Inspired by Dave Hicks’ excellent blog, I have decided to write about my favorite film for each year from 1926-2008.
1987: Where is the Friend’s Home? (Abbas Kiarostami)
I’ll never forget the first time I saw one of Abbas Kiarostami’s films. I was living in Caen, France, and Through the Olive Trees was playing at the local arthouse. I use the term “local” loosely, as I didn’t have a car that year and sometimes the buses would go on strike, taking away my option of public transportation, too. But I was determined to see the film, so I decided to walk. It was least an hour each way, and I can remember questioning my decision a number of times while in transit. After seeing the final shot of the film, though, I left the theater and began my walk back home in absolute movie nirvana.
Kiarostami is up there in a small group of my favorite moviemakers. More than anything, what I love about his work is the way he combines cinematic rigor with deep humanity. His style is simple, disciplined, restrained and—to throw in a culinary descriptive—clean. Meanwhile, the emotional core of his work is deep, honest, probing and insightful.
Where is the Friend’s Home? takes something so simple—a little boy unable to find his friend’s house—and turns it into one of the most dramatic experiences imaginable. Like all films by Kiarostami, this one is quiet, fairly slow, visually beautiful and almost earthy in its naturalism.
I love all of Kiarostami’s films from this period and look forward to catching up on some of his earlier and later work. But, judging by what I’ve already seen, he’s one of the greatest of all moviemakers in my eyes.
What moviemakers can learn: As with last week’s entry, the theme of this film—”young boy in danger”—is commercial at its core. If financial success is important to you as a moviemaker, think about those themes that have historically been successful.
Other contenders for 1987: I still have some films to see from this year. These include: Maurice Pialat’s Under the Sun of Satan, Eric Rohmer’s Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle, Stephen Frears’ Sammy and Rosie Get Laid and Nanni Moretti’s The Mass is Ended. From this year, I really like Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables, Woody Allen’s Radio Days and the Coen brothers’ Raising Arizona. I love Stephen Frears’ Prick Up Your Ears. And my closest runner-up is John Huston’s The Dead.
After living in Los Angeles for seven years, Jeffrey Goodman returned to his hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana to direct The Last Lullaby. Co-written by the creator of Road to Perdition, and starring Tom Sizemore and Sasha Alexander, The Last Lullaby was filmed entirely in and around Shreveport and financed by 48 local investors. Goodman is now at work raising money for his next feature, Peril.