The work and obsessions of director Nanni Moretti when the Iranian movie "Close Up" is scheduled to open in the movie theater he owns in Rome. Attention to details and above all a great love for cinema at its best.
A micro-manager as movie theater owner. Nanni starts his day getting last night's gross ticket sales, city by city, for "The Lion King." Then he's on the phone to a newspaper advertising office. That evening, the Iranian film "Nema-ye Nazdik" ("Close-Up") opens at his theater. He heads for the theater where he coaches staff on minute details, including telling the projectionist to raise the image just a bit - not enough, he says, to even notice. He role-plays with his ticket seller. That night, after going to bed, he rouses himself to call for that night's ticket sales for his and other theaters. No rest for the restless. Written by
Nanni Moretti is a popular Italian director, often compared to Woody Allen, who makes deceptively simple essay-films which blur the line between 'documentary' and 'fiction'. 'Close-Up', by Abbas Kiarostami, is another film without a clear-cut line between these two modes. The enduring image of Moretti, from his film 'Dear Diary', is of the helmeted director riding his scooter. The most famous image from 'Close-Up' is of two men on a motorcycle, the passenger carrying a pot of flowers.
According to this short, Moretti is also the proprietor of what is often quaintly called an arthouse cinema; and he is about to exhibit Kiarostami's film. The short begins with him reaming off a load of figures, the individual grosses of 'The Lion King', which seem phenomenal, but, being in lire, you'd never know. One might expect the film to be a kind of David and Goliath story, the humble, low-budget Iranian docudrama versus the might of Disney's greatest earner.
Moretti's persona in this film is irritable and nervous to the point of obnoxiousness. He checks the sandwiches his staff have prepared for the spectators; he berates his receptionist for calling 'Close-Up' merely 'an Iranian film'; he lambasts customers more concerned with parking than cinema. He truly loves this movie, and invokes Kurosawa in its defence. In the film's most moving moment, he takes a peek at the film behind the door, his 'reframing' of the frame perhaps showing how such a humanist work from an alien, private culture, becomes universal, transcends culture.
Whether the fact that less than a hundred people actually go to see it on the day is a cause for depression is up to you - they all enjoyed it, and maybe that, and sandwiches, are all we can hope for in the face of the roaring mouse.
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