Manhattan by Numbers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Manhattan by Numbers

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The surprising thing about the first English-language feature (1993) of Iranian filmmaker Amir Naderi (The Runner, Water, Wind, Sand) is that it has nothing at all to do with Iran or Iranians. Rather, it tells the story of a laid-off American newspaperman (John Wojda), separated from his wife and child and at the end of his economic resources, traveling across New York City in an effort to find enough money by the end of the day to keep himself from becoming homeless. It's a realistic, keenly felt, and richly detailed movie about American urban life in the mid-90s, but what's most striking about it is its power as poetry, as it delineates a landscape and the precise contours of a state of mind. This is a potent example of what Hollywood, which can't seem to make movies about the world we're living in, is studiously avoiding. The beautiful, original jazz score is by Gato Barbieri, the Brazilian musician best known for his score for Last Tango in Paris. Music Box, Saturday and Sunday, July 15 and 16.

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