Review | "Jafar Panahi's Taxi"/"The Pearl Button"
Panahi is a master craftsman who continues to make bricks without straw, turning his punishment into some of the most essential cinema of the decade. Each film he makes is not only a thumb in the eye of tyranny, but a testament to the spirit of human creativity, and the overwhelming desire to create art even when one is barred from doing so. It's joyous, warm, funny, and moving in equal turns, finding humanity in each of his passengers and their own particular missions and world views. As one of Panahi's passengers tells him as she lays a flower by the camera - "This is for the people of cinema, because the people of cinema can always be relied on." Yes they can, and Panahi is a living testament to the fact that tyrants can muzzle a man, but they can never silence art.
Yet through Guzmán's unique lens, the history of the natives becomes a kind of ethereal reflection of the universe, irrevocably changed by colonialism and western invasion, moving through the glistening waters of the Chilean coastline like ghosts. Guzmán's placing of the natives' struggles in cosmic perspective makes the film an interesting companion piece for his previous film, Nostalgia for the Light. While the metaphor gets lost in its grandiosity at times, The Pearl Button is nevertheless a deeply moving experience, that tells a story as timeless as the sea itself.
JAFAR PANAHI'S TAXI - ★★★★ (out of four)
THE PEARL BUTTON - ★★★½ (out of four)