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 Post subject: 708 Like Someone in Love
PostPosted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:38 am 
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Like Someone in Love

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Abbas Kiarostami has spent his incomparable movie career exploring the tiny spaces that separate illusion from reality and the simulated from the authentic. At first blush, his extraordinary, sly Like Someone in Love, which finds the Iranian director in Tokyo, may appear to be among his most straightforward films. Yet with this simple story of the growing bond between a young part-time call girl and a grandfatherly client, Kiarostami has constructed an enigmatic but crystalline investigation of affection and desire as complex as his masterful Close-up and Certified Copy in its engagement with the workings of the mercurial human heart.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED EDITION:

• New 2K digital film transfer, supervised by director Abbas Kiarostami, with 3.0 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Forty-five-minute documentary on the making of the film
• Trailer
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar and critic Nico Baumbach


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 Post subject: Re: Cannes 2012
PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2012 6:55 am 
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Jeff wrote:
Here's a teaser.

I can't wait. If it finished shooting in November, no reason why it wouldn't be ready in time for Cannes. Kiarostami's career oddly breaks down perfectly into cycles by decade:

1970s & 1980s = Kanoon (The Traveler, The Report, Where is the Friend's Home, Homework, et. al)
1990s = Arthouse Darling (Close-Up, Through the Olive Trees, Taste of Cherry, The Wind Will Carry Us, et. al)
2000s = Experimental Improvisations, Docs, and Introspection (ABC Africa, Ten, Five, 10 on Ten, Shirin, et. al.)
2010s = Tour of World Cinema (Certified Copy, Like Someone in Love, ???????????)

I hope this latest cycle continues. First came the homage to the Carrière-scripted European arthouse films of the 60s and 70s, next comes the Japanese film (another Ozu homage?). I can only assume that next he will come to the states to shoot a noir or western. Even better... Mission: Impossible 5, directed by Abbas Kiarostami. Somebody get Tom Cruise on the phone!

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE looking promising...

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PK is interesting, Producer Marin Karmitz had to sell an Yves Klein sculpture to make up the funding of the film which has been 10 years in gestation...


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 3:36 am 
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Hollywood Reporter

Generally positive review from the Croisette...

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After deconstructing a would-be romance in the Tuscany-set Certified Copy, Iranian auteur Abbas Kiarostami takes another trip abroad to explore the depths of unrequited desire in the Japanese drama, Like Someone in Love. However, this being a Kiarostami movie, the “Like” part of the title (taken from the Ella Fitzgerald song) is to be taken quite literally here, and this enchanting affair (of sorts) between a retired professor and a gorgeous young call girl is never exactly what it seems. Upscale art houses and admirers of the Palme d’Or laureate will be the major clients of this tenderhearted and melancholic work, provided its propos are not lost in translation.


Screen Daily

Reports mixed reception @ Cannes press showing, with some booing and a degree of audience bafflement. However...

Quote:
Kiarostami intrigues us as he weaves a carefully framed, sometimes funny, sometimes tender shaggy-dog story about (among other things) an encounter between an elderly Japanese professor and a young escort girl. Like many of Kiarostami’s films, Like Someone In Love is at least in part about the way people tell stories and stories tell people, but the way the theme is developed here seems less emotionally and ethically resonant than in, say, Ten or The Wind Will Carry Us.


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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:57 am 
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Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian

Finds it frustrating, most especially in the film's abrupt ending...

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But his latest movie, set in Tokyo, really is bafflingly and even exasperatingly truncated. There are some interesting ideas and sympathetic performances in a superbly shot and fascinatingly controlled exercise. There is potential. But the curtain comes down with an arbitrary crash just as the drama was becoming interesting.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:58 pm 
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Man was Like Someone In Love disappointing. It's not as if Kiarostami doesn't direct the hell out of it. The film was interestingly staged and beautifully shot and did have some of the best window/windshield reflections as an intentional element of the composition I've yet seen. But the script is so far beneath him, like the first draft of a second-rate Japanese film student who thinks he is saying something profound because he's writing about
[Reveal] Spoiler:
sex work in a less than fully salacious or totally cartoony register.
There's a long, slow build-up, which I was more than willing to go with and give the benefit of the doubt, given the many hours of amazing cinema this director has already offered us all. But it pretty much comes to nothing and not even in an interesting way. After
[Reveal] Spoiler:
the driving scene with the grandma and the phone messages there's nothing that moves or surprises me. Especially not the dramatic irony of all the assumed identities/roles being played the morning after.
This is the only Kiarostami feature I've seen yet that I never want to see again. I found myself saying out loud when it was over: "That's it?!" Unless I'm missing something. Anyone? Anyone? Zedz?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:31 pm 
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Spoilers follow, for those who haven't seen it.

I like the film, and it's clearly a companion piece to Certified Copy, playing with several of the same narrative tropes, but here he's experimenting with tone rather than meaning. All of the plot components - the mistaken identities, the jealous boyfriend, the did-they-have-sex ambiguity / misunderstanding, the 'running gags' (e.g. the waiting grandmother) - are the fodder of romantic comedy, and Kiarostami delivers it all with a lightness of tone (and certain deliberate elisions) in order to encourage the audience to read the film as a romantic comedy. But the gist of the film is that this isn't a romantic comedy at all: it's much, much darker. All those tropes we're conditioned to consider cute are actually pretty horrible, if you just step back out of the genre cocoon and think about them in realistic terms. The jealous boyfriend, we're told in the very first scene, is more than just mildly besotted, he's dangerously obsessive - so the final event of the film should really come as no surprise to us (and yet we still have so many critics dismissing it as a gimmicky twist or meaninglessly arbitrary). The chaste evening spent with the professor only comes off as chaste because we're not shown explicitly that it isn't (but logically, why would it be?) The ruse played on the boyfriend is depicted as if it's a good-natured masquerade with farcical complications, but there's nothing particularly good-natured about it (and that dramatic irony you note doesn't really do anything but curdle). The non-meeting with the grandmother is paced and staged like a running gag, but it's actually a pretty horrible way to treat a vulnerable old woman. This last one is, until the climax, probably the most explicit showing of Kiarostami's hand. I see the film as being one about the seductiveness of fiction and genre (as was Certified Copy), though the inflection here is more about how it blinds us to human understanding. Exactly the same story could have been told as a harrowing drama, in which we're fearing for the heroine every second, but with a simple flick of the wrist, it plays as a different genre entirely. Judging by many of the reactions to the film, Kiarostami's sleight-of-hand works exactly as intended. I was discussing the film with another forum member recently and pointed out how beautifully the AV Club review had missed the point, even to the extent of posing the rhetorical question, "Is Kase a good enough boyfriend to justify his jealous rages?" Take a step back and look at what you've written there, buddy, and you might figure out what's going on! And once you've woken up to that possibility, you can start to see the veiled horror stories in so many other romantic comedies.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:44 pm 
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Thanks for that quick response, zedz. I guess if all that genre play and tonal calculation is what the film's truly and deeply about for Kiarostami, then it was entirely lost on me. Tonally at odds with the whole or not, none of those romcom devices or codes worked on me the way you say they affected you. I never once saw any of the situations as farcical (just because of the dramatic irony?) or the boyfriend as non-threatening or the grandma bit as anything less than heartbreaking.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:59 pm 
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You make it sound almost a closer relative to Resnais' Wild Grass than Certified Copy.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:10 pm 
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Well, they didn't work that way for me, either, but you and me are no doubt both going into the film reading it as a Kiarostami film, above all. The critical responses I've read, however, and the audience responses I observed, suggest that a lot of people do read the film that way, and consequently express bemusement at the 'out of character' ending. Admittedly, Certified Copy does a better job of preserving the bubble of obliviousness that led many people to think they'd just seen a lovely romantic film about Tuscany. In this film there's no mistaking at the end that something just happened, even if you have no idea what or why.

As for what I was feeling throughout the film: anxiety, and a lot of dissonance caused by the incessant lightness of tone and the 'cute' set-ups. I have to admit that it's common for me to feel annoyance when self-centred, or oblivious, or reckless characters are indulged by the filmmakers. It's an elementary indie trap, as when assholism is reflexively coded as cool rebellion and gets narratively rewarded, and that's a bit like the dissonance I was feeling in this film, though the fact that it was more present in terms of the narrative situations than at the level of characterization, and the film was subtly acknowledging what was really going on reassured me that Kiarostami knew what he was doing - as if the experience of dozens of other Kiarostami films weren't enough to do that!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:21 pm 
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I guess the Kiarostami film for people who've never seen one and don't know what they are watching (like Haneke's Funny Games x2?) is kind of weak tea for me. I don't doubt that Kiarostami was gaming our expectations at the level of narrative, just that he achieved anything close to compelling results -- especially given what we know him to be capable of. His reputation as a cinematic genius is well established but I've always thought of Kiarostami as a master storyteller too. Think of the way the entirety of Through The Olive Trees builds to that ecstatically suspenseful final shot. Nothing even close to that in the new one.

And knives, for me Wild Grass is a much more interesting film.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:42 pm 
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Well, that's not really a rebuttable position. I'd argue that this film really does all build to the final shot, and that the storytelling is still pretty masterful - it's just that it's in a completely different mode to the earlier film. And I'm delighted that his last several films have been nothing like anything he's done before. (Which doesn't mean I wouldn't give blood to get a decent DVD of Through the Olive Trees.) But this all just leaves us at cross -purposes.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:16 am 
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Both films deliberately build to their ending. Like Someone In Love strikes me as a shaggy dog story that ends with mere surprise vs. the well-nigh Hitchcockian suspense of the ending in Through The Olive Trees or even the intentionally ambiguous non-ending endings of Certified Copy and Taste of Cherry.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:34 am 
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zedz wrote:
And once you've woken up to that possibility, you can start to see the veiled horror stories in so many other romantic comedies.


HA! Your response reminded me of this.

Very good analysis of the film - I'm not sure I whole-heartedly agree with it because I'm not sure if some of those elements you mentioned suggest a romantic comedy to me, but I think the stretch with old man getting to know the boyfriend makes the most convincing case for your argument.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:29 am 

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[Reveal] Spoiler:
I see LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE as the cinematic representation of his "Unfinished Cinema" thesis. As in, LOVE is the first two acts of a three act story, and what happens in the third part, that's up to the viewer.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 1:54 pm 
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Well, JMULL222, that's a beautiful little essay but nowhere in it does Kiarostami abdicate his responsibility as a storyteller or espouse some kind of truly incomplete choose-you-own-adventure or fill-in-the-blank cinema. What he's talking about is leaving some things up to the imagination, creating space for the audience (like Paul Auster does in his fiction) through the measured use of evocative elision. If you want to get into the specifics of how Kiarostami does that vis-a-vis his endings, then you have two great and much more successful examples in Taste of Cherry and Certified Copy. Like Someone In Love just feels so much slighter, so much less deliberately and masterfully unfinished than weakly and sloppily incomplete. Which is why I keep coming back to the screenwriting. The script is all still very first drafty, the story as such doesn't seem to know what it wants to be about yet. And so the length of the film feels completely unjustified too -- it doesn't feel like a feature. I would almost be okay with the story as is, if it lasted for no more than 45-60 minutes of screentime.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:46 pm 
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warren oates wrote:
Like Someone In Love just feels so much slighter. . .
Quote:
the story as such doesn't seem to know what it wants to be about yet
Quote:
Like Someone In Love strikes me as a shaggy dog story that ends with mere surprise

Well, exactly. I see these characteristics as very deliberate strategies on the part of Kiarostami - that's how he wants you to feel (though he also wants you to explore why you feel that way), and that's the substance of the film.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 4:20 pm 
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Idk, zedz, I think you've expressed your take on the film more compellingly above. By the criteria in your latest comment, there's no bad writing that wouldn't be defensible in a Kiarostami picture. If we're supposed to feel that what we've seen is too long, too underdeveloped and ends too abruptly and to wrestle with that feeling, can't we at least critique the film on the basis that none of that is, in the end, all that interesting when it comes to the specific characteristics of Like Someone In Love, especially in light of similar effects Kiarostami's achieved in the past with much richer films?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:17 pm 
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I think it's more a case of, rather than accepting that Kiarostami has somehow managed to make a mediocre student film, as you put it, and shrugging and walking away, trying to think why he's decided to make a film that has characteristics you find off-putting. As noted above, you keep making objective statements about subjective things like "bad writing" or calling the film "uninteresting" or "overlong" (but somehow it still manages to "end too abruptly"). If I don't agree with those judgements (and I've explained why above), there's not really much space for a constructive discussion.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 6:07 pm 
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I think I have given Kiarostami and you the benefit of the doubt. And I very much appreciate your initial post above, where you talk about the film's possible intentions and effects in more general terms. But what you've said still hasn't delved into specifics enough for me to understand how the details of the writing and the storytelling in Like Someone In Love add up to an experience of cinema that's worth revisiting endlessly, like so many of his other works. The film may be frustrating to me and some of that may be intentional on the director's part, but it's frustrating in a way that doesn't feel illuminating, that doesn't ultimately reward the full investment of my attention, which it certainly had as it was unfolding.

I've only compared the script to student films, not the direction. In most of Kiarsostami's other fiction features the end is surprising and inevitable and includes some kind of dramatic and/or poetic epiphany. Here it just kind of happens. And it doesn't seem to mean much of anything at all. In part because we never know who these characters are or what they want. It's all so coyly withheld -- which, to be fair, does happen to some degree in other Kiarostami films to much better effect. The difference is that it doesn't feel like there's anything behind the curtain this time. The characters are sometimes playacting, trying on various roles as in Certified Copy, but they are neither as well-defined, heavily invested in their make-believe or mysteriously driven as the couple in that film. There are interruptions in the narrative too, patented Kiarostami digressions, but these don't add up to much either because we aren't set up to understand what we're digressing from. We spend so much time with these three characters and yet we hardly know their routines. To give just one example:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
The professor's book is at the printers and it has an error that needs to be corrected. We see him being forced to leave in the middle of this, when a call with his publisher is dropped as he struggles to help the girl, but we have no clue how important this call is or is not to him at this moment. What would have happened if he hadn't been home all day and didn't get the message at all? He's shown not to have a cell phone, so that's entirely a possibility. It seems like it definitely could have waited another day. In which case, why use this detail at all? Contrast that with the Engineer's cell phone calls in The Wind Will Carry Us, which we hear and understand even less of. Yet we're never in doubt about how important those calls are to the Engineer.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 10:19 pm 
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I unfortunately haven't seen too much Kiarostami yet, so I can't really discuss it in terms of his career or common themes. But for me this was one of the most stressful and intense cinematic experiences I've ever sat through.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
What worked so well about it for me, is that it seemed that a lot of interaction was via phone and it gave the characters a sense of security being isolated from society and free to lead their second lives. But slowly it seemed like phones were used more and more to build up people's obligations at the worst times, and people were no where near as isolated as they liked to believe. Not claiming this is any sort of interpretation of Kiarostami's ultimate goal with the film, but as dramatic devices they really wore on me emotionally. By the end scene the films had me so worked out, I don't know if I would've been able to handle much more if it didn't end right there. I think the only other film that's given me so much anxiety is Wages of Fear.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:52 pm 
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Kiarostami certainly directs the heck out of what's there. No argument from me on that front. But I'd say it's the direction that counts for 99.9% of the effects you're responding to.

And YnEoS, I get what you're saying about the tension. I think both zedz and I felt that too. But I'm curious as to whether you think you'd ever feel that same tension again on a second viewing, knowing where things are headed, how the narrative plays out. Yet I bet we could all sit down and watch Wages of Fear* or Taste of Cherry or Through The Olive Trees multiple times and be held in some pretty excellent suspense on each go around. And I'd argue that this is the result not simply of strong direction but also of very sound narrative construction -- plain old fashioned good storytelling.

I get that films can be about more than their narrative. I do. I'd never argue that Red Desert has an incredible story or that it's not a great film because it doesn't. And I dearly love certain barely narrative Sokurov and Godard films where the story seems the flimsiest excuse for their incredible images. But there are some art films that -- whatever else they are up to -- still seem to me to aspire to tell compelling stories, that foreground their own narratives and that, in my estimation, fail to deliver. In my time on the board two that stick out previously are Meek's Cutoff and The Master.

So I've heard from YnEoS and zedz that the film is masterfully directed and creates anxiety and tension. And I agree. And I've heard from YnEoS that the film is about alienation. And from zedz that it's partaking in a critique of the creepiness of romcom tropes that films likeThe Graduate pioneered half a century ago. But I haven't heard anyone stand up for the story as such. So I'd be curious to hear a defense of the film's narrative from any supporters of the film.

A few questions I still have after reading dozens of reviews and chatting a bit above: How is this the most interesting or illuminating story to tell about these characters? What do you learn about each of them by the end of the film that you didn't know the first time you met them? What do they learn about themselves? We know what the boyfriend wants, but what does the girl want? What about the professor?

And some bonus questions for those who've seen more Kiarostami films: What do you discover about the loneliness/alienation of big city life in Japan (or anywhere in the modern world) that adds to Kiarostami's already strong investigation of these themes in earlier films like Close-Up, Taste of Cherry and Ten? What do you learn about prostitution in the film and how does that compare to what's featured in Ten?

*[Wages of Fear, in fact, is such a strong story that it was successfully remade decades latter by William Freidkin. The day that anyone remakes Like Someone In Love because it's got an amazing story I'll eat all of my posts. The other thing to say about Wages of Fear is that the incredible tension works so well because we know so much about the characters, what they are trying to do and the dangerous obstacles in their path. There's a whole hour or so devoted to that kind of set-up and it pays off in droves later on. Like Someone In Love on the other hand, in rather stark contrast to so many other well-constructed Kiarostami films, sets up almost nothing that pays off later on except for the boyfriend's jealous volatility and the brief episode about Akiko's grandmother.]


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 1:44 am 
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I guess for me the narrative wasn't so much about illuminating certain lifestyles or character traits as it was about illuminating certain universal social forces. Like the interaction between the old man and the boyfriend on their first encounter. It seems to take these melodramatic plot devices and distills them in the tiniest possible aspects of modern society, so something so sleight as a phone call or voice mail can become the most stressful experience.

Perhaps stronger characterization would've made the film more effective. For me I was so enraptured by the layers of social interaction and the non-stop flow of these improbable mishaps, that it never seemed like anything was missing. I plan on seeing it again soon, but I don't think being more plot driven will make it deteriorate with time. I find these invisible social boundaries so awkward and unbearable, that even complete understanding of them doesn't make them go away, and I think Kiarostami makes much better use of them than I've seen in many films.

I may hate myself for making these comparisons later, but I found Johnny To's Life Without Principle to work on me in a similar fashion. It has several poorly developed storylines in it, but together they all paint a really strong portrait of the way different interactions between people are governed by money. And if I may stretch a bit further perhaps even some Bresson films like L'Argent? Don't want to get bogged down with debating effectiveness of certain movie comparisons, I'm sure on closer examination there are tons of differences, but those examples are what immediately sprung to mind.

*[I can see your point about Wages of Fear being remade, but I'm sure there are plenty of strong narratives that were never adapted for wider audiences for a number of other reasons.]


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:20 am 
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Those are some interesting comparisons. Though I'd say that, for me, Johnnie To and Bresson are both much clearer on the motivations of all their characters. I was never uncertain about what anyone in Life Without Principle or L'argent wanted. And the truly remarkable thing about the Bresson film is how fully he creates a character in just a few moments.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
We know everything we need to know about why any given person passes those forged bills and about why the eventual settled upon protagonist refuses to help himself out of his dilemma and then, further, why he allows the implications of that decision to scar his soul and ripple outward into violence against other innocents, especially a saintly woman who least deserves it.
The more I think about Like Someone In Love the more it seems to me that the tension inherent in a first viewing rests largely on a series of questions the film raises in the audience:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Who is the girl? What is her relationship with her boyfriend like; what does she want from it? Where is she going? Will she connect with her grandmother before it's too late? Who is the professor? What does he really want from the girl -- sex, companionship, surrogate daughter/wife roleplay? What has changed in each one of them the morning after? Why is the professor still so attached to her? Why does she allow him to be? How important is the professor's current book project -- does he need the work/money to live or is it something he's doing purely to pass the time? What will happen if the angry boyfriend finds out how they really know each other?
And yet most of these questions in Like Someone In Love remain uninterestingly unanswered. As opposed to, say, the way that Taste of Cherry or The Wind WIll Carry Us work. In each case there's one or two straightforward central questions:
[Reveal] Spoiler:
For TOC: What's Mr. Badii doing driving around the hills? + Will Mr. Badii kill himself? And for TWWCU: Why has the Engineer come to the village?
The central dramatic questions are so simple, yet the potential answers and the circuitous path full of worthwhile digressions, embellishments and multiple follow-up questions on the way is what makes each film so special.

In the end of The Wind Will Carry Us you could say that there's either a fascinating non-answer or a poetic challenge to the question itself.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
Q: Why has the Engineer come to the village? A: Not so much to film something that keeps not happening when he needed it to happen yesterday but to slow down a little and appreciate the rhythms of village life. To learn a pretty deep lesson about how sometimes the best thing that can happen to us is everything that happens while we're anxiously awaiting some trumped up main event that never comes.
In the end of Taste of Cherry, Kiarsostami's frustrating/exhilarating refusal to answer feels like it's breaking new cinematic ground.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 9:09 am 
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Interesting discussion. I'd love to join in -- if only I could get a chance to see this film. ;~}


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 1:36 pm 
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warren oates wrote:
How is this the most interesting or illuminating story to tell about these characters? What do you learn about each of them by the end of the film that you didn't know the first time you met them? What do they learn about themselves? We know what the boyfriend wants, but what does the girl want? What about the professor?


Are these really questions that have any relevance to a film like this one? Or are they the necessary workshop questions for a certain kind of film or screenplay, one that is playing by these rules and that must be held accountable by a viewer if it breaks them? You're claiming that Kiarostami wasn't faithful to the tenets of central-conflict theory in this, one of his most elusive films, when I think it's a dubious proposition at best that any of his films could be considered beholden to them. No, I have barely more of an idea about who these characters are by the end of the film, but I have dozens of intriguing, stimulating, affecting ideas about who they could be. It's not that it's wrong to ask what the characters want, (in fact, the way Kiarostami employs suspense and red herrings demands it), but you're barking up the wrong tree if you expect empirical answers to your questions. It's a fundamentally ambiguous film.*

warren oates wrote:
And some bonus questions for those who've seen more Kiarostami films: What do you discover about the loneliness/alienation of big city life in Japan (or anywhere in the modern world) that adds to Kiarostami's already strong investigation of these themes in earlier films like Close-Up, Taste of Cherry and Ten? What do you learn about prostitution in the film and how does that compare to what's featured in Ten?


Plenty! Just focussing on the professor's position, we have a character who's managed at a late age to create a life of hermetic comfort in his well-appointed apartment, while the rest of the world is literally kept at bay (windows), observable, analyzable, and, perhaps most significantly, delectable, all seemingly without risk to his person. I mean, hell, he can have a prostitute delivered to his apartment with more ease than a bowl of soup. Even that "hometown, homecooked" soup is a way of making contact with another world without personal risk. He's a translator and a sociologist, an expert in "objective" evaluation of milieus other than his own. I think there's an element of self-parody in Kiarostami's depiction of the character, as the filmmaker is of course also tussling with "translating" another culture than his own in making the film. The professor has a neighbor who has devoted her life and interests to him, but he's skillfully managed to shrink the issue into a dispute over car parking. He hires a prostitute who might also be his daughter or student, but their mutually enforced naivety prevents the transaction from having any appearance other than that of blissful, semi-comic innocence. And all of this is enabled by the modern, cultured metropolis, a space where the most perfidious self-deceptions and social abuses can occur as long as certain rules and limits are respected. Of course, the false confidence inspired in the professor by this utopia eventually leads him astray, and he discovers some of the pain, danger, and violence lying just under the polished surfaces of his everyday life. The ending is apocalyptic, a bitterly funny update of that old adage "don't throw stones in glass houses". I think it's one of the best city films I've ever seen, and I could go on much longer talking about what I think it has to say about the life I and billions of others lead.

I do think it's considerably weaker as a film about Japan, and especially as about prostitution in Japan. The subject is introduced and depicted in a way that seems, not incorrect, but alien, and overly familiar from other outsiders' cinematic takes on the country, giving justification to Straub's criticism of Kiarostami as a "tourist". This is part of the reason that I think there's an element of auto-critique in the depiction of the professor, a metafictional acknowledgment that the director's film might have failings as an objective, realist, document.

warren oates wrote:
*[Wages of Fear, in fact, is such a strong story that it was successfully remade decades latter by William Freidkin. The day that anyone remakes Like Someone In Love because it's got an amazing story I'll eat all of my posts. The other thing to say about Wages of Fear is that the incredible tension works so well because we know so much about the characters, what they are trying to do and the dangerous obstacles in their path. There's a whole hour or so devoted to that kind of set-up and it pays off in droves later on. Like Someone In Love on the other hand, in rather stark contrast to so many other well-constructed Kiarostami films, sets up almost nothing that pays off later on except for the boyfriend's jealous volatility and the brief episode about Akiko's grandmother.]


Neither Clouzot or Friedkin are total auteurs in the way that Kiarostami or hundreds of other directors are. That isn't to say that they're lesser filmmakers, just that they are more adaptable, in both senses of the word. There's a reason that the remake of Breathless is such a punchline in some circles, and it's not because of any qualitative judgement of the end results. It's just that the original film is so ferociously idiosyncratic that any attempt at a remake is doomed to either drastically reimagine the narrative or hollowly ape it, making the relationship between the two films tenuous at best and derivative at worst. The day someone does a faithful, not-awful American remake of Close-Up I'll eat my posts.


*Similar, in many ways, to the work of Kurosawa Kiyoshi, who I was delighted to see is thanked in the credits. I like to imagine that during production Kurosawa and Kiarostami took many long car rides together, with back-projected images of tree lined avenues reflected in an endless loop across the windshield.


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