Kiarostami. Kiarostami is an accomplished auteur and worthy acolyte of the cinematic realists. If you roughly break down the auteurs by those that are grounded in realism, and those grounded in exresspionism—again—he’s an important figure in the former category. His dedication to what is authentic has been cause for genre/categorization discussions/debates over the years as much of his docudramas—are—really—documentaries (or a composite of the two). This makes it tough for me as I don’t watch and study documentaries (I studied them in college and found far too often they were subject/agenda-driven in their goal and ambitions instead of stylistically driven). That’s ok though- I don’t really do experimental cinema, music videos, most television either. Anyways- back to Kiarostami—for the purposes of this list the strengths of Kiarostami is the sheer ingenuity of his films—the unmistakable imprint he puts on his work—those painterly Iranian landscapes—in particular. He also has 1 top 500 film (Taste of Cherry) and another (Where is the Friend’s House? That lands safely in the top 100 of the 1980’s).

Best film: Taste of Cherry. It is the peak of Kiarostami’s long-shot rural scenery work.

Taste of Cherry takes the orange sun (luminous shot here), red rural sand to create such distinct (and beautiful) sort of filter over the entire film

total archiveable films: 7

top 100 films:  0

top 500 films:  1 (Taste of Cherry)

top 100 films of the decade:  2 (Where Is the Friend’s House?, Taste of Cherry)

most overrated: Ten is at #945 on the TSPDT consensus top 1000 list and I can’t get behind that. You may ask about Close-Up, as that is Kiarostami’s top rated film (#86 overall right now on TSPDT) and I’ve seen it twice—I think I’d just, ultimately, have to categorize it as a documentary— it’s murky—but that’s my decision. Anyways, back to Ten– I have it in the archives but it is a series of this shot below. It is 10 conversations of women driving taxis in cars. Now, it’s in the archives because the set-up leads to fascinating discussions, a formal challenge, and that’s a trademark shot of his (his interior of the car shot is trademark)—but it is hardly cinematic and, frankly, it’s pretty ugly to look at. I wouldn’t have it in my top 1000 for sure. The concept and politics are ambitious and strong— but the filmmaking really isn’t.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ten-kiarostami-aldjfka-23.jpg
a trademark shot of Kiarostami here in Ten

most underrated:  There’s nothing here. I would probably only have 2 films in my top 1000 for Kiarostami and the TSPDT has 7. They have him rated as the #40 director of all-time and I’m at #137.

gem I want to spotlight:  Where is the Friend’s House? It is Kiarostami announcing himself as a neorealist auteur (carrying the torch into the 21st century from the Italians like the Dardenne’s, Mike Leigh—Andrea Arnold a bit) and his distant rural compositions.

there’s something that just feels right about Kiarostami’s first major work (Where Is My Friend’s House?) being about a young boy– like De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves

stylistic innovations/traits:   Kiarostami’s aesthetics and dogma may resemble the original Italian neorealists (a dedication to authentic storytelling, gorilla-style filmmaking, non-professional actors) but he’s a true cinema original—unequivocally. He’s an important reference point when comparing modes and styles of filmmakers over the last 40 years and a antithetical figure (to Hollywood) that cinema (at least as an arftorm) has needed. He uses long takes, long shots of beautiful Iranian terrains. He’s been an important figure (and this is harder to wrap your head around) on the subject of realism—often blurring acting with reality, docudrama and documentary, copy with the original, truth vs. fiction.

an immaculate composition from The Wind Will Carry Us
yet another– Kiarostami’s trademark landscape shot– in Where is the Friend’s House?

top 10

  1. Taste of Cherry
  2. Where is the Friend’s House?
  3. The Wind Will Carry Us
  4. Certified Copy
  5. Through the Olive Trees
  6. Life, and Nothing More…
  7. Ten

By year and grades

1987- Where is the Friend’s House? HR
1992- Life, and Nothing More…
1994- Through the Olive Trees R
1997- Taste of Cherry MS
1999- The Wind Will Carry Us
2002- Ten R
2010- Certified Copy R/HR

*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film

MS is Must-see- top 5-6 quality of the year film

HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film

R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives