This past year felt like a year of loss. From the passing of major music legends Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen to the death of political sanity as the British voted for disunion and my fellow Americans elected a shockingly inept property tycoon-turned-celebrity as our next president, 2016 will likely not be remembered for its bright spots. For the film community, add to that list the devastating loss of filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami. The Iranian master died on July 4, but it’s been difficult for this writer to string together words eloquent enough to try to articulate exactly why he was rightfully held in such high regard.
And yet, on this site the man hardly needs an introduction. I’ve written about each of his nine major features spanning the better part of four decades and have cited his influence in evaluations of many other films. This site’s name even borrows the title of one of his finest works. Needless to say, the man had a significant impact not only on the cinematic medium itself, but also on the shaping of my tastes and the lens through which I view filmic art. Kiarostami was without a doubt one of my very favorite filmmakers and, from an (attempted) objective standpoint, one of the greatest, most uniquely challenging artists who ever pointed a camera at the world.
Rather than retread well-trodden territory attempting to qualify the man’s impact on cinema or quantify his decades-spanning achievements as many critics and fans sought to do in the immediate aftermath of his untimely death, I thought it would be more appropriate to simply highlight my personal favorite moments from his extensive repertoire. No heady explanations, no metaphorical interpretations, just brief reflections on the man’s greatness.
Cleverly using a chalkboard to keep score for the two feuding classmates in Two Solutions to One Problem.
The way he spun one boy’s seemingly inconsequential dilemma into a legitimately suspenseful race against time in Where Is the Friend’s Home?.
That rolling aerosol can in Close-Up.
Roaming the street of Tehran in search of atonement. (Close-Up)
The first of many vehicular adventures in Life, and Nothing More.
That final shot in Life, and Nothing More.
An actor playing a director outlines what he plans to do for a fake movie he didn’t really direct in Through the Olive Trees.
Oh, that glorious final shot! Probably the best “will they or won’t they” in cinematic history. (Through the Olive Trees)
Kiarostami makes a cameo as himself at the end of Taste of Cherry.
The village tucked into the hillside in The Wind Will Carry Us.
Trying to catch that phone call! (The Wind Will Carry Us)
Her passenger takes off the headscarf in Ten.
Reflections on the windshield of this heady countryside conversation in Certified Copy.
Juliette Binoche threatens to outshine her director only because she could. (Certified Copy)
Where’s the speaker in this opening shot from Like Someone in Love?
This awkward car conversation that brings Like Someone in Love’s three principle characters together.
R.I.P. one of history’s great artists.