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LA Film Fest Review: Half Moon

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There are some films, particularly foreign films--no, particularly foreign foreign films--where you have to throw your critic's hat out the window and just try to keep up. That's how I felt watching Half Moon. I'm fairly certain that there were many Iranian jokes and Persian allusions that I just didn't get. (How do I know that? Well, there was an Iranian guy sitting next to me in the theater who obviously did.) Still, I enjoyed the movie. I liken the experience to someone walking through a museum for the first time. You may not be able to explain or even completely understand everything you're seeing, but it is beautiful.

Half Moon tells the story of Mamo, an elderly and legendary Kurdish composer who is trying to get back to Kurdistan to perform one last concert in his homeland. He enlists the aid of his many (I repeat, many) sons to drive through Iran and into war-torn Iraq. Being that this is essentially a road movie, trouble besets them on all sides throughout their journey. However, since this is an Iranian road movie the nature of those troubles is uniquely strange. For instance, they liberate a woman from a guarded city where 1334 women have been imprisoned for the sin of singing. There's also an extended cock-fighting sequence that can only be described as...well, benign. And did I mention the singing girl who can wake the dead (but only temporarily? Or was it a dream? And is she his daughter? Or his murderer?)

Honestly, I don't even know how to review this film. If it wasn't already confusing enough there's a heavy dose of death-oriented surrealism mixed into the narrative that makes it even more opaque. Director Bahman Ghobadi says the film was heavily influenced by Mozart's Requiem, but even though I'm deeply familiar with that work I was never able to make more than a tenuous connection. Oh well. I guess the final verdict on any movie is, "Should I see it?" If you're a filmgoer who enjoys being challenged, even confused, by a film then Half Moon is one for you.

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Photo courtesy of mijfilms