Instant Picks of the Week 7/1/16

With the sudden passing of legendary filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, there is no greater time to become acquainted with a few of his many masterpieces, new and old. We retooled our Instant Picks of the Week from July 1st to honor his memory. 

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In the course of cinema history, there are only a precious handful of films and filmmakers we can point to as medium-defining works and artists that have fundamentally reshaped our relationship to the medium itself. CLOSE-UP is one such film and Kiarostami one such artist, part of why his legacy is so essential to cinema and his passing so tragic.  The backstory to the film has become that of legend: a man was imprisoned for impersonating popular filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf (another of the Iranian New-Wave greats) and extorting a wealthy family by convincing them they would be the subject of his next film.  Kiarostami sought to make a documentary of this story, only using the actual people involved (both the perpetrator and the family) to reenact the events.  The result is a remarkably complicated film interrogating the heart of the cinematic medium and it’s ability to replicate reality on-screen.  Kiarostami collapses the boundary between fiction and reality, forcing his audience into a space unusual to anything else in cinema, challenging our notions of authenticity and representation.  Arguably his most brilliant achievement, Close-Up is one of the seminal films of the 20th century.

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Kiarostami’s latest (and unfortunately, last) film may not have the cerebral intensity of some of his earlier works, but it would be a mistake to leave it out of the conversation of Kiarostami’s best.  If anything, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE is a demonstration of Kiarostami’s meticulous craftsmanship with regards to sound and image.  The framing of his images here are among the best in contemporary cinema, with every detail and every bit of lighting measured to the dot.  His use of sound, both on and off screen, further challenges our sense of space and place within the world he creates.  Narratively, it continues a theme which extends into nearly all of his works: the consequences of a dogged pursuit of truth (a theme quintessential to the Iranian New Wave as a whole, but particularly motivated within each of Kiarostami’s works).  Although a deeply tragic film through and through, LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE is among the finest works of the decade so far, a film so simple in execution and yet so profound in its implications.

Jonathan Mackris is a film studies student and co-founder of the New Cinema Society at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. When he's not singing the praises of Lars von Trier, Guy Maddin, Kenneth Anger, or the Iranian New Wave, he's probably listening to trap music and using ANTICHRIST as a date movie (hey, it hasn't failed him yet).

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