The Masters: Movieline Critic Alison Willmore's Top 10 Films of 2012
A couple, played by Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg, go on a hike in the mountains of Georgia with a local guide. Halfway through, they have a brief brush with danger that messes with their relationship and their heads. Julia Loktev's film is minimalist in its cast and dialog, but no film this year feels as rich and nuanced in its depictions of the subtle ways in which people's actions broadcast their emotions.
Like The Cabin in the Woods and Holy Motors, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Jafar Panahis' semi-documentary is about filmmaking, but it cuts deeper still, because it's about being silenced. Panahi, awaiting to appeal a six-year prison sentence and 20-year ban on filmmaking, wanders his Tehran flat, talking on the phone and outlining for the visiting Mirtahmasb the feature he would have made next: a film about a girl who, fittingly, has been locked in her house by her disapproving conservative family. This is Not a Film begins as a self-referential exercise about how describing a film is a miserable substitute for making one, but, as it progresses, it becomes the story of Panahi himself, shut away from the world. If this is not a film, there's no denying that it's something great — the personal and the political tied up in one, partially shot on a iPhone, all within the confines of a Tehran apartment building.
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