This lauded slice-of-life movie stars exiled Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi as he poses as a taxi driver in Tehran, in this series of portraits of everyday characters hiring his driving services. Panahi drives a yellow cab through the vibrant streets of Tehran, picking up a diverse—and yet representative—group of passengers in a single day. Each man, woman, and child candidly expresses his or her own view of the world, while being interviewed by the curious and gracious driver/director. His camera, placed on the dashboard of his mobile film studio, captures a spirited slice of Iranian society while also brilliantly redefining the borders of comedy, drama and cinema.
“The Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who is under house arrest and has been banned from filmmaking since 2010 on the grounds of political dissent, starts Taxi, his clandestinely produced film, with a long take of the streets of Tehran, seen through the windshield of a car,” writes Richard Brody of The New Yorker. “It’s a shot that exudes love of the long-unseen face of the city and joy in merely being outdoors—and in moviemaking itself. Panahi is driving the car, pretending to be a cab driver, encountering strangers, acquaintances, and even a relative—and filming the encounters with a dashboard-mounted camera that he passes off as a security device.”
“Oppression has transformed Panahi’s art,” Brody continues. “Under the pressure of circumstances, he has turned from a classicist into a modernist, while at the same time transforming the very codes and tones of his frame-breaking aesthetic. He puts his face, his body, his voice, his own life into his film as an existential act of self-assertion against his effacement by the regime. Panahi turns the kind of reflexive cinema that, in the United States, would risk critical dismissal as narcissistic into a furious act of political defiance.”
Director: Jafar Panahi | Iran | 2015 | 82 minutes | Farsi with English subtitles
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