Daily Archives: December 29, 2006

Abbas Kiarostami’s Five is finally available [Chicago Reader blog post, 12/29/06]

Posted By on 12.29.06 at 08:00 AM

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Fans of Abbas Kiarostami who have been wondering when they’ll be able to see Five (2003) — his 74-minute, five- part experimental film without dialogue, all shot on the seashore while he was scripting Jafar Panahi’s Crimson Gold — should know that it’s recently come out in France on a well-produced DVD released by MK2 and  readily available from French Amazon for just under 28 Euros. [2014 note: It's now available on U.K. Amazon.] (Like other overseas DVDs, it’s playable on any multiregional DVD player, which includes a surprising number of stateside computers.) Apparently part of the reason for the long delay was Kiarostami’s slowness in producing a “making of” documentary, though what he’s finally come up with — his hour-long About Five, completed in  late 2005, available with English subtitles on the same DVD — is quite fascinating. Responding to pertinent questions put to him by English critic and programmer Geoff Andrew, he views his own work with a lot of refreshing as well as helpful candor.

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Much as the French DVD of The Wind Will Carry Us, also released by MK2 (and somewhat cheaper, even though it’s a two-disc set), includes a couple of mind-boggling Japanese documentaries (also with English subtitles) that have done much to enhance my appreciation of one of Kiarostami’s greatest films, his own account of his more modest Five is no less full of surprising revelations about the elaborate artifice that lurks behind most of his seeming causalness and off-handed methods as a filmmaker.

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Pan’s Labyrinth

A Mexican-Spanish coproduction by the talented Guillermo del Toro (Cronos), this nightmarish fairy tale for grown-ups takes place in Spain after the civil war, when the Republicans were still counting on help from the Allies that would never come. A little girl in the rural north (Ivana Baquero) whose widowed mother has married a sadistic captain of the Guardia Civil (Sergi Lopez) conjures up a faun (Doug Jones), who identifies her as a princess and gives her three tasks to accomplish before she can be returned to her underground kingdom. Unlike most horror movies, this chiller gives equal prominence to reality and fantasy, though the reality is far more frightening. The only precedent that comes to mind in terms of a lyrical treatment of a child’s experience of terror is The Night of the Hunter. In Spanish with subtitles. R, 120 min. (JR)… Read more »

Tension

A mousy druggist (Richard Basehart) married to a two-timing tramp (Audrey Totter) contrives to kill his wife’s lover (Lloyd Gough) in this absorbing 1950 noir directed by the underrated and soon-to-be-blacklisted John Berry (He Ran All the Way). Cyd Charisse is his wholesome neighbor and Barry Sullivan a sleazy cop, who narrates. The married couple predate and likely influenced Elisha Cook and Marie Windsor’s characters in The Killing. 95 min. (JR)… Read more »