Dashboard Confessional

By Klawans, Stuart | The Nation, March 24, 2003 | Go to article overview

Dashboard Confessional


Klawans, Stuart, The Nation


10 * Under the Skin of the City

A few years ago, when moviegoers in this country were just beginning to learn about Abbas Kiarostami, I heard a crowd of New Yorkers berate him for having put a snatch of Vivaldi onto a soundtrack. These audience members had paid for an Iranian experience, and they damn well wanted the music to go with with it. Kiarostami, puzzled by their complaint, blinked impatiently behind his tinted glasses. "But Vivaldi's music," he finally said, "is like the sun. It belongs to everybody."

In the conviction that Kiarostami, too, belongs to everyone, I will introduce his most recent film, 10, by recalling a bit of New York City lore.

One night in 1950, the story goes, a hanger-on came into the Cedar Tavern and sat down at the bar beside Franz Kline. "I have just seen the worst show ever," the man announced happily. "Barnett Newman, at Betty Parsons. Nothing's there--nothing at all!"

"The gallery's empty?" Kline asked.

"There's one painting, and it's nothing."

"How about that?" Kline mused. "Barney's showing just one painting."

"I mean, there's a bunch of paintings, but they're all the same. Just one color."

"All the paintings are the same color?"

"No, this one is red, that one is blue, the other----"

"Ah," Kline said. "Solid colors."

"Yes, except for this ridiculous stripe."

"A stripe, too? What kind of stripe?"

"Just the same damn stripe everywhere. In the middle, over to one side, over to the other."

"So it moves, this stripe. Just one to a painting."

"One, two. Who cares? All Newman did was make stripes, straight up and down."

"Same height every time, I guess."

"Well, no. They run top to bottom, and the paintings are different sizes."

Kline sipped his beer. "Different sizes, different colors, different places where the stripes run? I dunno," he said.

"Sounds pretty complicated to me."

Which is to say that Kiarostami's 10 is nothing--absolutely nothing, except for scenes of an unnamed woman (played by Mania Akbari) driving around Teheran in a car. She makes ten trips in the course of the film, each time conversing with a single passenger. Sometimes the camera is fixed on her, sometimes on the passenger; and sometimes Kiarostami cuts back and forth between the two. The episodes vary in length; the routes take the car speeding along highways or nosing through congested streets; the time shifts between day and night. Some of the passengers ride only once; others show up in multiple episodes. Costumes change. Lines of dialogue echo between one segment and another. It's pretty complicated.

And like a Barnett Newman canvas, it's also supersaturated with meaning. Consider the first episode, which introduces the driver's son: a round-faced, jug-eared boy on the verge of puberty, with bowl-cut hair, a Western logo T-shirt and the last traces of a childhood lisp. No sooner has he pitched himself into the passenger seat than he and his mother are yelling. He hates her for having divorced and remarried; he hates his stepfather; he hates the lie his mother told, when she said his father was a drug addict.

But she had to lie, the mother screams back. It was the only way to get a divorce. "A woman has no rights in this society! I was like a zombie!"

And so, using the most rudimentary of techniques to record a seemingly unscripted exchange, Kiarostami announces the theme of 10, at the highest decibel level. This woman demands her freedom and will go on demanding it, even if the effort makes her sound harsh, even if (as often happens in unscripted exchanges) the effect is not entirely happy.

The boy keeps covering his ears, twisting in his seat and nearly whimpering as he cries, "Don't shout!" And because he's just a boy, because he still lisps, because the camera for the first dozen minutes shows only him, his plea temporarily outweighs her self-justification.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dashboard Confessional
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.