It’s unbelievable how Panahi manages to build up profound cinema with the most simple elements. The script Panahi presents obviously refers to his own situation, the wonderful ending with the art student/garbage man elevates the theme of freedom and choice to a universal level. Panahi also speaks a lot about cinema as a lie while making this non-film. Everything seems very authentic, yet you wonder...
I enjoyed this immensely . It's brilliant to see a director's passion about his work before it is diluted by the process .. it reminded me of Von triers Dogville the way Panahi marked out the setting : an intense sequence in intense circumstances. Real Filmmakers are never silenced. The lift is brilliance .. only a real filmmaking artist would have captured that so eloquently. The iguana, though, is the real star
An interesting look at what it means to direct a film, and who/what can be charged with the direction of a scene, this is also a look at the perilous nature of trying to make challenging art in Iran, when film-makers may be punished for not confroming to certain political lines.
(understandably) whiney and derivatively meta, you get to see Panahi in his house, pretending a film is not being made, as he is banned from doing so, while talking abut a film he cannot make to fill the void. I feel sorry for Panahi's situation, which is most likely politically motivated, and there is something cunning about the form but the film is just not that great.
As a film, a waste of digital memory and archive of boredom where even an iguana is welcome to bulk up the experience. Indeed it is not a film but a blurred glint and distant echo of a troublesome period in Iranian recent history in the wake of the Arab Spring and 2009 Iranian presidential elections, a period typically clouded from objective judgment here in the West and that Panahi does not help to enlighten.
You can do nothing but admire Panahi. In the closing moments as Panahi picks up the camera and heads outside to his more familiar surroundings and is told not to by a garbage collector for fear of being discovered it really hits home how important Panahi is to Iranian cinema.
I admit that the 1st time I watched it, I did not feel emotionally impacted. Then I watched it again, and picked up little details that I had missed the 1st time, particularly concerning the end (the art student's Esfahani accent, the entire elevator scene, the fire jump) and then the ingenuity of it all really hits you. It is not a film, but it says some really film-like things, capturing the essence of freedom.
Filmmaking as an act of defiance, Panahi's film may be only a video journal but is a power statement in of itself. Detailing instances from mundane to emotional, it contains so little "film" & yet so much poetic emotion that you're amazed how harshly the government punished this innocent man. You empathize w/ him, feeling his frustration and heartbreak as he acts out his screenplay & watches his own films. Powerful!