Cinema: Tehran Master

Iran's top director spins a taut, profound fable

Fellow goes to a doctor and says, "Everything's wrong with me, but I don't know what disease I have. I touch my head, and it hurts. I touch my chest, and it hurts. I touch my leg, and it hurts. What's the problem?" The doctor examines him and says, "Your finger's broken."

This joke, told in Abbas Kiarostami's luminous Taste of Cherry, hints at the spirit of Iran's vital new cinema: knowing, poignant, as simple and universally significant as an Aesop fable. Kiarostami, who is Iran's leading director (Through the Olive Trees) and screenwriter (The White Balloon), tells his tales with...

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