I finished a bag of chips as we started to watch Jafar Panahi’s Taxi. I was about to get up and throw it away but waited.
The opening shot held too much promise, a point of view from Panahi’s car as he started through Tehran. I folded the bag and held it tight.There is so very much to say about Panahi’s film Taxi – searing political statement, marvel in story-telling, profound celebration of life, comic odyssey into sordid realism (a phrase repeated throughout) – but what struck me most is the advice given by Panahi to a prospective filmmaker who sits in the back of the car. After being told that the young man had read many books but could not find a good subject for a film, Panahi replies: “Those films are already made, those books already written. You have to look elsewhere.” If only Hollywood and the rest of the film-making world would listen to that; it’s the ideas that matter and not the budget. Imagine what the Oscars might look like then, with none of the Mad Max, Gravity, Lord of the Rings nonsense. Actual films instead…what a world that could be.
The film ended as suddenly as it had began, the camera removed, the screen now black. I realized that I still held the plastic bag tight and, at long last, stood to throw it away.
The 2013 Oscar Award Nominations were announced at 8:45 (EDT) this morning, some of which were sadly predictable (12 nominations for Lincoln), some happily not (No Best Director for Tarantino, Bigelow or Affleck) and some more good, bad and ugly than the rest.
The Good: This is apparently the year of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild and Michael Haneke’s Amour.
The Bad: Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master wasn’t nominated for Direction nor Cinematography, despite the fact that it is certainly one of the most visually striking films of the past several years. The Ugly: Jafar Panahi’s This is Not a Film wasn’t nominated for anything. The failure to recognize this film for its cinematography and profound social commentary underscores the mind-numbing ignorance of Hollywood. Like every year, it is best to just breathe and remember that the Oscars are not so much about recognizing filmmaking as they are about promoting the Hollywood machine. The idea is to get more people to pay their $12 at the theatre – $26 with drink and popcorn – and leave it at that. Baa.