Friday, January 19, 2007

January 19th Log

2003, Abbas Kiarostami, Iran / Japan / France
1st Viewing, DVD

Sort of continuing with the Ozu Friday theme, I also decided to watch the great Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami’s experimental film Five. The film was made as a tribute celebrating 100 years since Ozu’s birth. The film is indeed a mystery, and is certainly not for everyone. Many viewers will despise this film and even those who actually admire it, will still feel moments of boredom. In fact, the DVD I purchased online (it is only available in France at the moment) included an interview with Kiarostami in which he seems to openly accept and welcome the boredom of watching five long takes. This is undoubtedly an experimental film and is not really any direct Ozu influence. However, the original title of the film is Five Long Takes Dedicated to Yasujiro Ozu, so you can’t help but at least think of Ozu as you watch these shots. In that sense thoughts of Ozu, his filmmaking, and his images do spring to mind, but Kiarostami’s greatest similarity with the Japanese master is in the simplest form of filmmaking. You have to admire the thought behind these five simple yet strangely complex (or perhaps ironic) shots. Shot on digital video you also have to wonder (as with many Kiarostami) the role he plays as a director. This is always one of the most fascinating elements of Kiarostami as a filmmaker. He is always stretching and searching the boundaries of the director. Does he manipulate or direct these five shots? For example, how many takes were needed to get the driftwood to break apart in the way that it does? These are the questions that arise when watching this film, assuming you can make it through. Boredom will set in, yet there is also something hypnotic about these five shots and most specifically the experimental approach of Kiarostami’s vision. Five is far from a masterpiece, but it is a very interesting work on certain levels.

1934, Yasujiro Ozu, Japan
Repeat Viewing, DVD

This is only the second time I have seen this film. A Mother Should Be Loved is more melodramatic material then Ozu’s best work. The story centers around two brothers that are alienated after the older one secretly discovers their widowed mother is really his stepmother. The film is missing the first and last reels (a lot of which are titles), which detailed the joyful routines of family life with the mother, two sons, and the father, who dies of a heart attack. What survives centers around the central story of the two sons. Made during the death of Ozu’s father, A Mother Should Be Loved takes a look into the separation of the family, a theme he would continue to develop throughout his postwar masterpieces. This film is more plot driven and overall not as powerful as his greatest work, but it is an interesting film to see the early developments of his themes and style.

- More on A Mother Should Be Loved @ A2P Cinema's Yasujiro Ozu website HERE


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