In a secluded house by the sea with the curtains shut, a screenwriter hides from the world with only his dog as company. The tranquility is abruptly broken one night by the arrival of a ...
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It's been months since Jafar Panahi, stuck in jail, has been awaiting a verdict by the appeals court. By depicting a day in his life, Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb try to portray the deprivations looming in contemporary Iranian cinema.
When a young girl becomes lost in the hustle and bustle of Tehran, her journey turns into a dazzling exercise on the nature of film itself. In this ingenious and daringly original feature, ... See full summary »
Mina Mohammad Khani,
Three actresses at different stages of their career. One from before the 1979 Islamic Revolution, one popular star of today known throughout the country and a young girl longing to attend a drama conservatory.
Rahmat has been asked to meet the inhabitants of these islands to collect their tears. Although for years people have been giving their tears to Rahmat, no one knows exactly what he has been doing with them.
Persian Carpet is an omnibus film produced by Iran's National Carpet Center and Farabi Cinema Foundation where 15 renowned Iranian directors contributed films on the subject of Persian ... See full summary »
Esteemed writer Mahmoud suffers from writers block. While trying to work at the family estate, concerns about an unproductive pear tree trigger in him memories of his childhood love for beautiful tomboy "M".
Mohammad Reza Shaban-Noori
In a secluded house by the sea with the curtains shut, a screenwriter hides from the world with only his dog as company. The tranquility is abruptly broken one night by the arrival of a young woman fleeing from the authorities. Refusing to leave, she takes refuge in the house. But come dawn, another unexpected presence will change everything.Written by
Panahi returns, more scathing, reflexive and indulgent than ever
Directed alongside fellow Iranian and the criminally underrated filmmaker Kambuzia Partovi, Panahi's latest manifests the same vehemence for the tyrannical Iranian government as in last year's deconstructionist documentary This Is Not A Film. His first full length feature film since 2006′s brilliant Offside, Closed Curtain is a more aggressively political comment on the creative restrictions he has bestowed on him, and his unrelenting perseverance to conquer them.
With the Iranian government banning citizens from owning dogs as domestic pets (harrowingly, a true sanction), an unnamed screen-writer (played expertly here by co-director Partovi) flees to a remote beachside villa with his furry best friend, a beautiful little dog called 'Boy'. In constant fear that he will be caught – with the dog left for dead – the erratic scribe quite literally shuns the outside world, barricading the doors and blacking out the windows. Stuck in their new, isolated sanctuary, the man and dog are paid an unexpected visit by two young Iranians (Maryam Moqadam and Hadi Saeedi). Like our hero, they too are on the run from corrupt state officials.
Forty-five minutes in, the austere, naturalistic situation is dispelled by an indulgent second half with many increasingly odd moments. These include the visionary's quintessential reflexive streams of consciousness moments; a break in the fourth wall with Panahi's jarring on-screen presence; and a discombobulating critique on the very unorthodox nature of filmmaking and hiding from the reality that lies beyond the camera lens. Some of these moments are unnerving in all the right, satirical ways, whereas some of these 'experiments' are so dispiritingly chaotic that one would think they were coming from filmmakers of far younger vintage.
In one particularly seething encounter, a friend of Panahi's suggests to the on-screen director that there is more to life than work; to which the candid director suggests that all other things are 'foreign' to him. After countless censorship cases and one two year long house arrest, it's perhaps unsurprising that Jafar Panahi is so entrenched in – and haunted by – his nefarious creations that he has become removed to the life outside. Stuck on a critical parapet, Closed Curtain takes a panoptic glance at silenced Iranian society, without ever feeling like he is gallantly speaking for it as he has done previously with Crimson Tide and The Circle. The result means that this clunky social commentary feels like it can only resonate in an audience of a similar distance – that of a Scandinavian film festival, perhaps – rather than the homegrown audience he has become the audacious patron of.
Despite an endearing first half, the drama wallows for too long in opaque political allegories and slight-of-hand trickery. Considering the limitations and policing these filmmakers encounter on a daily basis, it seems churlish to quarrel about the film's production values. Even still, it must be noted that Closed Curtain has some of the most horrendous sound recording and mixing I've witnessed in recent memory.
Forgetting these flaws, there is one half of an exceptional, poetic drama hiding behind the curtain here. An alienated chamber piece, Panahi and Partovi highlight the grave situation facing artists and freedom of expression in an otherwise oppressive Iranian regime. For, as long as they continue to fight the system from within and make films, I am happy to watch and recommend them.
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