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The Song of Sparrows 

Wednesday, Jun 10 2009
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The direct appeals of his melodramatic groundswells have long made Oscar-nominated Iranian director Majid Majidi a dismissed old-school counterpart to Abbas Kiarostami and Jafar Panahi. His latest film observes ostrich-wrangling father Karim (Reza Naji) struggling to remain the man of the house as he weathers a series of bad breaks. There’s an element of silent comedy not just in the mild humor or Karim’s tapir-nosed grimaces, but in the simple (not simplistic) sentiment of the scenarios: the pursuit of an escaped bird across barren hills, the businessman in cluttered Tehran who plops on his motorbike and instantly turns into a cabbie. Beleaguered Karim, fond but suspicious of his kids, shifts between overreacting and lugging stuff like a pack animal, as the city opens up new opportunities for profit and ethical quandaries. But his perspective begins to feel a bit confined in Naji’s hands, and it’s a shock when Karim busts out a ditty about the world being a lie and a dream, after his young son’s crew endures a setback to their get-rich-quick-through-goldfish scheme. The film is pleasingly meandering, till the more typically Majidian soulful and teary-eyed climax—for better or worse, nothing on the level of the once-blind professor’s operatic reckoning in previous release Weeping Willow.
June 12-18, 2009

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Nicolas Rapold

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