403) This Is Not a Film (2010) Dir: Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb Not Yet Released Date Seen: October 4, 2011 Rating: 3.75/5
Typically, setting out to create a narrative about your own creative frustration means you're shooting to make a moving and/or thoughtful but also necessarily alienating narrative. This documentary's potency is largely reliant on how frequently Jafar Panahi is able to successfully dramatize his personal isolation and represent ideas and fleeting notions that are unique to him. At the same time, I'm more interested in This is Not a Film's figurative representation of Panahi's ennui as a sweeping expression of his pent-up artistic ambitions and his stymied need to create. These are more moving than the moments that show Panahi as an individual martyr (ie: interludes where we accompany Panahi as he waits for his lawyer to call and shuffes about his apartment). These latter intervals are necessarily frustrating but a vital part of the film's story. That doesn't make waiting for Panahi and Mairtahmasb to show us something more poetic than static that much more compelling. Still, it is worth noting that yes, this very exciting experiment is also frustrating by design.
Note: I love and can't help but hope that Panahi or Mirtahmasb decided to arrange Panahi's DVD shelf in such a way that Buried, the Ryan Reynolds horror pic, was purposefully put on the edge, right where the camera and hence the viewer could not help but see it.