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1 rating: 5.0
Art House & International movie directed by Abbas Kiarostami

When last we saw the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, he was capturing the songs of Ugandan street children with his digital video camera, delighting in the portability and intimacy of the new technology. In this revelatory film, he reverses course … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Genre: Foreign
1 review about Ten

Cinema at its best

  • Dec 24, 2004
In addition to providing an important window on Iran, that should challenge any stereotypes that may be held by Westerners about this country that figures so frequently in the news of late, this film is really a remarkable and powerful film, by one of today's most important filmmakers -- Abbas Kiarostami compares very favorably in my mind with the great Auteur directors of the 60's and 70's, such as Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, Godard, Truffaut.

This film is an instance where the truism that less is more really fits. There are two camera angles in this film: medium shot of the driver and medium shot of the passenger. As Kiarostami explains in his very worthwhile set of lessons on filmmaking "Ten on Ten" (included on this disc), this camera angle is both extremely simple and very versatile. It is perfect for enabling a character to engage in dialogue that is not artificial -- because it is natural for a character to speak facing forward when he or she is in the car, and because effectively it sets the viewer in the other seat. It also allows the viewers to focus on the main characters of the film, and allows the director to create a scenario for these characters, while at the same time allowing for the unpredictable and unplanned to take place in the background, outside of the window.

While the characters in the film are not actors, they perform their roles extremely well. As Kiarostami explains (drawing upon, I think, an idea first put forward by Bazin) anybody is capable of playing perfectly a single role for film: the part of themselves. The director enters the picture by setting up conditions under which the characters are free to play this role, without it seeming artificial, at the same time as they fulfil a larger objective demanded by the film as a whole.

I really admire directors, like Kiarostami and Bresson and Tarkovsky, who set up for themselves rigorous principles and adhere to them in the interest of portraying something that transcends what they could put into the film by themselves. While sometimes the result can be more interesting than entertaining, I find that Kiarostami's films tend both to be enjoyable as well as stimulating. This is certainly the case with "Ten" (and I would also recommend "The Taste of Cherry" and "Close-up" and "ABC Africa" by the same director).

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