Kino Keeno

"Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates…"

Tag: Taxi Tehran

Top 10 films of 2015

by Ben Diamond

 

It’s the anal-retentive’s most cherished of Christmas presents – The End-of-Year List.  In reverse chronological order of viewing…

10. Taxi Tehran (review)

taxi_tehran

I loved all the formal and meta-tricks going on in this one.  Very philosophical, very political, very accessible, funny and charming.  The idea of driving around in a taxi lent this film a mixture of claustrophobic confinement and a nervous energy, a very literal momentum.

9. By Our Selves (review)

by_our_selves

Admittedly, not as good as Kötting and Sinclair’s last adventure, Swandown, but I commend these two for going on a psychogeographical jaunt around Albion, retracing the steps of our forgotten national treasure, the poet John Clare.  These images are what Stewart Lee sees when he closes his eyes after he’s drunk his last ale of the evening.

8. 45 Years

45years

Perhaps, perhaps, a film for older people, older couples.  But the idea that things you do in the early days of a relationship come back to haunt you decades later stayed with me.  As a person in their mid twenties, I took this film as a challenge to look at my life and try to spot the seeds of destruction I’m already sowing…

7. The Falling

the_falling

I remember sitting through this and thinking halfway through that it had descended into silliness, but The Falling stayed with me for months after, especially the orchestrated faintings, en masse.  Grand choreography.  So much strangeness.  The possibilities for drawing parallels between the central mass-hysteria metaphor and all the other incidences of mass-hysteria in our daily lives are endless.

6. Wild Tales

wild_tales.jpeg

Six unrelated Argentinian shorts, all directed by Damián Szifron, stitched together into one anthology film.  Not entirely consistent in quality, but there’s enough humour, invention and savagery to see you through to the end.  My favourite was ‘El más fuerte‘, one of the funniest and most violent things I have ever seen.  The spirit of Bottom and Rik Mayall was looming large over that one.

5. Appropriate Behavior

appropriate_behavior

Featuring the most awkward threesome scene you’re ever likely to see.  Desiree Akhavan – just as funny and talented as Lena Dunham.  Perhaps less annoying, too.

4. It Follows

it_follows

I don’t go for horror films – but I went for this, massively.  The creepiness factor here was absolutely nuts.  Fantastic soundtrack, too.  A sudden noise can scare you, but a threatening person walking towards you in a long take from a distance will scar you for weeks.  Also love this one because it reminded me of the power of the multiplex after midnight on a Friday when you’re the only one watching in the cinema.  On the walk back to the car after, I kept looking from left to right.

3. The Duke of Burgundy

duke_of_burgundy

Even writing this annoys me, as it reminds me that I’ll probably have to wait another few years until Peter Strickland’s next film.  Both this and Berberian Sound Studio are amazing and unique.  Stan Brakhage and Belle de Jour are just some of the influences on display.  Deeply sexual, deeply unsettling, hats off too to Cat’s Eyes for lovely weird music to accompany the whole thing.

2. Leviathan

leviathan

If you want to try and understand modern Russia, you need to do two things.  The first is to read Emmanuel Carrère’s book Limonov, and the second is to watch this.

1. Whiplash

Whiplash

J. K. Simmons.  Terrifying.  It’s not really about the music.  Exhausting to watch.  Won’t be taking up the drums any time soon.  Will probably stick to the stylophone for now.  Anyone want to form a skiffle band?

Advertisements

LFF 2015: Taxi Tehran

by Ben Diamond

Taxi Tehran (Panahi 2015, 82m)

What’s it like to be an outlaw in the film world?  Jafar Panahi should know.  He was banned from making films for twenty years by the Iranian government in 2010.  That hasn’t stopped him, though.  He made This Is Not a Film in 2011, shot on an iPhone inside his apartment, a creative re-imagining of the film he wanted to make before he received the ban.  The film was reported to have been smuggled to the Cannes film festival on a flash drive hidden inside a birthday cake.  And now we have Taxi Tehran.  Panahi moves from the prison of his own apartment to the open prison of the city itself.  I find the whole conceit of this film deeply amusing – Panahi moonlighting as a cabbie (what use is a film-maker who can’t make films?) for some extra cash during his state-enforced creative dry spell, but at the same time engaging in his altruistic tendencies – in good spirits for most of the film, he waives his passengers’ fares.  The taxi itself becomes a space for dialogue, exploration and interrogation.

This is a film which starts playing games on the audience from the very first minute and never lets up.  Panahi has set many tricks and traps which force us to consider what a film is.  The first two people to get in his cab have an argument about crime and punishment (what else is there?).  It feels like a documentary.  But the third observer in the back of the cab, after the other two have left, challenges Panahi, says he recognises him as a filmmaker, that the other two must have been actors, and that the speech one of them delivered was very similar to that of another character in one of his previous films, Crimson Gold.  But, of course, this man is also an actor.  Deceptively simple in concept, Panahi actually, upon consideration, appears to have created a piece of art which performs daring feats of intellectual somersaults.  And underlying it all is a real sense of dread, and menace – despite no violence or threat occurring onscreen, the feeling that Panahi is being watched and shaped by hostile forces is ever present.  This opening scene is a good example of the film’s dizzying dance around the ideas of what is planned, what is unplanned, and who is in control of the script – Panahi?  Or is he simply trying to capture things that are out of his control?

Panahi’s most important passenger is his young niece.  She has a camera of her own and has been instructed to make a short film as part of a school project.  But her teacher has issued the class with a whole list of instructions – what she can’t film, what the protagonist should look like, what the content of the film should be.  Panahi leaves his taxi at one point and the footage switches to his niece’s camera – she tries to capture something herself.  But it doesn’t go to plan – so she starts to direct the young boy she is filming from the window of the taxi – which goes horribly wrong.  Of course, once again, what is real and not real is blurred.  The whole thing is scripted and planned, surely?  By now, we are so far down the rabbit hole of films within films that a thrilling fog has shrouded all intentions and meanings in the film.  But Panahi’s deep, deep meditation as he switches his focus to the young girl – the next generation of filmmakers, who will all grow up with smartphones capable of filming anything, all the time – radiates from Tehran outwards.