The Keeper: The Legend of Omar Khayyam
Directed by Kayvan Mashayekh
Arrival, in release, Landmark Sunshine
Set in present-day Houston, this plodding and pretentious historical drama interpolates the titular legend of Rubaiyat author and mathematician Omar Khayyam for a story-within-a-story effect that merely illuminates how banal both plotlines are. The more interesting narrative thread takes place in 11th-century Persia with a young Omar and his friend Hassan competing for the affection of sweet-little-slave-girl Darya. Forbidden love, of course, has terrible consequenceswhich can often be seen coming for miles across the windswept Persian desert. The comically hammed-up period performances do little to enhance the attempted atmospheric vibe; pauses are pregnant with vast mystic possibilities, but of what? The preambulary titles warn of the erosion of oral traditions ("keeper" refers to the bearer of an oral history) and perhaps this movie is best viewed as an example of how insipid and forgettable cultural production has become in the shadow of the spoken word.