I am a longtime apologist for slow pacing in cinema. There is something about that spacious temporal environment that feels luxurious to me. In the hands of a talented filmmaker, obviously.
Abbas Kiarostami is a director whose evangelical fans include Martin Scorsese, Jean-Luc Godard, and Akira Kurosawa. His work is compared to that of Tarkovsky.
One of the most highly acclaimed Kiarostami films is 1997 Palme d’Or winner Taste of Cherry. I recently chose this for crossing-off from my discouragingly long list of cinematic masterpieces I’ve not yet seen. Here’s what I saw: a guy drives around and around on a dusty, barren hill, expressionless, occasionally engaging with strangers on the enigmatic job he offers. Well, the job becomes less enigmatic with each encounter. But the driving does not become less around and around, the hill does not become less dusty or barren, and the expressiveness of this character does not increase.
He plans to commit suicide, and for some reason he wants to be buried in this remote, anonymous hillside hole after the fact. He’s already dug the hole, he just needs someone to refill it once his corpse is at the bottom. His prospective hole-fillers offer no interesting explanations for their refusals. I would estimate that there are 85 or 90 minutes of this movie in which the frame is the hero’s expressionless, driving face, or clay-coloured dust clouds billowing around the hero’s vehicle as it progresses along the dirt road that winds around the dusty, barren hill. The movie’s first ending is the guy in the grave, still alive. The movie’s second ending is the revelation of the cinematic device, in other words, shots of the director and collaborators on location.
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