33. “A Moment of Innocence”, Mohsen Makhmalbaf (1996)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list

A Moment of Innocence

A Moment of Innocence aka نون و گلدون‎‎ or Nūn o goldūn

dir. Mohsen Makhmalbaf scr. Mohsen Makhmalfbaf cin. Mahmoud Kalari with Mirhadi Tayebi, Mohsen Makhmalfbaf, Ali Bakhsi, Ammar Tafti, Maryam Mohamadamini

In 100 words: Similar in concept to Kiarostrami’s Close-Up, in that it deals with a meta-depiction of a real-life event through the fictionalized (?) shooting of the event in question. Its reflexive qualities are more bracing and provocative, as we watch adults watch themselves onscreen, and the rush of nostalgia that kicks in slowly turning to feelings of fury and humiliation. It’s a stellar depiction of the Iranian Revolution and the sociopolitical ramifications of that event. Innocence is the rare film to function as a succinct essay on what cinema can capture and evidently its inability to recreate exact moments from the past.

Other Movies for Context: I’m not well-versed in either Iranian cinema or Makhmalbaf’s filmography outside of Kiarostrami. But this film also feels like Irma Vep (1995), which features a metadepiction of cinema but far more fictionalized than this.

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58. “Close-Up”, Abbas Kiarostami (1990)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Close Up

Close-Up aka کلوزآپ ، نمای نزدیک‎ or Klūzāp, nemā-ye nazdīk

dir. Abbas Kiarostami scr. Abbas Kiarostami cin. Ali Reza Zarrindast with Hossain Sabzian and Mohsen Makhmalbaf

In 100 words: Defying easy classification, this blend of documentary and fiction heralded a new form of filmmaking that guided modern Iranian cinema. The reconstruction of a real-life crime, mixed with actual footage of the court proceedings blurred the lines between reality and manipulation, while simultaneously commenting on Iranian society, justice, identity, and the effects of cinema on people. The construction of the movie alone is dizzying, but I I’m more fascinated by the level of coordination and the amount of access the filmmakers were able to receive. That and the uncommon poetic tenderness that Kiarostami imbues in his trickster remains disarmingly sweet.

Other Movies for Context: I wasn’t as keen on the other movie often cited to be his greatest, the Palme d’Or winner Taste of Cherry (1997), which was pretty great until that ending that made me angry. But to each his own, Kiarostami is a fascinating director and I look forward to seeing more of his work. Another filmmaker, the director who was impersonated here, will make an appearance on this list with a film that follows a similar reflexive style but deeper, I think.