An Audience with the King


My review of the latest Kiarostami film, SHIRIN, is online over at the Auteurs’ Notebook. It’s a film of an audience supposedly watching a film. I’m only marginally better qualified that David Thomson (who more or less dismissed the Iranian master after watching one movie) but if my unworthy piece does one thing, it picks apart what we’re actually seeing in the film.

The entry in the Edinburgh Film Festival programme, by James Rice, is far more elegant and poetic than mine. He says “Watching SHIRIN is like watching people sleep: what the characters show on their faces is uniquely private.” The problem with that is that the whole film is clearly staged, and the actors are giving a performance, no more private than that of Garbo in THE KISS or Brad Pitt in SEVEN YEARS IN TIBET, to choose two hopefully contrasting examples. But the effect still has some interest, but not in the way people automatically expect when they hear the concept. See what you think.

14 Responses to “An Audience with the King”

  1. His son was arrested – I got an email about it at work today. Can forward if you are interested

  2. I just read that the kid from Kiarostami’s Ten has been arrested and beaten by cops in Iran.

  3. Arthur S. Says:

    That’s sad. It’s scary watching all this stuff in Iran…it could grow very ugly.

    The spokesman for the protestors party leader who’s in charge of telling their side of the story is Mohsen Makhmalbaf, fellow giant of Iranian cinema.

  4. david wingrove Says:

    Kiarostami and Binoche sounds like a truly deadly combination…

    Especially given the fact that life (particularly in Iran) really is a lot more interesting these days.

  5. Binoche is hardly in it, so don’t let that put anyone off. I did wonder why she was sobbing away, since she doesn’t even speak the language. Perhaps the imaginary film they’re watching has imaginary subtitles?

    Events in Iran may have a catalysing effect on Kiarostami’s filmmaking, who knows? I don’t think his current direction is totally devoid of interest, but I miss his direct engagement with, well, reality.

  6. david wingrove Says:

    Is Juliette Binoche capable of doing anything other than sob? She’s a ghastly combination of weepy emotionalism and staggering ineptitude…most definitely the Liv Ullmann of our day!

  7. Arthur S. Says:

    She’s in Jean-Luc Godard’s next film(as is Patti Smith)…

  8. david wingrove Says:

    As a total Patti Smith obsessive, I’ll have to go and see it. I’ll just hide my eyes when Binoche is onscreen.

  9. Maybe he could do a Femme Mariee job and just shoot a few bits of her, that might solve your problem.

  10. david wingrove Says:

    Haven’t seen La Femme Mariee – but I do find all bits of Binoche equally annoying!

  11. I wonder if you got down to a cellular level if she’d still have the power to irritate.

  12. david wingrove Says:

    You could reduce Binoche to sub-atomic particles, she’d still be as annoying as all hell.

  13. I can visualise a scene like in The Andromeda Strain where they test her molecules on monkeys. Lethal even at homeopathic levels of dilution!

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