Posted By Jonathan Rosenbaum on 12.29.06 at 08:00 AM
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.
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. And his remarks about what he regards as ideal viewers and viewing situations may also raise a few eyebrows. Not only does he approve of viewers falling asleep while watching Five and say so without the slightest trace of irony, he also recommends comfortable armchairs. So a DVD player at home with good speakers and a reasonable-sized screen is a much more ideal setting than any art museum — which is lamentably where this film has mainly been shown, when it’s been showing at all. It still hasn’t surfaced in Chicago in any form. But now it’s accessible to anyone who bothers to order it, as I just did. And I hasten to add that under the right conditions, it’s an immensely pleasurable experience, even if one stays awake. I actually prefer it to his 10 — and About Five is better than his Ten on 10.
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