Tuesday, August 11, 2015


A film director hangs up his megaphone and gets in a taxi only he installs some Black Magic cameras in the dash and drives around to see what happens. He picks up a few people - cab sharing is normal in Teheran - and listens to them muse and argue. One guy recognises him and gets a lift to deliver bootleg movies on dvd banned in Iran. This takes them to a film student who picks up some discs and advice from the director. Then he picks up his niece who complains that she boasted about him to the friends waiting for her at the party they're going to and starts filming him with a point and shoot while talking about "unscreenable" films and the type of thing you can put into films as prescribed by her teacher.

The acting is naturalistic but pushed a little and you might start thinking, "so what?" Anyone can do that. I didn't care who knew and who didn't out of the pickups in Under The Skin, why should I care about this? Well, there's a reason for the teenage girl being so interested in what constitutes an acceptable film. The director we see at the wheel and whose work is on the screen was banned from making films for twenty years in Iran. What he's doing is illegal and could send him to prison. He made two in the confines of his house arrest and now he is making another about the world on the streets, morality, hope and the almost constant theme of crime and punishment.

While this might come across as a tad precious and forced it's worth remembering that the stakes here are high enough to have prevented him from including a title and cast sequence: naming names could put those people in jail, too. So, this is a severe diatribe against political oppression made watchable through worthiness? Actually, it's a fun ride with a near constant stream of real humour that allows a lot of the sadness, anger and injustice visibility. The wife of the accident victim at the beginning calls to secure a copy of the iphone footage he shot of the victim's spoken will and testament, it's a record of him and it's a will, just in case. The niece's shooting finds a wedding scene in which a street waif pockets some fallen money. She asks him to return it, less for the rectitude of the act than the appearance of it in the film she is shooting. His neighbour shows him CC footage of an attack by muggers as much to suggest film ideas as to share witness. We are in cinema as well as a cinema.

What that means is that this is still worth doing, not just worthy. Whether it's projected or played online the power of the wish of cinema remains. That's as true for a Michael Bay blockbuster as it is for this, I suppose, but, for all its contrivance, for all the pleading that knowing of its production circumstances must do, this still feels better.

There's almost too much to say about this. I'll leave it here and continue the absorption, knowing it will still be playing here behind my eyes days hence.

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