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Jafar Panahi’s Taxi 

Wednesday, Oct 28 2015
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There are the empty provocations of Sebastián Silva's Nasty Baby, but for the real thing, look no further than the brave and hilarious Jafar Panahi's Taxi. Panahi's third stealth film since the Islamic Revolutionary Court banned him from making movies in 2010, it's as big a fuck you to the Iranian regime as Citizenfour was to the American government. Panahi drives a cab with two dash-mounted cameras through the streets of Tehran, picking up a myriad of characters who comment on various aspects of modern Iranian life, including a peddler of bootleg videos who wants to use Panahi's notoriety to sell more movies, and, most charmingly, Panahi's young niece Hana. Hana, shooting her own movie for school, is stymied by the edicts to make a "distributable film," including a ban on "sordid realism." This of course relates to Panahi's own struggles — Hana accepted an award in Berlin on Panahi's behalf this past February, because he isn't allowed to leave Iran — and the whole film could just be the interplay between the two of them. (Heck, half of it could be their staring contest, which doesn't go on nearly long enough.) Kvetch if you must about how everyone's recording everything all the time now, but in Jafar Panahi's Taxi, that technology becomes a new definition of freedom.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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