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Friday, September 30, 2005


abbas kiarostami.
I saw "The Taste of Cherry", when, six months ago? Did I get it at the library? I suppose.
Here are two films. "Ten" is filmed in a car. In Tehran? I guess.
Mother and son. The mother has divorced her husband, telling a court that he was a drug adict. She tries to convice her son (I can't remember, 8 years old?) that she is right and to talk to him about her life. He is not interested. He doesn't understand her problems and understands this and that what she is telling him is inappropriate. They are both miserable in their own ways. I started with my sympathies with the boy. He seems to be less manipulative than the mother, trying to have direct conversations but to not be quite developed enough to take on this role. The mother didn't make much effort to speak in a way that took him into account, to change her way of speaking to respect his age and understanding of the world. This caused the boy visible discomfort and he was always ready to leave the car and was frequently covering his ears.

Then the boy is gone and we watch the mother drive around the city. She picks people up and gives them rides. An old woman going to pray at a temple. She seems more humble and grounded with these other people than with her son. They challenge her and she listens. She picks up a prostitute who is angry at first because she thought she was getting into a man's car. She lectures the prostitute on morality, but is asked to defend her own position in her marriage which she lies about, saying she is married. As the film progresses she sees her son a few more times, and we see a softening of their relationship, even though he still doesn't trust her and is ready to leave the car frequently. She decides to allow him to stay with his father. He looks happy. He tells his mother why the new woman his father is seeing is better than her. She seems amused by this. "She cooks more than one thing," he says. "Isn't it relieving that in the end, it all comes down to food?" she responds, and he is uncertain, seeming to gain a new respect for his mother.

The other film is the director driving around the roads where "Taste of Cherry" was filmed. He discusses "Ten". He talks about how one critic saw it as "violence against cinema". The fact that he uses so few camera angles and uses real people instead of actors disturbed this critic. He mentioned a certain quote by Nietzche twice: "That which is truly deep requires a mask."

He ended with a discussion of American cinema. He said his hunch was that it was more destructive than American military. He says that he is self-taught and therefore his teachings are not necesarilly connected to popular ideas or standard techniques. His friend once chastized him for "growing vegetables in a flower pot" instead of cultivating land. So he recommends that film students study American movies and understand why the formula works. He quoted someone as saying that all people have a Native American heart and in cinema one should use all the tricks at one's disposal to influence this heart. This is the secret to success of American movies. This last part seemed kind of sad. The practical words of someone who feels like what they really want to say (what he said in earlier parts of the film, perhaps) will be too dangerous because it will not be understood, and so it is better to give practical falsehoods that lead in a safer direction.

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