Daily Archives: Thursday, July 4, 2013

  • Like someone in love Abbas Kiarostami (Fr Japan 2012)

    Like someone in love Abbas
    Kiarostami (Fr Japan 2012) Tadashi
    Okuno, Rin
    Takanashi, Ryo

    Viewed: BFI London Ticket price £7.50
    Adrin Neatrour writes: Like having an
    idea such as smashing the glass
    Like someone in love is the third film
    that Abbas Kairostami has made outside Iran as a self exiled film
    maker. Kairostami decided to make his films outside Iran because the
    political religious regime had made it almost impossible for him to
    work inside the country. Kairostami’s films have always attracted
    the hostility and censorship of the Iranian authorities who even
    destroyed the master 35mm negative of his 1978 marital drama, the
    Report. Had he persisted in film making there he would certainly
    have found himself under house arrest or even imprisoned, a fate that
    has befallen other Iranian film makers.

    But what’s an exiled film maker gonna
    to make films about? Kairostami has always made his films in Iran
    and his subject matter has always been set in an Iranian context. Can
    you take the fish out of water and expect it to breath and to make

    His films may have been set in Iran but
    at the heart of his films lies Kairostami’s intelligence. His films
    are not mechanical products; each is the outcome of a process of
    thinking – thinking about images.

    One of the concepts at the root of his
    thinking is the idea of oppositions, oppositions that you can see in
    people. Oppositions such as in – relationships – man and woman;
    age – old people young people; life and death, knowledge and
    ignorance, individual and family. And of course the context of
    Iranian society with politico religious forces shaping the social
    matrix, provided Kairostami’s films with a wide range of fault lines
    to examine and probe.

    So what’s he doing in Japan? Like
    someone in love…what a strange title for his film. It’s the name of
    a song, an old jazz standard. What does it mean, what does it point

    I think that in this film Kairostami
    has created a new take on the old Japanese idea of the Floating
    World. Famously represented in series of nineteenth wood cuts, the
    Floating World was the name given to the transient world of pleasure
    created by geishas prositutes and clients in nineteenth Tokyo. A
    world of impermanence. In Like someone in love, Kairostami
    revisualises the floating world as a series of multiple planes of
    light that drift across the screen, the reflections and refractions
    of modern Tokyo that float over the images of his characters,
    obscuring them but at the same time placing them in context of night
    and pleasure.

    Tokyo is realised by Kairostami as a
    series of surfaces. The bars the streets and clubs present a dazzling
    beguiling field of vision for the eye. Japan’s culture is overlaid
    with Western technological forms that it has made its own. It looks
    like the West but it isn’t; and Akiko, Kairostami’s girl protagonist,
    always looks like someone who she isn’t.

    Kairostami sees that a whole range of
    social relations have been absorbed into a new floating world of
    impermanence; he also sees that he is an outsider peering into this
    culture, through a glass darkly, trying to distinguish image from
    reflection and reflection from image. And once the reality of the
    glass is admitted then it too becomes part of picture, and also
    there will come moments swhen the glass itself will crack

    This is a mirror crystal world, and
    within it Kairostami projects a love story – of sorts of the sort
    that might reveal some of the critical stresses at work in this

    Kairostami loves cars as settings in
    his films. Many of his films use scenes inside automobiles. He
    revels in the contradiction that amidst the frenzy of life, it is
    often inside a car, the symbol of movement, that his characters find
    the stillness and space.

    In Like someone in love, there is a
    typical Kurostami moment of interaction in which like a brain surgeon
    he penetrates through the hard surface presented the skull into the
    deeper soft tissues of the brain. During the taxi ride taken by Akiko
    to her new client, Kairostami inserts a scene which is brilliantly
    conceived as a series of verbal phone messages picked up by Akiko
    from her grandmother. The grandmother’s unsentimental prosaic words
    project in full relief not only the growing void separating young and
    old but the characteristic emptiness of mobile communications which
    increasingly serve the dysfunction of not communicating.

    It is the economy that Kairostami
    brings to his understanding of Japan that lights up the movie. Using
    only simple settings the interior of a car, the interior of an
    apartment, the interior of a club he coaxes the surfaces of this
    floating world to separate a little and to see the forces at work
    that maintain the tension in the glass images: relations between men
    and women, old and young, the new and the old, between the imported
    culture and the older traditions.

    It might sound complex but it is all
    done very simply almost without us realising it, until we start to
    pay attention. As in the scene where Akiko lies asleep in bed and
    her very elderly client, selects a record from his album collection,
    plays Ella Fitzgerald singing Like someone in love. The camera pans
    off him to the dining table, set for dinner for two, plates knives
    and forks and two long stemmed empty wine glasses, and Ella sings:

    Everytime I look at you I’m as limp as
    a glove, feeling like someone in love…”

    For Kairostami, it’s time to break the

    Adrin Neatrour