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desperateliving12 August 2003
Method acting is taken to the extreme in the case of this film's main character, Sabzian, a real-life person who impersonated a real-life filmmaker (Mohsen Makhmalbaf) he deeply admired, and who is taken to court by a family he has deceived -- and has his trial filmed by Abbas Kiarostami. Watching the film, I was aware that these events really did occur, and that the actors playing these characters were the real people involved (the opening credits clue us in, when they say, "appearing as themselves"), but I did not catch on that the courtroom scenes were real footage -- to be honest, I'm still not quite sure. (That IMDb lists the judge in the credits as "judge" and not as "himself," makes me suspect that this is indeed all a reenactment.) But whether or not the entire film is a reenactment or only the time-shifting parts with Sabzian and the family at their home are reenacted, the moment where Makhmalbaf appears onscreen is a transcendent one, as true in spirit as "real life" (which it may indeed be).

Kiarostami is a true artist, the ideal described by Sabzian in the film, one who makes his films to depict the suffering of people. He's one of the few with the power to seem wholly pure -- he makes me feel, at least in the moment, that film's real artists are the ones who aren't mere stylists. They're the ones interested in our hopes, our guilts, our ambitions, our fears. The ones interested in people. And here, Sabzian is trying to do something for other people; he's symbol of their love for the arts, by himself masquerading as a great artist. He's living vicariously through the artist he admires, and in doing so -- however morally ambiguously -- accentuating the most candid aspects of himself. By simply assuming another name, he can have people treat his views with respect, and in this way the film is a scathing attack on celebrity status and the priority with which we give them. However, Kiarostami doesn't let us be satisfied with Sabzian's candor; we're never sure where we stand with him, and the possibility is that his entire court appearance is another grand performance. (With the credits rolling over a frozen image of Sabzian's face, and his general persona of a troubled but deeply good-hearted person, I was reminded of an adult Antoine Doinel.)

Kiarostami and Sabzian admit that we're all actors in one way or another, from a director to you and me: "We are the slaves of a mask hiding our true face. If we free ourselves from this, the beauty of truth will be ours." This film and "Taste of Cherry" have got to me on such an intimate and personal level, and seem so honest and truthful -- sometimes in a seemingly banal way -- that I don't know how I can recommend them to others. While I think this is a masterpiece, if you expect to be blown away you'll be disappointed. But with artists this open, if you're willing to open yourself up, too, hopefully it can mean as much to you as it does to me. 10/10
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a unique and exceptional movie
fmoslehi25 July 2005
Not the usual Kiarostami movie, this is a half documentary, half reenactment by the actual people who were involved! That alone makes it a very unique movie.

While the story was unfolding, Kiarostami found out about it through a magazine article and as luck would have it, he was all geared up to make a movie (Pocket Money) but he decided to talk the executive producer into making this movie! It's shot in 40 days and all the events that happen after Kiarostami started to make the movie are a documentary, and all the events that had happened before are reenacted by the original people after the fact.

The movie works much better if one is familiar with Iranian cinema and particularly with Kiarostami and Makhmalbaaf (an equally famous, some would even say "the other" Iranian director who is not just the subject of this film but also appears in it as himself!) The documentary also gives a rare look inside the typical post revolution Iranian court system. Much of what people know about the Iranian judicial system has to do with high profile political cases which are very different than the overwhelming majority of cases that are about everyday legal problems that would typically not make the international news! In fact, when Kiarostami is trying to get the judge's permission to film the court room events, the judge tries to convince him to pick another trial, something more interesting!something having to do with a much bigger crime! Kiarostami has to explain to the judge that it is this particular case (having to do with Makhmalbaaf and cinema) that he's interested in! During the actual court proceedings, Kiarostami, with the judge's approving smiles, occasionally interjects and asks for more details and explanations! And some of the finest parts of the movie are the exchanges that take place during the trial between Kiarostami and the accused. When the accused mentions that he has finally realized that he is the "traveler" (a 1974 Kiarostami movie) Kiarostami is somewhat caught off guard! Many have suggested that the movie is a profound statement about the loss and the subsequent search for identity by an entire nation after a revolution. To his credit, in an interview recorded much later, Kiarostami claimed that although he agrees with that interpretation, he wasn't aware of it while he was making the movie! It is unusual for a director to pass up an interpretation like that as not having been part of his original vision! artistic integrity like that is truly a rarity, but then again, that's what makes Kiarostami the unique director that he is and why Kirosawa considered him the finest at his craft! In short, not your usual Kiarostami movie, yet for my money, an absolute treat. Here's a movie that engages the audience completely without a single car chase, without a single shot being fired, no aliens, no UFOs, no bad guys, no good guys, and it goes without saying that no one falls in love, let alone sex and cheating and the rest of what makes up 95% of the movies today! Yet, without using any of these standard tricks of the trade, Kiarostami keeps his audience glued to the screen from the first to the very last frame! At the end, I tend to agree with the great Kirosawa. Kiarostami has come pretty close to perfecting his craft!
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This is a courtroom drama unlike any you may have seen.
spazmodeus25 June 2003
I find it amazing that this movie works as well as it does. The people in it are not actors. They are ordinary Iranian citizens who happened to be involved in a curious incident that aroused the interest of a very talented film director. As an American who is aware of the tension between Iran's government and its vibrant film industry, you can't help but to scour this simple story for an ideological message. Is it a protest film? Is it an "all is well with Iran" film? Well, it's not either. It's just a simple and relatively mundane story told by the people who actually lived it.

What I got out of it, and your mileage may vary, is a deep sense that there is something beautiful about seeing a relatively small matter as an event of deep significance, one that requires all your attention. There is no larger story that gives meaning to the small events portrayed in the film, but the people in it, as well as the filmmakers themselves, imbue them all with a great seriousness. All of it is done without a hint of parody or ulterior motive.

And it's not like Iran didn't have "big" issues to confront in 1990, as it was rebuilding its society after the brutal war with Iraq. The cheap and obvious thing to do, which many foreign movies try, is to tell a simple story with a background of an emotionally charged historical time. It's quite beautiful to see this movie avoid that trap. It's not like you'll be moved to tears or something, but that's a part of the point! In a way, the film's ostensible lack of manipulativeness is so fresh to American eyes that you might find yourself moved on a much deeper level. Well, that, or you might be totally confused. After all, there is no background score to instruct you on how you should be feeling at each instant.
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Kiarostami Captivates
His Girl Friday28 April 2001
One day on a bus, an out of work father of two is mistaken for Mohsen Makhmalbaf, a famous Iranian filmmaker. He carries through with the ruse until he gets caught, and the family takes him to court, accusing him of fraud. The story is told through layers of flashback and shifting points of view. The look of the film is just as dynamic, using all sorts of film techniques - handheld, grainy 16 mm stock, the subtle use of shifting focus, and the all important close-up.

People tend to say that Abbas Kiarostami's style is a dead-crawl pace coupled with dry documentary images, but I've found his films to be wonderfully unravelling puzzles, full of frustrations and moments of perfect understanding. At times I think the key to Kiarostami's work is to simply earn it - the film may seem hard at first, you might be lost in the story, but don't give up! If you hang in there, you'll be rewarded with an unforgettable ending, like the one here in Close-up.
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Wonderful and humane
Marianthi_M8 October 2001
This is a wonderful film of a very special kind. Not your average movie in the sense that it is highly realistic and its subject somehow pedestrian. But the humanity with which it is shot and delivered is amazing: a world of humility, pride and grace is portrayed which at the present time could be much more than what we expect. It brings home the fact that whatever we might think of people and their ability to act as horribly as possible, there's always art and the art of the heart.
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An Iranian Cinematic Masterpiece
weston_luca_liggett8 March 2005
Nothing short of a masterpiece. Not for everyone's tastes. Discerning viewers tired of all the Hollywood tripe should definitely check out this low key but highly accomplished work about the amorphous quality of identity and the untrustworthy nature of celebrity. A film that will grow more and more important as the years go by.

The film's limited production values may turn off even the most discerning of viewers. Don't fear. It's just one of the many refreshing aspects about Kiarostami's "Close Up."

One of the best films of the nineties that people have never seen according to the stats here at IMDb.

Ten out of Ten.
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A Truly Remarkable, Unique & Most Natural Illustration Of Human Identity!
CinemaClown29 March 2016
Blurring the line between what's real & what's reconstructed from scratch, Close-Up is truly unique in what it pulls off over the course of its runtime and is an incredibly original, meditative & masterly constructed example of experimental filmmaking that offers an interesting glimpse into the psyche of a complicated man while showcasing the power of cinema itself.

Set in Iran, Close-Up covers the real-life trial of a cinephile who impersonated an acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and successfully conned a wealthy family in Tehran into believing that they would star in his new feature, that is until his luck ran out. The plot captures the ensuing trial that's filmed by the crew as it transpires in the courthouse while interspersed within those images are reenactments of the case.

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami, Close-Up marks my first stint with his works & what instantly caught my attention was the opening credits that showed every cast member to be playing themselves, an unusually surprising move. Kiarostami's direction deserves kudos for he manages to erase the line that differentiates reality from fiction by using same individuals who were involved in the real-life scene to reenact the earlier events.

What's also striking is that the reconstructed segments retain the raw, crude & untainted quality of recorded footage, while everything that unfolds in the courthouse is not a result of any rehearsed wordplay. Although the confession of the accused gives us a peek into his complex persona as well as his thought process, it also elegantly exposes the existing divide between the rich & the poor in Iranian society.

Throughout the trial, Kiarostami tries to get the perpetrator's side of the story on the camera and while there are times that make you wonder if he's still staging an act or is being honest, some of the things said by him do reflect a bitter truth about the society we live in, like when he talks about the love, respect & hospitality he received from the family when he pretended to be someone else, something he never would've experienced otherwise.

It's not that you can't differentiate between what's real & what's reenacted in Close-Up but the way its entire plot is executed, it makes you forget that deception & allows you experience it for what it is. Cinematography makes splendid use of the camera which is brilliantly utilised for long unbroken takes, hidden recordings, fixed smooth pans & fluid movements while Editing cleverly arranges the different segments into one consistently engaging narrative.

On an overall scale, Close-Up is an expertly crafted docufiction about human identity and captures it in its most natural form. Real-life can be just as full of drama & spices as any story brought to life on a film canvas and both forms inspire one another more often than usual. Although regarded by many to be one of modern cinema's greatest works, Close-Up didn't enthral me enough to join that particular crowd but I do admire its uniqueness, originality & honesty. Definitely recommended.
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The greatest film of our time
antcol89 June 2006
A Russian nesting doll, a mise en abime, a mediation on the intense need to create, a riff on the impossibility of true "documentary", a loving snipe at the more ethnic or folklorical of the two great Iranian directors. A film where a can rolling down the street functions as a beautifully observed, understated poetic trope. A film that examines the whole notion of "image". A film that shows us the richness and depth of a society which we so often reduce to a series of negative clichés. A film with humor and compassion for all of its characters, but that doesn't bang you over the head with it. A radical approach to narrative which reconciles both post - narrative and post - post - narrative approaches to cinema. A film that makes you think, without slathering on any kind of "message". A film that brings up issues pertinent to film itself: questions of representation,storytelling, form, truth,etc. A freaking masterpiece!
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This is a masterpiece, one of the most original films ever made
GregSinora3 February 2005
Close-up tells the true story of a man arrested for impersonating Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The film is a joy made up of mostly real footage of the trial and interviews with all involved, and also re-enactments of real events by the actual people involved. The film comes across as a portrait of a film-lover, as Hossain Sabzian defends his reasons for his impersonation in court with Kiarostami as the judge (literally) and the audience as jury, praying for a light sentence for Sabzian. Sabzian comes across as a screen legend, his innocence draws us to identify with him, a sweet man with a passion for films and family. Close-up literally bursts with originality, breaking the line between documentary and fiction with fantastic innovation, whilst still remaining light-hearted, humorous and easy viewing for anyone.
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Cinema so fresh, you can taste the difference
n101667919 May 2000
Truly the best, freshest, most truly independent cinema is coming from Iran - or at least was in the nineties. Time will tell. My favourite is "Salaam Cinema", a film I would love to see again. This film, from Iran's Goddard (I spose you'd call him) Abbas Kiarostami is in the docu-drama tradition. It uses the real people who took part in the real events portrayed in the movie, it uses a documentary style, but it is a film - not a documentary. I feel you could add, but is it not a documentary? Because at times, you just don't know. A truly great film because it really sucks you in, time passes, I have no idea how long it ran because it was over too soon. Magic!
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A little overrated, but certainly very good
zetes24 July 2002
Although probably not one of the greatest and most profound films ever made, as many have claimed, Abbas Kiarostami's Close-Up is certainly a notable achievement, a very interesting and often fascinating film. Either a pseudo- or semi-documentary, Kiarostami keeps everything very ambiguous. The "story" is a true one. Hossain Sabzian is unemployed, divorced, and a pathetic human being. He enjoys the cinema very much and, when the chance presents itself, he tells an aging woman, Mahrokh Ahankhah, that he is the famed director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. She and her family had recently enjoyed one of his films, and she invites him to dinner. At the Ahankhahs' home he continues his charade, and begins to lie about wanting to make a film starring the family, using their home as the setting. He searches through their house and the surrounding area and even borrows money from the youngest son. Their relationship continues, but soon they are tipped off to the fraud he is committing. They have him arrested and take him to court on fraud charges. Now a good portion of this narrative that I've described is not shown on screen. Close-Up begins with Sabzian's arrest as viewed from the outside. I don't know when else I can do it in this review, but I'd like to express my fondness for the two scenes where the camera watches an empty can of spray paint roll down the street. I'm not sure if it's supposed to represent something or not, but the camera captures it beautifully as it rolls over top of a couple of dried leaves, lifting them up and tossing them mere centimeters in the air.

Moving on, we watch Abbas Kiarostami ask Sabzian if he can document his trial on film. Of course, as a huge film lover, he agrees. Most of the film takes place at the trial, where Sabzian defends himself and the youngest member of the Ahankhah family prosecutes him. A judge presides. It is never really revealed whether the footage of the trial is real or a recreation. I read up on the film a little, and both circumstances are claimed by different reviews. Personally, I think it's all a recreation for a couple of different reasons (that I don't feel like going over; it's not really that important). A couple of times the film goes into flashback. We see Sabzian and Mrs. Ahankhah on the bus. We also see the arrest again, but this time from the inside. During the trial, Sabzian explains his reasons for impersonating Makhmalbaf, which are actually very touching. The film also has some subtle humor and it refrains from making fun of its subject. Questions are raised on the cult of identity and on the power of the cinema. They aren't really fully explored however. I think Kiarostami's biggest problem is his undying faith in his film's utter ambiguity. The idea is interesting and rather successful, but it shouldn't be taken as profundity. Other films have explored the documentary genre with as much or more success. Orson Welles' final film, F for Fake, is a lot more entertaining than Close-Up, although it has its flaws, as well. The best film like this that I've seen is Victor Erice's masterpiece Dream of Light (aka Quince Tree of the Sun), which was made a couple of years later. That film left me with more to think about, both in its themes and its playfulness with the documentary genre, than this one does. However, Close-Up, as I've said, is an achievement, not to be scoffed at. 8/10.
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Ready for your close-up, Mr. Sabzian?
Artimidor16 February 2013
Once upon a time in Tehran an unemployed, divorced, out-of-luck father of two is reading a book on his way home in the bus. Asked by the woman next to him about it, he boldly declares that he actually wrote it as well, a statement that leads to further questions, as this would make him Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the famous Iranian filmmaker... And so it all begins, the story of the impostor, Ali Sabzian, who is invited to said woman's home, suggests to make a film with her son in a prominent role in it, and what not. Well, it all ends with a trial against the impersonator, who - according to the members of this well-to-do family - must have been up to no good, planning to spy on them and eventually rob the house, or he was clearly mad and megalomaniac, but this idiosyncratic little fellow has his very own explanation...

The recounted events really happened. The film "Close-Up" re-enacts them as close to reality as possible and was made by Iran's most proficient director Abbas Kiarostami using not only Ali Sabzian in the lead, but also the family involved in their respective parts. With these given parameters it is clear that we're dealing with much more than a semi-documentary, as in the tradition of other works of the New Iranian Wave we become witness of a powerful blending of film and social reality, and in this case completely at the heart of the subject matter. The book at the source of the whole ruckus was Makhmalbaf's script of "The Cyclist", dealing with a man who like Sisyphus is forced to ride a bicycle continuously for a week to help out his sick wife. What others perceive as a crook sees himself as "the traveler", a reference to one of Kiarostami's very own films - and he has a dream, a very unique Iranian one. It's a film with multiple layers and magic that shines from within like no other. Don't expect technical brilliance, dazzling sights and sounds or overblown melodrama. This one is real. Groundbreakingly so.
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Curious movie
valadas12 August 2017
And a psychological one. This movie is only, so to speak, about a man, his mind and his conscience and this is well portrayed by his attitude and his reactions. His love of art and cinema led him to impersonate a famous film director and convincing of that a rich family to whom he said he would like to make a movie at their home and with them He ended up charged with fraud and his behaviour during trial was moving and very expressive. This story happened really and most of the performers were the real people that intervened on the real event which makes this movie half documentary half fictional. That simple story is so well directed and performed that keeps you interested and sensible through the whole film projection.
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Almost lives up to his reputation.
the red duchess8 November 2000
This is apparently the most important film of the 1990s. It did not move or astonish me as much as 'Sonatine', 'Chungking Express' or 'Le Temps Retrouve', but, then, I am a very superficial person. The film is acclaimed for its blurring of 'documentary' and 'fiction' (hasn't Godard been doing this for decades?), but for me the film's most remarkable, poignant, powerful scene, as Sabzian sits in vulnerable silence just before his arrest, is pure artifice, an artifice I may not have noticed, though, without the documentary framework.

Kiarostami is such an intellectual heavy weight that I'd been afraid to watch him - what is notable is how the abstract ideas grow from a very concrete engagement with people and place - the bottle rolling down the street is symbolic, but is also simply, beautifully observed. I won't give up my Kitano videos just yet, but, yeah, I can watch more of this.
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Only in Iran!
DevikaSethi22 February 2014
Only in Iran would a small time fraudster, otherwise unemployed salesman/printer's assistant quote Tolstoy (on art and life) at his trial.

Only in Iran would the mother of the family defrauded by this fraudster ask the police not to arrest him,but -- in keeping with her code of hospitality -- ask them to 'let him finish his lunch' first.

And perhaps only in Iran would a film director not only be allowed to film a trial in a courtroom, but also allowed to ask questions about of the fraudster, not only about his 'crime' of impersonating another famous director, but also about his views on art and life.

Just as the distinction between fiction and non fiction has become increasingly blurred,this film is one of many other Iranian films where the viewer is not sure what is 'real' or 'enacted', since the people involved in the original incident (the family, the fraudster and the journalist') are 'playing themselves'.

For me the most interesting part of the film was the testimony of the man on trial about the motivation for his impersonation. He testifies to the great power he held over this otherwise canny, educated family, who for some time at least he held in his power by virtue of his (assumed) identity. One doesn't know whether to applaud his honesty or to castigate him for his crime. This ambivalence towards individuals or regarding charged situations is a hallmark of new wave Iranian cinema, of which this film is an excellent representative.

'Close up' is an incredibly simple AND complex film. It can be read as a parable for post revolution Iranian society, or a realistic depiction of the problems faced both by the rich and poor (unemployment, for instance, affects the rich kids as well as the fraudster, making the former amenable to the schemes of the latter).

The resolution of the film is a beautiful depiction of the grace that comes with rising above retribution.
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A great film which has been hailed by all including directors like Tarantino,Scorcese,Werner Herzog and Bertrand Tavernier.
FilmCriticLalitRao5 August 2008
One close look at the history of cinema will tell that some of the great films have been made using everyday events as background.This is done in order to include a certain dose of creativity in scenario.This is also the case of Iranian film Nemaye Nazdik (Close Up) based on a famous incident of impersonation involving great Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf.If we believe that cinema is like magic and its actors and actress are like stars,we must also be ready to face the negative consequences of the so called star status of cinema's luminaries.There are many admirers who do not understand the detrimental consequences of their actions when they try to imitate what is fiction.Close Up talks of one such case involving a poor Iranian man named Ali Sabzian who deceives a lady by stating that he would like to shoot in her house as he is famous Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf.His deceit is exposed and he is imprisoned.All this might appear as a simple tale to layman but in reality "Close Up" is more complex than one can think.It is a film which challenges our notions of cinema and reality,truth or falsehood.As these concepts are subjective in nature,it is better if viewers are left to draw their own conclusions after having seen the film.One of the greatest scenes from "Close Up" shows Ali Sabzian (as he is sobbing uncontrollably) being comforted by great Mohsen Makhmalbaf.This is the most perfect example of how reality meets reality.
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haris-mumtaz23 May 2006
It's hard to imagine how the love of Cinema stimulates the world around you in such ways that sometime it's not easy to differentiate between reality and fiction. After watching "close up" I realize that I am not the only one who is willing to change his life on the basis of what I see on the screen. I always believe that cinema is influential and it can change you thoughts, your beliefs, and your life if you be able to perceive half of what the film is all about and what the director is trying to create. It's also great to see that I can influence any one … normal people like Ali Sabzian (the main character of this film). He is pretending to be a director and he wants to create a master piece but he didn't knew that while doing this he is effecting other people and their life. If you watched this movie without knowing that the story is based on real events, it wont inspires you that much but … the story was real. To some extant we all have a little bit of what Ali Sabzian had in himself but we are afraid of expressing it and he wasn't …. and that's why we don't except such people in our society. While watching this film, Tyler Durden of fight club was continuously bugging my mind. Edward Norton in that film was another character like Ali Sabzian who is pushing his inner self to such extant where its starts' affecting the lives of others around him. About the ending ....well one could only expect from Abbas Kiarostami for such kind of endings disregarded, deeply touched, and thought provoking. Once a saying that "it's every ones dreams to live every other's life, because you are not satisfied with what you are" and being a director is what Ali Sabzian chose. I am a big fan of Abbas Kiarostami, a director who speaks to his audience through his movies. Taste of cherry, pocket money and now close up; every times he is willing to make an impact through his films About close up i must say ... a must watched movie and truly inspiring
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Abbas Kiarostami, RIP
lee_eisenberg17 November 2016
Abbas Kiarostami died a few months ago, so I decided that I would watch this movie of his. "Nemā-ye nazdīk" ("Close-Up" in English) is based on the story of a man who pretended to be filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and the subsequent trial. The movie tests your attention span with its long scenes and emphasis on dialog.

I hadn't known of the story until I watched the movie. Kiarostami's movies often look at people striving towards goals (the only other one that I've seen is "Taste of Cherry"). But beyond the story, the movie functions as a look at this turning point in Iran's history. They had just come out of the eight-year-long war with Iraq - when the US, UK, Israel and USSR had armed Saddam Hussein against the revolutionary government - and Ayatollah Khomeini had just died. Iran remained a mostly isolated state for years afterwards until the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein allowed the Islamic Republic to have a stronger hand in the region.

Anyway, the movie is worth seeing. Both Kiarostami and Mokhmalbaf play themselves in it. Too bad that we won't see any more Kiarostami movies. This year took him, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell and Lupita Tovar. That and the ascendance to the US presidency of an unhinged demagogue make 2016 one crummy year.
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Really well-made human drama.
Amyth4710 February 2019
My Rating : 8/10

Very engaging once you become familiar with the characters and plot. This is a wonderful film of a very special kind. Not your average movie in the sense that it is highly realistic (documentary/fiction) and its subject matter is unique. The standout feature for me is the humanity with which it is shot and delivered : a world of humility, pride and grace is portrayed with a real human touch. It brings home the fact that whatever we might think of people and their ability to act as horribly as possible, there's perhaps always something very touching in the background to empathise with.

Unique, exceptional and touches your heart on some level.
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a must watch
abbassmaanna2 March 2015
This film is not for CGI fans , not to watch and forget but rather watch and keep haunted by its effect after its end.The end, which is the start instead. Close-up is such an amazing document-fiction movie.Fans of this kind of movies will drown in the intimate scenes, filled with the soul of humanity, love, honesty and lots, lots of heart talk. It talks about the passion of Sabzian for cinema in which he plagiarizes the character of a famous Iranian director, in order to make his living.

Such a deep, overwhelming movie that will stay a sweet memory to me from the sweetest friend I've ever met.
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Great movie from Iran's Kiarostami
Red-1254 February 2014
The Iranian film Nema-ye Nazdik was shown in the U.S. with the title Close-Up (1990). It was written and directed by Abbas Kiarostami, who also appears in the film.

Close-Up is an very unusual movie. It's based upon a real event--a man named Hossain Sabzian convinces a wealthy family that he is Mohsen Makhmalbaf, another Iranian filmmaker. Kiarostami recreates the original deception, using Sabzian and the family as actors in their own drama. Eventually, the film shifts into real time, at Sabzian's trial and after. Not only is Kiarostami permitted to film the trial, but he's permitted to take part in it! (As Kiarostami has said, "Things that are possible everywhere else are impossible in Iran. Things that are impossible everywhere else are possible in Iran.)

Kiarostami is a genius, and there are many examples of his incredible skill throughout the movie. Often, Kiarostami turns his camera on events that are at the periphery of the action, rather than at the center. For example, in the beginning of the movie, a journalist and two policemen travel by taxi to the home of the wealthy family. When they get there, there's all kinds of discussion about who should go inside, who should stay hidden, etc. Finally, all three men go into the house where, obviously, something important is going to happen.

Any other director would take his camera into the house to film the action. Not Kiarostami. We're left outside with the taxi driver. The family's gardener has swept cuttings and brush into a pile on the street. The taxi driver leaves his cab to pick through the cuttings in search of flowers. Along with the flowers, he finds an empty spray can. He sends it into the street where we watch it roll and bounce downhill.

Suddenly you realize, "There's action going on inside the house, and we're not seeing it." However, until that dawns on you, you've really become interested in whether the can will roll all the way down the street to the bottom, or whether it will be hung up on debris or at the curb. Kiarostami is saying to us, "Many things are happening simultaneously. This is the thing I've chose to show you. Isn't it interesting?"

The movie wouldn't work if Sabzian weren't such an unusual and fascinating character. Much is made in the movie about why he entered into this deception. He wasn't trying to steal from or cheat the family. He just wanted to fool them, which he did.

I think his motivation is obvious. Outside the walls of the family's home he's just a poor, inconsequential person who is barely managing to get by. Inside the walls he's a wealthy, prestigious director. Which would you rather be?

We saw the film on DVD, and it worked well. It's a fascinating movie. Seek it out and watch it!
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jason-m-cook13 September 2013
Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990) More people should see Kiarostami's work. This is a fascinating example of it, the second of his I've seen but I have more on my Netflix queue.

Close-Up is considerably more complex than it at first appears. Kiarostami makes a point of emphasizing the mundane. Those early scenes of small talk and casual conversation help to create a certain atmosphere that makes it all seem so real. Even later sequences which are re-enactments of earlier events do not appear to be artificial at all: I had to keep reminding myself that Kiarostami did not film the original meetings of Hossain Sabzian and the various family members. The irony of this is that Sabzian, while pretending to be the famed director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, claimed that he was going to put the Ahankahs in a movie... and as a result of this case, they did in fact wind up in a movie!

The film shows a great deal of compassion toward Sabzian, and to everyone else involved for that matter. It is incredible to think that after the trial was over, they all agreed to participate in the re-enactments of earlier events. I don't like to give a film a 10/10 until I've seen it at least a second time, so I won't here... but on a rewatch it could well reach that highest rating. 9/10
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Lingers with you for days.
Sergeant_Tibbs16 July 2013
The only other Kiarostami film I've seen is Taste Of Cherry which I found quite moving with its minimalist style but it didn't make a big impression. Close-Up is not only regarded as Kiarostami's best but also acclaimed enough to be ranked among timeless classics in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They's top 100. I was intrigued as to how his subtle style could make something that good. While I can't quite call Close-Up as good as certain classics, it definitely has some fascinating ideas that have lingered with me. It's a strange film where its power isn't in a punch and its impact sits with you at the same strength. But its power isn't concise images or thoughts but in its mystery. With perhaps more than half of the film re-enacted rather than documentary footage, it never elaborates which is which and leaves it to interpretation.

Some are obvious, such as the documentary trial scenes but some lie in the grey area where it's uncertain whether it's genuine or not. But with that question it reveals a larger question - is anything really genuine in front of the camera? What is real and what isn't real? One of the things it doesn't leave a mystery is the idea of the power of the director. It's really moving how its subject commits a crime to pretend to be a director just for the power, especially as I'd one day like to become a director. That aspect had a profound effect on me. But then it raises questions about Kiarostami's own role in the film when he's on screen and the power it displays. This is definitely a film that will sit with me for a long time before I make up my mind, especially as it asks more questions than gives answers.

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Reconciliation, Continuation Or A Final Swerve
kurosawakira19 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Some films are easy to talk about without spoiling much of what's happening. This isn't one of those. So even with the spoiler tag in place, I'll still drive you away here. Spoilers ensue!

This film, Imamura's "A Man Vanishes" (Ningen jôhatsu, 1967) and Welles' "F for Fake" (1973) are the pinnacle of a particular breed of film. I'm not completely satisfied with typifying them under the taxonomy of any particular genre, but let's say that these films all share the curiosity for truth and cinema. All of them are constructed in the documentary style, all of them pretend, and ultimately all of them question their very form.

Welles' film might be my personal favourite, but Kiarostami takes the ideas furthest. We have a real-life event, of which he creates a documentary. He then films the real-life trial but also recreates the events leading to that trial by using the very people involved. This might sound delicious enough an idea, but the real meat is in the fact that this wasn't just any crime, it was identity theft in which a real-life film buff impersonates as a real-life film director, leading the people involved believe he is using them for his new film.

Kiarostami's style of film-making invites us to believe in what we see, especially in the courtroom scenes, but even there Sabzian is called out for acting by the son of the family. The film invites us to frame it like that – reality (courtroom) versus dramatized reality (the past incidents), but for me the gravitational center of the film is not in the re-enactments but in the real-time performance given by Sabzian in the courtroom. These scenes constitute the major part of the film. He acts two roles: Makhmalbaf in the re-enactments and himself in the courtroom scenes.

In the end he is united with the real Makhmalbaf, a meeting that succinctly sums up what has been happening: you can see it as reconciliation if you like, you can see it as continuation or as a final swerve of the narrative as it flips around again to show the intentions of the film-maker. It all depends on how we perceive film in general, and whether we yearn for some form of truth and clarity, or whether cinema is all about raising questions about itself and the life it permeates without unambiguous resolve. As for my own film cosmology, I'm unsurprisingly leaning towards the latter.
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Just Great!!!
gokselcin1 July 2019
After years, I watched the movie again since I thought that I might be inadaquate to receive such an art work in the age of 20s. This is a great and great movie!!

-Grand Master Kiarostami puts actual recordings of the judge (which he shooted in fact, as well) into other fictional scenes.

-In fictional scenes, the real people of the story portray themselves.

So, truth and fiction mix each other within a totally true story. A man blamed to be swindler advocates himself with his factual words, not scenario (it was a legendary advocation, furthermore). Well, is this a documentary? Not, completely. The same man is actor in other fictional scenes and portrays himself (as every charactet in the movie) within his true story.

-Close up doesn't present us a visual aesthetic feast. But, close-up scenes in the movie, especially the ones focusing on Sabzien's face build a stunning reality sense and a striking emotional trip in the story.

Sabzien misleads a family introducing himself as Mohsen Makhbalmaf, a great director of Iranian movies. This is important. Five years later than Close-Up, Makhbalmaf, for his movie named "Hello Cinema" anounce an actor/actress selection. Most of shooted materials for the selection are used in the film by Makhmalbaf. The applicants doesn't know but, the movie is the movie of that selection. What a great and true inspiration is that Sabzien, the leading character of Close-up prefer to portray Makhmalbaf and Makhbalmaf follows this inspiration.

Close-up has a rarely seen cinematic magnificance!!!
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