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.
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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.
When you are a filmmaker and you are not allowed to direct movies any more, you have to retrain. So why not become a taxi driver? Or better, why not pretend you are a taxi driver and make a film despite everything? This is what Jafar Panahi has done. Now he invites you to get into his cab for the price of a cinema ticket, to ride through the streets of Tehran and discover its people in the persons of his various passengers.Written by
A quiet protest and subtly subversive film from Iran
This year's installment in delightfully subversive political guerrilla filming is brought to us by Jafar Panahi and his film, "Taxi". Mr. Panahi is an Iranian filmmaker who ran afoul of his government's strict rules concerning suitable filming subjects. As a result, he spent time in prison and under house arrest. Not to be daunted, he continued making films that skirted the government's definition. "Taxi" is his third such film and like the other two, had to be smuggled out of the country to be seen.
Panahi assumes the guise of a taxi driver (apparently a nod to fellow Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's film, "Ten") and drives around a city, much like any other city, picking up various passengers throughout the day. There are moments of hilarity as Pahani deals with one situation after another, but underneath it all is a telling story of what life is like in Iran today, with particular attention to issues of censorship, state sanctioned brutality, women's rights, and of course, how this affects the arts and culture. It makes light of life in Iran and pokes fun at the powers that be, all the while recognizing that their actions have serious ramifications.
It is for the most part an engaging film, but given that it all takes place in a taxi and as such, is almost completely driven by dialog, it can drag a little. Still, for what it is, a piece of political theater, it is really excellent. If you get a chance to see it, I'd recommend it if for no other reason than to get a small feel for a country we, in the Western world, get to see so little of.
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