High Museum of Art: Films

The Song of Sparrows by hmablogmaster
November 5, 2009, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Film Series: High, Guest Blogger, Review

The Song of Sparrows will open this year’s Iranian Film Today series on Friday, November 6 at 8 p.m. in the Rich Theater. Learn more about this series at High.org/Films. Review by Eleanor Ringel Cater.

The Song of Sparrows

My friend Forrest Rogers used to have a name for certain kinds of movies. He called them, “Pigs and Mud” movies.

You know, the ones with subtitles, that, even when they earn raves, sound about as appetizing as a bowl of cooked carrots (It’s GOOD for you, the reviewer seems to be pleading).

So, when I read that The Song of  Sparrows concerned the plight of an Iranian ostrich wrangler… well, you can just imagine. Ah, Pigs and Mud AND Ostriches!

But sometimes the carrots are sugar-coated. At least, that’s the case here. The Song of Sparrows isn’t just good for you; it’s just plain good in its own low-key, meandering way. I’d planned to turn it off after 15 minutes and found myself watching to the very end.

Hard-working Karim (Reza Naji) loses his job at the ostrich ranch after losing one of his birds (the ensuing Follow That Bird chase is as hilarious as it is poetic). His daughter has just lost her hearing aid, so it’s off to the big city to find a new job.

Karim finds one, inadvertently, when a busy businessman jumps on the back of his motorbike and barks out an address. And, voila (or however they say it in Iran), Karim has a new job as taxi of sorts. Contrasting Karim’s adventures in Tehran with his often tumultuous family life, Oscar-nominated Iranian director Majid Majidi creates an involving human story that sometimes comes off like a silent comedy.

No, it’s not a heavy-hitting cross-over foreign-language hit like last year’s Oscar-winner, Slumdog Millionaire, but the two movies have more in common that you might think.

Eleanor Ringel Cater

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