Thursday, May 28, 2015

Notebook's Fantasy Double Feature of 2010

NEW: Certified Copy [Copie conforme] (Abbas Kiarostami, Italy/France)
OLD:
Hallelujah I’m a Bum (Lewis Milestone, 1933)

WHY: It’s true that my guilty conscious had some effect on picking Copie conforme, though it was an outstanding film itself, needless of any guilty conscious to be the criteria of a choice. I had some rough, and probably unfair, judgments on Kiarostami’s films, after The Wind Will Carry Us, and in the shadow of post-June-2009 happenings in Iran these judgments became harsher. But now, I can read the filmmaker’s thoughts more clearly, because I know if he had made any film the way that people of his country wanted he would now have his own share of 26 years. Of course,  the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has considered Copie unscreenable in Iran. But that doesn’t affect Kiarostami’s reputation, in or out of his homeland. Inside, the usual bunch of opponents call him a coward and a fake, and on the other side, many more find him one of the few who can give them back a part of the lost honor of a nation. He has his followers and protégés; not so strangely, none of them working in Iran anymore, and of course some of them, like Jafar Panahi, do not and will not work at all. But Kiarostami continues his cinematic journey, this time in Italy, and makes organic films like they are part of a change of the weather or any other natural occurrence. He is coming from a country full of frustration, a country facing its biggest troubles ever, but he is still focused on details (a kid’s notebook, a hobo’s marriage proposition after a demolishing earthquake, drivers driving Tehran street without showing any real life on those streets), details that are not related clearly and directly to the problems. Does he have any message for his own people?  The answer is hardly a yes, but maybe his continuity is the message. Wouldn’t he be forgotten, like many filmmakers with clear telegram-like messages before and after the 1979 revolution, if he had stopped being Kiarostami?
To fill the gap, to have another perspective rather than pleasant landscape of Tuscany, to remember people are losing jobs, and to not forget that not very far from now, after recent political/economical changes in Kiarostami’s homeland, a new wave of poverty will sweep up the nation, let’s watch Lewis Milestone’s masterpiece of the American left, Hallelujah I'm a Bum, about central park hobos and their hopes and dreams during the big depression; a Milestone that shows us (and Kiarostami) how can fantasy explain bitter reality. Juliette Binoche is much like Al Jolson. In the end, they both are left alone with undying hopes in hand, and tears in their eyes. Binoche and Jolson are the integral of people in Iran, today.

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