The besties review
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Where is the Friend’s House
The plot may be simple, but the execution is superb. I thought the performances were strong all around, but Babek Ahmed Poor was particularly impressive. That said, the things that stuck with me the most were the landscapes and dialogue. It’s a movie unlike anything I’ve seen before, and it makes me even more excited to delve into Kiarostami’s work.
"If I didn’t have to go on living, and were courageous enough, I’d have liked to be hanged from the beams of cinema."
Hossain Sabzian spoke this poetically morbid remark during a 1996 interview for "Close-Up" Long Shot, a short documentary that tracks Sabzian's life six years after his starring role in Close-Up. In reality, Sabzian didn't die in the cinema; he passed away in 2006 from a heart attack while riding the Tehran metro. But it's not dying what counts, right? It's living. And if you, or anyone else around the world, wants to visit again with the story of Hossain Sabzian, there is no better place than in this film. For in this small bit of cinema, Sabzian lives forever.
Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up is an unparalleled masterwork of both documentary and narrative filmmaking. I'm not sure what I can say that hasn't already been said by those more eloquent and learned than I. Close-Up is simply one of the most affecting movies about movies ever made, and I can't wait to watch it again.
Taste of Cherry
Taste of Cherry is yet another Kiarostami creation that relies on its landscapes to lull the audience into a meditative (or maybe the better word is contemplative) state. It’s a beautifully shot film and the last ten minutes are 👌, but I just didn’t find it quite as affecting as the similarly meditative Where is the Friend’s House.
The more I watch Kiarostami’s films, the more I understand his personal and specific directorial touch. Certified Copy is the best example yet of the auteur bending the rules of film to tell a seemingly simple story. This movie is a brilliantly executed romance with a number of memorable scenes. Yet again, Kiarostami’s script stand out as the film’s greatest strength, but Juliette Binoche really impresses as Elle, a thoughtful and anxious antique shop owner.
~birds, snow, window, waves, repeat~
This movie put me to sleep in the best possible way. Kiarostami’s posthumous collection of short films is a cinematic lullaby and one of the most aesthetically unique things I’ve seen in a while. I loved the movement, colors (often B&W), and motifs throughout. Though it’s not my favorite of his, I appreciate how Kiarostami used his skills to push the boundaries of what an art film, or even a “feature film,” can be.
What is 5 Film Film Festival (5FFF)?
In short, 5 Film Film Festival is an ongoing personal project to help me watch more classic films. For each mini “festival,” I will choose a random theme (be it a genre, actor, director, etc.) and curate five movies that fit that theme to watch for the first time. When I started this journey, I posted my brief, unpolished thoughts on Letterboxd. I like this more informal, less pretentious mode of watching older movies, so as I begin documenting the project here on the site, don’t expect a lot of in-depth analysis— every “review” will read more like a “first reaction.”
If you’re like me, and you have more than a few blind spots in your cinematic knowledge, then consider joining me on this lifelong endeavor. Watch along, recommend themes, and organize some mini festivals of your own!
David Merkle rules.