"Ceci n'est pas une pipe." (from Rene Magritte’s painting, Treachery of Images) If the sly and earnest conceptual/philosophical qualities passed you by, read Daniel Kasmin’s excellent essay in Notebook, it should get your mind started engaging, and open the door to a world of art.
"...shot partially on an iPhone and smuggled into France in a cake...depicts the day-to-day life of acclaimed director Jafar Panahi during his house arrest in Tehran while appealing his sentence - six years in prison and a 20 year ban from filmmaking." - Kanopy
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.