March 4, 2008

Half Moon

half moon

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of 5): ****

If you're already a fan of the work of Kurdish Iranian writer/director Bahman Ghobadi (Marooned in Iraq, Turtles Can Fly, A Time for Drunken Horses), you won't need much of a push to place his new film Half Moon in your queue. If Ghobadi is new to you, Half Moon is a good place to begin your appreciation, for it's his most disciplined and productive movie yet. Ghobadi's a filmmaker so marvelously attuned to visuals and music that you'd best prepare to have your eyes and ears quietly ravished.

Are there landscapes bleaker and more beautiful than those shown by this director? Doubtful. His characters, too, boast a similar combination. Here, they comprise a father, his many sons, a few friends and two women, both of whom sing the native music with fervor and finesse. The film is a journey of these Kurds from Iran toward a newly opened Iraq, where they hope to give a concert of their music for the first time in a long while. Though much of the trip is painful, it's leavened with offhand bits of humor that percolate at some of the most unlikely moments.

Along the way, as always with Ghobadi, we see some strange and lovely sights, starting out with a cockfight set to music--certainly like no cockfight scene you’ve ever seen. In the midst of an environment this primitive, cell phones, computers and email make an odd but appealing juxtaposition. Music is vital in all this unusual filmmaker's work; here it seems even more so--almost a religion in itself. Fate plays a part in the tale but so does perseverance. The need for the latter, in fact, seems to me to be Ghobadi's major point.

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Posted by cphillips at March 4, 2008 10:11 AM
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