Friday, December 6, 2013

822. Nema-ye Nazdik/Close-Up (1990)

Running Time: 97 minutes
Directed By: Abbas Kiarostami
Written By: Abbas Kiarostami
Main Cast: Hossain Sabzian, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Abbas Kiarostami, Abolfazi Ahankhah, Mehrdad Ahankhah


Just a heads up, expect me to start jumping around a little more sporadically through the 80s and the rest of the year 1990. If I get a chance later today, I may swing in and present a FINAL 25 list, just so you guys know what to expect in the coming weeks, leading to the creation of the 8th TOP 20 list. If I don't get the time to do that today, however, we'll just do the standard FINAL 15, when the time comes. Anyway..."Close-Up"...

Wow, this was definitely a unique film. I can't say it totally blew me away, but I definitely liked it a lot and it's unlike anything I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it, I highly suggest tracking it down, which won't be difficult, since it's been released via the good folks at Criterion. The film is a documentary, however it also features some scenes which are reenactments of the documentary subject; which is a man named Sabzian passing himself off as the film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, in order to gain entry into a family's home and take advantage of them. Everyone involved plays themselves and participates in acting a few scenes, which are reenactments of what transpired. Even Abbas Kiarostami appears as a voice behind the camera, even allowed to ask questions at Sabzian's trial, of which we see extensive footage from.

It really is a hard film to sum up, as it's one of those few films that I feel like you should just see, as opposed to reading my inferior words about it. However, I'll try my best to give my feelings about the film, although a short, blundering review is probably what will result...

They hook you early with a scene in which four men ride in a cab to the house where Sabzian has committed his crime - a journalist, two police officers and a cab driver - with the purpose of arresting him. The journalist thinking that this will be his big story, goes in first. We don't see anything that takes place inside the house (yet) and instead, are forced to wait outside with the cigarette smoking cabbie. Then the credits roll and after that, we're behind the camera with Kiarostami. I knew right away that it was something special. That here was a guy - Kiarostami - who had an idea and totally saw it through, in a way that no other filmmaker probably could have. What is it about Kiarostami's films that always leave me with an odd feeling of not being able to decide exactly how I feel. I always walk out of them with the feeling that I just saw something cinematically amazing, yet also underwhelmed. I can never describe the underwhelming feeling, it always just happens and I always try to extinguish it and just tell myself that, no it was a great movie and that's that. "Close-Up" was a great, unique film and like I've said, it was unlike anything I've seen, easily earning it the "must see" tag. However, why am I not here now, prepared to give it a '10' or even a '9'. I myself don't even know. Let's just say that I fully expect this film to stick with me, linger in the forefront of my mind until I give in and admit that it was a masterpiece. For now, though, all I can say is see it for yourself and make your own opinions. You won't be disappointed by it, I'm sure.

RATING: 7.5/10  Not a bad rating at all, but I feel like I'm short changing it, while at the same time feeling like I'm giving it more credit than it deserves. Kiarostami is a tough nut to crack.


December 6, 2013  3:39pm


  1. This was an intriguing story that was told in a really innovative fashion, and a fascinating look into Iranian culture and their legal system. I also had the same reaction of really liking the film, but not quite loving it. It was incredibly stimulating intellectually, but somehow didn't quite "entertain" me enough for me to love it, if that makes sense. Definitely hard to describe.

    1. Definitely a rough one to try and write up. Had a hard time with this review.

  2. I'm with both of you on this one.. William sums my thoughts up quite well.. "really quite liking the film".. "but..."
    I guess beig able to relate to the ins and outs of the Iranian legal system would have made it.
    Whilst on the subject..
    One of the new additions to 'Life of Pi cover' edition.. 'A separation' (A. Farhadi, Iran, 2011), I would give a huge thumbs up to. Decidedly a "yes, this deserves being added" - one of the few I'd say that about of the C 50 they added this edition.

    1. I've heard so many great things about "A Separation". I really can't wait to check it out. Pretty sure it's on my alternate list.


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