Is it possible for a movie to be intoxicatingly pretty without quite attaining beauty? Mohsen Makhmalbaf's fantasy about the nomadic Ghashghai of southern Iran, who weave colorful carpets that tell stories, is a delightful treasure chest of colors, costumes, landscapes, magical-realist details, and very simple characters--all of whom tend to have the allure of trinkets and living legends. This romantic parable seems less personal than Makhmalbaf's more troubled urban dramas (The Peddler, Marriage of the Blessed, A Moment of Innocence), but it's also more accessible, and the magical moods keep one fairly spellbound. Hints of a lament about the sacrifices made by a young woman for her family and against her romantic nature (she longs to marry a mysterious stranger who rides after her tribe) are never supported with a clear take on the patriarchy that oppresses her, but the fairy-tale seductiveness piques one's imagination throughout. Music Box, Friday through Thursday, September 5 through 11. --Jonathan Rosenbaum
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.