Friday, December 18, 2015
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Miguel Gomes’s sui generis epic concludes with arguably its most eccentric—and most enthralling—installment. Scheherazade escapes the king for an interlude of freedom in Old Baghdad, envisioned here as a sunny Mediterranean archipelago complete with hippies and break-dancers. After her eventual return to her palatial confines comes the most lovingly protracted of all the stories in Arabian Nights, a documentary chronicle of Lisbon-area bird trappers preparing their prized finches for birdsong competitions. Right to the end, Gomes’s film balances the leisurely art of the tall tale with a sense of deadline urgency—a reminder that for Scheherazade, and perhaps for us all, stories can be a matter of life and death. An NYFF53 selection. A Kino Lorber release.