Assayas seems to have conceived this film as several genre pieces in one (a pseudo horror, a psychological thriller, a melancholy drama about grief), but each of these strands, incomplete in its way, serves a grander and fully realized purpose in the larger ontological excavation of Maureen.
In real classrooms and on real film shoots, there remains an inevitable tension between the roles that certain figures who exercise authority must play and the principles and aspirations that guide some of our most progressive teachers and moviemakers.
For Mungiu, there are political and dramatic implications to the way that people and bodies occupy and interact within a frame, the way that the camera moves to depict action and reveal setting, and the way onscreen and off-screen space are established.
American Sniper’s defenders have basically staked out ground as formalists, while its detractors have made both weak and strong claims about the “responsibility” filmmakers have to a certain amount of ethical rigor and political engagement when making a film about an actual military conflict.
The Age of Innocence is as brutal a film as anything in Scorsese’s filmography—and it is also just as kinetic. His camera is constantly in motion, insinuating itself between characters, panning, tilting, and tracking from faces to walls to plates of food to silverware to fine china.
Both a companion piece to This Is Not a Film and a cinematic break from it, Closed Curtain at first seems to mark a return to “fiction” filmmaking for Panahi—to whatever extent categories like “fiction” and “nonfiction” even apply to his cinematic practice—and so it also invites a certain recalibration.