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Certified Copy


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#21 Overstreet

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Posted 08 March 2011 - 02:43 PM

Sicinski just saw it a second time and Tweeted it a perfect 10:

Still mindblowingly awesome. (Does this thing go to 11?)


Edited by Overstreet, 08 March 2011 - 02:43 PM.


#22 Brian D

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 04:34 PM

This is beginning to sound really good.
--The New Yorker just had a nice article about Kiarostami in which they (David Denby, I think) praised this film to the roof. I can't find the review on line, but it was intriguing that the New Yorker considered this a great film and also a film that was very affirming of marriage.
--I also just saw Gleiberman's review from EW, which consists of the following big rave: "Abbas Kiarostami's deft conversational drama (Certified Copy) has the appeal of a middle-aged Before Sunrise. In Tuscany, an 
 English art historian (William Shimell) spends a long, rambling day with a Frenchwoman (Juliette Binoche) who came to hear him lecture. Then an enchantingly odd thing happens: The two start to pretend they know each other...and suddenly the playacting turns real. They do know each other, and the movie, like an art-house Vertigo, passes through a looking glass. The end will haunt you."

#23 Overstreet

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 04:23 PM

I'm bookmarking Sicinski's review at MUBI to read after I've seen the film. I missed the screening yesterday; couldn't leave the office for a noontime press screening. And yes, that really, really hurt.

#24 M. Leary

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Posted 17 March 2011 - 04:29 PM

It is pretty darn good. Despite Sicinski's praise, I was predisposed to not like the film. But I am almost glad I went into it with the feeling of needing to be won over. I have a Filmwell piece on it, but...

Edited by M. Leary, 17 March 2011 - 04:30 PM.


#25 M. Leary

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 06:00 PM

Peter Bradshaw says:

"It is a film that is pregnant with ideas, and for aspiring to a cinema of ideas Kiarostami is to be thanked and admired. But the simple human inter-relation between the two characters is never in the smallest way convincing, and there is a translated, inert feel to the dialogue."

The last sentence is a truly bizarre comment. There is a distinct point halfway through the film that these characters become so convincing it is confusing.

Edited by M. Leary, 20 March 2011 - 06:12 PM.


#26 M. Leary

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Posted 21 March 2011 - 09:05 AM

I am really champing at the bit to talk about this film here.

I agree that it is a film about marriage, despite the wide array of relational configurations its two main characters could inhabit.

But it is also a crescendo in Kairostami's career-long obsession with cinema and self-perception. I guess what we learn from Certified Copy is that this innovative impluse we found in the Iranian New Wave, which revealed itself in Kairostami's tendency to ignore the fourth wall, is not just a handy political or social device. Rather, Kairostami has always been onto something more fundamental, something that emerges from his camera as a means of thinking compassionately about other people. As it turns out, Kairostami has always been interested in love. Not just romantic love, marital love, or an abstract form of social compassion. But love as the fundamental element of the stories we tell about ourselves, and the stories we tell about each other. For better or for worse, we are all histories of love. (And this idea that "we are all histories of love" is the basis of a pretty profound politic... But that is probably the Yoder in me emerging in response to this film.)

Our experience of love reconstructs the timing and arranging of events in our self-narration, and configures the way we think about our future. After watching Certified Copy, I just sat and thought back through all the other Kairostami films and watched these little switches flip. There has been something Resnais-like going on. Something Tarkovskian going on. I just never noticed it before.*

I didn't get Sicinski's praise for this film until this little a-ha moment happened. Now I get it. I think this is a really important film not just because it represents the high point of Kairostami's work, but because it does something a bit mind-blowing: It shows us the transcendent pulse of what I always pigeon-holed as a political film movement.

*Though in hindsight this is exactly why I have always prized Makhmalbaf's The Cyclist, which while being very political is also very fundamentally about a simple act of love by someone unwilling to accept the current "story".

Edited by M. Leary, 21 March 2011 - 09:25 AM.


#27 Overstreet

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 10:38 PM

Overwhelming. Absolutely overwhelming.

The implications of the film's last act are so tremendous that I'm afraid to review this film. Afraid I'll jump to conclusions.

Leary, I'm going to have to email you.

#28 Overstreet

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Posted 25 March 2011 - 11:23 PM

And yes, Michael. Bradshaw's comment is really bizarre.

#29 M. Leary

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 08:46 AM

Overwhelming. Absolutely overwhelming.

The implications of the film's last act are so tremendous that I'm afraid to review this film. Afraid I'll jump to conclusions.


I know exactly how you feel. I am going to have to go out on a few limbs in mine, but situations like this demand it.

But it sounds like you also think Kairostami is being self-reflective here in terms of his career as an Iranian artist? I have only read two reviews of the film, but I am not seeing anyone really address this. It seems to me that this is a pretty profound lens through which we can watch all these copies unfold.

And just to toss this out, this film has forced me out on an interesting limb. If I am reading the film correctly, then Kairostami is intentionally validating the reasons I think cinema is so important.

Edited by M. Leary, 26 March 2011 - 09:00 AM.


#30 Overstreet

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Posted 26 March 2011 - 10:18 AM

Let's talk about Binoche, too. I really need to see this again, but I think she has expanded the range of her powers with this.

#31 Darren H

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 07:55 AM

Let's talk about Binoche, too.


This probably isn't the kind of response you were looking for, but as I watched Certified Copy I kept thinking, "It's comforting to know that Juliette Binoche will always be one of the sexiest women on the planet and that she'll always be eight years older than I am." That's a strange thought, I know, but it's actually relevant to a discussion of the film. Binoche is beginning to show her age a bit -- she's rounder in the hips (and made to look even rounder by the pleated skirt she wears throughout the film) and there are finally a few wrinkles around her eyes. In other words, she (like her character) is a middle-aged woman, and I as a viewer was constantly looking at her, reevaluating her, seeing her again and again. Kiarostami is so good at making us look closely.

I'm headed out of town today for a business trip but am looking forward to watching this again when I get back. Amazing film, but I definitely need to give it more work.

#32 M. Leary

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 08:51 AM

In other words, she (like her character) is a middle-aged woman, and I as a viewer was constantly looking at her, reevaluating her, seeing her again and again. Kiarostami is so good at making us look closely.


And then he pulls the rug out from underneath us towards the end when she
Spoiler
It is such an offhand gesture, but it reconfigures the looking process. We become acutely aware, in a very material way, of the layers involved with what we have been watching. I don't mean for this to come across as rude in any way, but there are no careless gestures in this film.

Edited by M. Leary, 28 March 2011 - 08:51 AM.


#33 Darren H

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 08:56 AM

I almost mentioned that! And I'm not even particularly interested in the metaphoric implications (removing layers). Knowing that Binoche is no longer wearing a bra makes me look at her differently, just as Miller begins to look at her differently. It is a sexualized gaze. Which reminds me of my favorite part of Michael Sicinski's long essay -- the point near the end where he talks about the different ways we look at our long-term partners. But maybe I just have this at the front of my brain because by coincidence I happened to watch Certified Copy three days before Joanna and I celebrate our 15th anniversary.

#34 Darrel Manson

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 09:30 AM

This probably isn't the kind of response you were looking for, but as I watched Certified Copy I kept thinking, "It's comforting to know that Juliette Binoche will always be one of the sexiest women on the planet and that she'll always be eight years older than I am."

Now you know how I feel about Catherine Deneuve. But at least I look older than she does.

#35 M. Leary

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 09:36 AM

I almost mentioned that! And I'm not even particularly interested in the metaphoric implications (removing layers). Knowing that Binoche is no longer wearing a bra makes me look at her differently, just as Miller begins to look at her differently.


I was trying to figure out how to say that without sounding crass. But it is right on. (And we have just watched her in a very intimate, tight shot put on lipstick and choose just the right earrings, noting the age in her face juxtaposed against a certain gleam in her eye.)

But this happens. This moment happens all the time. It has been a long week and the kids are running us a bit ragged. But it is Saturday in the botanical gardens and my wife is just over there across the little field of lilies and the breeze catches her a certain way. Oh. So, who is that beautiful woman? She looks a bit like my wife but she is older. She looks like she has lived through some difficult things, but the resulting gravity is immensely attractive.

There are two movements happening in that moment: the momentary shock of having to re-recognize your wife, and the awesome gift of re-recognizing your wife. I am not sure which one is the certified copy (the memory or the re-recognition), but I don't really care.

I need to stop talking about this film in public, it makes me blabber like no other film can make me blabber.

Edited by M. Leary, 28 March 2011 - 09:37 AM.


#36 Overstreet

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 12:22 PM

See, now we're zooming in on the aspect of this film I'm most excited to discuss in my review.

It is not an insignificant matter - where she goes to take off her bra.

(That may be my favorite line I've ever posted to A&F, by the way.)

As ridiculous as it seems, it is so important.

Okay, deep breath: I can't take a step in exploring this film without taking several more.

Spoiler


This has everything to do, I suspect, with Kiarostami himself.

He has been criticized by the people of his culture about not producing the kind of art they want him to produce. He is a man without a national identity anymore. He's a man without a country, celebrated around the world for his challenging, cerebral art. He is moving between worlds. Will he stay there as an independent? Or is he hearing some greater call?

Okay, I'm going to cut myself off there. Many more effusive trips through the movie are on the way in the weeks to come, though...

Edited by Overstreet, 28 March 2011 - 01:02 PM.


#37 M. Leary

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 01:01 PM

The camera waiting outside the church is such a bizarre moment. I like the way you track James' control issue in this film. On account of this, I couldn't help but think of the church scene in Eliade terms. She is crosses the threshold, but he simply has to wait for her to come back. Which is quite sad.

#38 Overstreet

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Posted 28 March 2011 - 09:27 PM

The film is also so symmetrical:

Spoiler


#39 M. Leary

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Posted 29 March 2011 - 12:57 PM

There is a lot of symmetry with everything except Elle. Her character seems to make a significant change over the course of the film. Initially, she relates to James the same way she related to her son in the cafe. But that changes.

#40 Nathan Douglas

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Posted 30 March 2011 - 02:03 PM

The camera waiting outside the church is such a bizarre moment. I like the way you track James' control issue in this film. On account of this, I couldn't help but think of the church scene in Eliade terms. She is crosses the threshold, but he simply has to wait for her to come back. Which is quite sad.


Any thoughts about the way Kiarostami lingers on the bread in his hand, when he's opening the door? This is the first film I've seen in a while in which so many individual shots have stayed with me, but none as much as that one. I can't remember if they actually consumed their bread, though.