Motlagh's latest short film Knock.Knock tells the story of events that happen in a day in the life of a comedian who is moving a little bit up in the world. The comedian (played by Chris Manz- MySpace), wakes up and goes to work, has a somewhat amusing encounter with an actress (Lene Penderson) and then has a more dramatic encounter with a former girlfriend (Keaton Shyler). In the end, Manz's character seems to have a new understanding about his past, the present situation, and quite possibly his future. Beyond that I can't say too much more about the characters or the events in the movie because, this being a 21 minute film with a very small plot, I would ruin your joy of discovery.
I like unusual characters or at least rarely seen in movies type characters, and I like watching artist/entertainer characters, and I like unpredictable/somewhat surreal/on the verge of falling apart comic situations. So, both the main character, who is a young comic with an internet show, and the first encounter worked well for me.
The second encounter, which starts about 5 minutes into the movie and makes up the greater part of the movie, depicts a light romantic drama situation. This segment of the movie is also concerned with creative jealousy, career achievement competitiveness between romantic partners and selective memory. Unless there is a lot of humor intertwined with the drama, I am not a big fan of romantic drama, so the second encounter in this movie did not work as well as the first one for me.
I liked the beautiful cinematography in this movie. I was a little bit saddened to discover that the film was shot on Super 16 film (a type of motion picture film related to 16 MM film, but offering more image space - If I recall notes from my film school days correctly) and not a digital medium, because I was hoping that digital cinematography had progressed to the level of excellence, the richness & the velvety feel of the image, seen in Knock.Knock.
Generally the acting in the movie is good, although there were two crucial instances in the second half of the movie where I felt that the actors could have made better choices.
Knock.Knock is, for me, definitely more art than entertainment because, like the best of Motlagh's films, it pulled me deeper into real life, made me reflect on events similar to the ones depicted in the movie, and over a day after watching the movie for the first time, I am still thinking about some of the ideas and memories that the movie pointed to. For me objects of art are doors to other things; things related to real life. Things that I label entertainment are things that provide an escape from real life; a temporary, total escape. Some of my favorite art, like the two films by Motlagh mentioned in the first paragraph, provide both an avenue for deeper engagement with life and a little bit of a welcome break, a little bit of escapism, from life at the same time. Although Knock.Knock was not as enjoyable as Still Lover or My Break Ups, I am glad I saw it and will most likely watch it again a few more times in the near future (I've already seen it three times, film gets better with each viewing, also is better on a larger screen). It is entirely possible that the film works very well for audience members who enjoy watching romantic drama related situations; I would like to hear some reactions from such people when they've seen the movie. Knock.Knock is definitely recommended, worth watching.
The film should become available to view through film festivals, other screenings, or on DVD directly from the filmmaker or other distributors in the coming months. Visit Motlagh's blog for additional information and updates.