd point out in this film its not just based on real events but most of the people in it are playing themselves. I'v not seen masses of Kiarostami besides this(just Taste of Cherry and Certified Copy) but playing around between reality and fiction seems like his forte. You could argue I spose its the kind of cinema that appeals to film makers/critics strongly being so self referential but the latter of those two especially I really enjoyed.
     
  3. HenryFlower (sheesh!)

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    [​IMG]

    i need to stop cutting onions every damn time Hossain meets the real Mohsen Makhmalbaf.

    which is wild because the acting is superb & wholly believable, which lends a hand to suturing that fine line Close-Up rides between documentary & fiction.
     
  4. HenryFlower (sheesh!)

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    @europe1 in our PMs you mentioned that you weren’t crazy about Jafar Panahi’s Taxi, but i would highly recommend Kiarostami’s Ten, which takes a similar approach (tells a story in a cinéma vérité style from the perspective of the protagonist driving around in her car), but it is way more engrossing. it still critics Iran’s socio-political issues similar to Taxi, but in a way that is more nuanced & woven more seamlessly into the narrative. Panahi no doubt took his influence from Ten, & i respect his dedication to finding ways around his directing ban by the Iranian government, but Kiarostami still did it better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2020
  5. moreorless87 Straba

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    Using the actual people involved does I think clearly play into the style he's after, almost no mannerisms to the performances at all but they still carry some weight.

    What I did really enjoy as well is the lack of a sense its playing to a western audience, quite a lot of modern arthouse does IMHO end up feeling a bit like ethnic tourism, more designed for the guardian arts section.
     
  6. HenryFlower (sheesh!)

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    for sure. Kiarostami wanted Close-Up to be an Iranian slice of life expose. something he pivots away from later in his career w/ the likes of Certified Copy & Like Someone In Love, for example. it’s almost as if towards the inevitable end of his career, while directing “in emergency,” Kiarostami wanted to branch out into tackling the human condition outside of the confines of Iran.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  7. moreorless87 Straba

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    You could argue its enlightening to the westerner in terms of say the mechanics of the court system (although actually I'd say casts a system based more on morality/forgiveness in a positive light) but I'd say its mostly a film made to be watched by Iranians. That does I think actually make it much more universal in terms of commenting on things like art and class.

    By comparison I admit I was a bit non plused by the extreme reaction(was talked up as the best film of the half decade by many critics) to A Seperation, not that I disliked it but it felt like a pretty straight forward drama playing to most western curiosity and a sense of moral superiority.
     
  8. HenryFlower (sheesh!)

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    well A Separation deals w/ way more modern themes; it directly attacks the dichotomy of a woman’s rights, or lack there of, versus a man’s socially accepted superiority. so basically challenging what is or isn’t considered moral superiority in a culture that has been dragging their feet in catching up to western ideals. the end of A Separation is left up to interpretation because it wants to express that it still lacks the answers it had been digging for, whereas Close-Up ties up the narrative w/ a glimmer of hope, but i suppose it’s left just as open ended as the former, w/o any definite conclusion for their lives going forward.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2020
  9. europe1 It´s a nice peninsula to Asia

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    I can't say that this hit me hard in the emotional gut but it's still a solid picture and an interesting character-study. You have Hossein who gets to live vicariously in an artistic and respected role that his strata of society almost never get to inhabit. There really is a strong "real-life" vibe to his mannerisms, musings and rationalizations as to why he elected to do this, a "how couldn't I?" even though he never directly states this aloud. His life is so poor in both means and experience that the opertunity just seems unavoidable even though it entails playing with the families emotions. You can really buy that this is how a slumdog artistic soul would act and view the the world. But coupled with the realism and absurdness of the scenario there is an almost intangible air of the bizzare to the entire proceedings (Kitchen sink-bizzare?)

    There is also some of that Sullivan's Travels metatextuality going on, in that Hossein wants to make a movie that shows his societal anguish and unfufillment while the movie being shone does just that.

    I think some of the emotions out of the family seem a bit undercooked. Based on their words, you can kind of intuit that the son is more irked and indignant at being played a fool than the rest. He's more aggressive in his speech and tries to uphold the standing of the family, as if his pride is wounded. The father is more cynical, talking as if all that mattered to Hosein was an economical robbery. But both of them are so lukewarm in their speach that these emotions never really shine through even though they state the words.

    For the record, I thought this was a much better "slice-of-life" depiction than the smorgosbord-approach that Jafar tried in Taxi, where most of the vignets ended up feeling artificial or fleeting.

    One "touristy and excotic" element I chuckled about is when the filmmakers are interviewing the court-people for the very first time. You start out with an suit-clad acedemian type only to pan over to this other bearded fellow with a funny hat who looks like he could have come straight from the Taliban. Yet its the latter whom is the boss and the former who is his aidee.

    Not to mention that it essentially looks like he got the job for being a descendant of the Prophet Muhammed.

    Yeah in real life, such a system would seem ripe to be exploited for societal pressure. I remember reading about Gulf sheiks using a similar sharia-forgiveness system as a "get-out-of-jail-free" card since you can just bride/intimidate your way to a forgiveness-deal and go home skotch free.
     

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