Monday, August 18, 2014

#708: Like Someone in Love

(Abbas Kiarostami, 2012)

Certified Copy is possibly my favorite movie of the last ten years, so Like Someone in Love was a highly anticipated viewing despite the conventional wisdom that seemed to place it a step down from Kiarostami's last film. Even though I would agree that the movie doesn't quite live up to its predecessor, Like Someone in Love is a perfect companion piece to that film, and a rewarding and engaging cinematic mystery.

Like Certified Copy, the movie deals in vague plot details matched with vivid characters. The three main players here, like the two in Certified Copy, feel just as real and relatable as the protagonists of any movie, and yet we know so little about their backgrounds as to feel we are getting only an abstract portrait of their inner lives. Unlike Certified Copy, however, the film revolves around one character that holds the key to understanding - Takashi, the older man, who knows the truth about his relationship with Akiko but declines to reveal it. This makes the film much less of an intellectual exercise than Certified Copy, where both main characters seem to be toying with the viewer in a surrealist and removed way, but it also makes it a tad more infuriating, since it seems like the whole matter could be easily cleared up in a confessional scene.

Kiarostami is, of course, totally unconcerned with such matters, and remains much more engaged with the ways in which people relate to both each other and the outside world. As in his previous films, the post-modern flair, obtuse thematic structure, and car driving/riding sequences define the director's aesthetic. But Someone in Love firmly resides in Kiarostami's second career, that of an exiled artist obsessed with his national crisis. It's no surprise that Kiarostami's two films outside of Iran, Certified Copy and Like Someone in Love, immediately imply removal from a subject - for Kiarostami, every film he makes outside of Iran is removed from its true intentions, a simulacrum of the film he really wanted to make. The final moments of both films are revelation interrupted, a moment of foreplay or violence that speaks to the greater truth of the respective film, and the ultimate metaphor for Kiarostami's identity unrealized by his exile.

It might be a crude comparison, but this era of Kiarostami's work reminds me of Caetano Veloso's exile from his home country of Brazil. Both artists fuse modern global aesthetics with personal and national styles which are distinct to their respective countries, and Veloso's 1971 self-titled album feels unsettling and mysterious. Like Kiarostami, Veloso chose to work in a language that was not his own, but that of the country in which he was creating art. If the metaphor is to hold, the Iranian filmmaker has much more experimental and arguably difficult land to traverse. But the journey will never be anything less than invigorating and impressive. Kiarostami is certainly one of the great living filmmakers - that he hails from one of the world's most notorious and complex countries only makes his emergence that much more powerful.

On a personal note, this is my 500th post on a Criterion movie on this blog. I honestly never thought I'd get this far, but it's been a thoroughly rewarding journey, one I wouldn't trade for any other artistic endeavor I've made. I've obviously slowed down a great deal since I "caught up" with the collection - which has made me slip a bit in terms of keeping up. But as long as Criterion continues to put out movies, I'll continue to watch them and post here. Even as they encounter more financial issues and turn to ever bigger releases to maintain their place  in the market, I believe in what Criterion is doing and continue to have faith that they will be around for spine number 1000 and beyond. Here's hoping we are all there to see it happen.


  1. About how much movies have you seen? What are your thoughts on movie watching, experiencing these different philosophies, in general?
    Cinema was a part of my life. A project of sorts. I've seen <2000 movies, motivated by the Sight and Sound polls of 2002 and 2012. Mainly comprised by, the generally accepted, great movies and the works of the great directors. It was an incredible, moving part of my life. I'll re-watch movies one day. Which ones and how much of what I've seen is to be determined. Outside of Alfred Hitchcock, Yasujiro Ozu and movies like 2001 : a space odyessy, Otto E Mezzo, Shoah, Un Chein Andalou etc., i find that too many of these "great" movies are heavy on the heart and soul..and too many times cynical. Why an individual (these critics) would take cynical as "real" is beyond me. I would rather not be impacted by too many of these philosophies on a continuous basis. I believe that in the main, real is what you make it out to be.
    I rather not waste precious moments of my life behind a screen when i could be out there really living. Now i'm onto other projects, seeing the world, building my body..Real experiences in general.

  2. I haven't counted the number of movies I've seen since I was a teenager so I'm really not sure, but my guess would be that I've seen about 4000. I have certainly slowed down since my kids were born, but I find that watching a movie after dinner is a nice way to relax, and I prefer it to reading fiction (though I read a substantial amount of non-fiction and journalism). I would say only about half of that number are "greats" in the canonical sense, though, as I often watch more conventional American-style entertainment with my wife, so I don't see as philosophical as much as cultural. Most movies from America have only a subconscious viewpoint - sort of like most Americans. I find it easy to balance "Real life" experiences with interactions with art, and I find I am often most engaged with the world when I am doing both on a regular basis.

    I have a hard time thinking of a movie that is more heavy on the heart and soul than Shoah, though. I would agree that there is too much of an emphasis on drama and melodrama in Criterion specifically and film criticism generally, however. Comedies are overlooked because they are not considered "Art" which is pretty silly.