Close-Up (The Criterion Collection)
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Moved by director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's film "The Cyclist," a divorced and unemployed printer's assistant pretends for a moment to a fellow bus passenger that he is the director himself. Suddenly becoming the object of respect and admiration, he allows himself to be drawn into a ruse involving an entire family, who believe that he wants to make a movie about them.
Legally, he admits in court, he is guilty of fraud. But morally, he argues, he has not done and never intended any harm. He has the heart and soul of an artist, which the limited circumstances of his life have never permitted him to be. Respected and admired, taken seriously maybe for the first time in his life, he is lifted out of his suffering. How this is all played out before the cameras makes for a fascinating study of art, imagination, and self. This film is both wise and touching and a worthy addition to the Criterion collection.
I will speak however of the concept and in the abstract.
While the movie touches on the crushed dreams of the poor ordinary people, and the suffocating hopes of the unemployed youth, it does so in a personal, emotional and psychological way rather than a breaching social / political way.
The movie is realistic in its use of the semi-documentary camera, and in its portraying the different forms of human suffering and human remorse, sadness and a multitude of other emotions. However, it leaves us with a very realistic ending, where the poor remain poor, the remorse -for acting out their simple dreams- remains a remorse that demands punishment, and where the only people who can fight social injustices, only manage to secure reduced punishment.
This very realistic and true-to-life ending, while very consistent with the movie's atmosphere, ripped my heart apart.
It seems that cinema under dictatorships, is not only a fine art, but a very cunningly clever way of pointing out our faults as humans and as societies, while avoiding the wrath of the dictator. This movies lets the dictator and his censors think that it is a nice way to vent people's anger, at the same time, it will let the people who have no zeal left in them, think that it is a nice piece of art and cinema. In my opinion however, for those of us who still have the anguish, the zeal, and the anger, the movie is either a wake up call, or a proposed suicide note!
Good art defines people in no ambiguous terms.
This movie is good art.
Ultimately, the film plays out like one of those old nested folk dolls within a folk doll, within a folk doll, etc. in that films led to a real life situation which led to another real life experience which led to a film. It is not quite a great film, but far closer to it than one might conceive such a bare bones film, with such a simple premise, could archive. And all the credit for this must go to Kiarostami- a man whose art clearly is a synergy of lesser things.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had the great fortune of watching this film in Film School. We really dissected it. It's a brilliant piece of hybrid documentary/fiction filmmaking.Published on September 14, 2013 by Brandon G. Smith
This is the second Iranian film that I've watched with the first one being also on this disc as the Special Feature bonus "The Traveler" which I actually enjoyed watching more than... Read morePublished on July 17, 2011 by Frederick Baptist
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