A yellow cab is driving through the vibrant and colourful streets of Tehran. Very diverse passengers enter the taxi, each candidly expressing their views while being interviewed by the driver who is no one else but the director Jafar Panahi himself.
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Second viewing confirms this is a masterpiece; engrossing, surprising, with Kiarostami-esque fact-fiction blurring and layering, but more layers still- like the nod to Kiarostami's Ten, the conditions the film has to be made in, and above all, Panahi's defiant courage.
4++ Delightful film, clever, great acting and the whole thing is tightly wound, Again, Panahi makes a lot out of a very simple idea, this time he's driving several different people around town. Goldfish and a cute kid again figure prominently. Sure, you could watch this simple picture on your computer screen, but I am glad I saw it in a theater on a Saturday afternoon.
A film that underlines several systemic problems in modern day Iran, alongside facets of human behaviour that are more or less universal. The take on Islamic rules in cinema was rather interesting, however for all the good of this film, its artificial nature drags the film down - one only has to look at the ending... However, there's enough good material to warrant a view. Who knows, it might just inspire you.
The third of Jafar Panahi's "not films", surprisingly jolly despite the echoes of dismay and righteousness. Structured like a series of possible films passing through Panahi's car, part of the fun is guessing how much is staged. But the overall feeling is that of a great mass of humanity teeming under the radar, which no authoritarian regime could hope to control. The year's most huggable act of civil disobedience.
I want to proclaim that this is a masterwork, but I'm not sure Panahi is consistently successful in his particular manner of suspending between documentary & fiction. It's a question of scenic rhythm perhaps, of the way conflict sometimes penetrates this limiting yet rewarding cinematic space, a taxi. The artificiality becomes too glaring? I don't know. Mostly, I was transfixed by its humor, its narrative surprises.
FNC '15 What is a showable film? Panahi again finds a way around his ban from filmmaking in Iran with this wise and playful exercise that has an underlying anger underneath, best seen when his niece reads her teacher's notes to him for her filmmaking assignment. Mind you this is not documentary but a scripted film that may even seem derivative at times but never in a way that takes away from the power of the piece.
One can wonder how is it possible that the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who was sentenced by the authoritarian regime of his country to 20 years without making cinema, still manages to direct clandestine masterpieces with a disarming simplicity, emotional truthfulness, social-political awareness, and delightfully humorous situations. (4.5 stars)
It is a crime that Jafar Panahi is being punished in the way he is. But at the same time, this film being a prime example, it has forced him to shift into an even more contemplative filmmaker, whose choices are all the more selective and therefore meaningful. Brilliant!