A film about a former judge who's just trying to have a decent party for his daughter, Laila's Birthdayhas its local premiere tonightat 7 at the Cleveland Museum of Art as part of the Museum's "Friday Night First-Runs" series. It also screens at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. Here's our review.
(Palestine/Tunisia/Netherlands, 2008) Former judge turned persnickety cab driver Abu (Mohammed Bakri) has a very bad day in Palestinian writer-director Rashid Masharawi’s slice-of-life fable set in present-day Ramallah. On the day of his young daughter’s birthday party, the Job-like Abu is forced to endure one indignity after another: Kafkaesque delays in the Ministry of Justice office; obstinate passengers; random terrorist attacks more inconvenient than truly frightening. Even the simplest errands like buying his daughter’s birthday gift and picking up her cake at a local bakery become Sisyphian tasks. Similar in bemused tone and neo-realist style to many works of the New Iranian Cinema, Masharawi’s film might have worked better as a short, since there’s barely enough drama to sustain a feature-length running time. It doesn’t help that humorless prig Abu makes a fairly unsympathetic lead character who’s impossible to warm up to. C At 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 28, and 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30. ** (Milan Paurich)