Majid Majidi, the director who has made a series of internationally released masterpieces (Baran, The Color of Paradise and Children of Heaven) has now released one more: The Song of Sparrows.
My daughter and I got to watch this movie in a Tehran cinema in January (2009), and I'm delighted to see that the movie has made it to the U.S. so quickly after its screening in Iran.
Its US screening started in Manhattan yesterday (April 3, 2009, coincidentally with Persian New Year's sizdah-bedar tradition).
You can read the reviews in The New York Times and in The Wall Street Journal. The latter review includes an interview with Majidi and some deeper analysis of his works.
There's something strangely attractive about Majidi's work—his handling of simple and universal human emotions, the likes of which one rarely sees in movies made by major houses. If you watch The Song of Sparrows and have some liking for it, you should also explore his other works, each of which study a different dimension of the human emotional core in a completely different setting.
Here, I'm searching for a proper description but I cannot find it. A story can hardly be summarized. It can, in fact, only be told, and each of Majidi's stories are wildly different which help make his works completely fresh and always unexpected. It is also amazing that in many of them Reza Naji has a leading role, and he remains equally perfect for all of these roles. Is it his acting skill? Is it the core, simple character that he has built which keeps seeping through the various stories? In one of Majidi's movies, Baran, Naji plays a minor role but as Majidi's viewer you will keep wondering whether you're dealing with the same man in all these movies where Naji appears. In a sense, Naji has tied the movies together through his acting and simple character play.
In closing, note that Hossein Alizadeh, one of the living masters of classical Persian music, has composed the music for Sparrows. (I purchased the CD in Tehran's Home for the Arts in January but I've not had a chance to listen to it in full yet to see whether it includes any tracks beyond what we hear in the movie. I would not be surprised if it does.)