Djomeh. Hassan Yektapanah. In his first feature (for which he shared the prestigious Camera d'Or at Cannes in 2000), Iranian writer/director/editor Yektapanah shows a mature understanding of romantic yearning and the patience to capture its rhythm through long silences. Near a small mountain village in northern Iran, 20-year-old Djomeh works for fellow Afghan émigré Habib, collecting and selling cows' and goats' milk with the assistance of local businessman Mahmoud. Enamored of Setareh, a young Iranian woman who tends her father's grocery store, Djomeh obsesses over his dreams of marriage and companionship despite a clash with local customs and prejudice. Through stationary camera setups, long takes and natural lighting, the story unfolds quietly with a refreshing emphasis on an emotionally complex trio of characters rather than action. Complementary minimalism in style and in content makes Djomeh a thoughtful, uniquely absorbing film. In Farsi with English subtitles. Plays at 7 p.m. Jan. 11-13 at Webster University. (DC)
Dolphins. Greg MacGillivray. The film crew journeys to places such as the Bahamas to engange various species of wild dolphin and observe their powerful bodies pumping through sapphire-blue waters and leaping high into the air. We meet a researcher who swims amid the superintelligent mammals with a microphone, recording sounds; a naturalist who has befriended a dolphin that, for reasons unknown, prefers man to its own kind; and a group laboring to heal a pair of sick dolphins at Sea World. The shots of tropical beaches and the gentle score make for an experience mellow enough to induce a deep sleep in the theater. These MacGillivray/Freeman films often seem to unfold with such slowly paced, careful explanations that a 6-year-old could follow them without having to ask Mommy what's going on -- for adult s, it may feel like a National Geographic documentary for simpletons, a kind of "Science Lite." The Imax experience is all about the visuals, anyway. Pierce Brosnan narrates. Now playing at the Omnimax. -- Byron Kerman
Gosford Park. Robert Altman. Opens Jan. 11 at the Tivoli and the Plaza Frontenac. Reviewed this issue.
Orange County. Jake Kasdan. Brainiac high schooler Shaun Brumder (Colin Hanks) is on the fast track to Stanford; he's got the grades and the demeanor to glide right in. But when his bumbling guidance counselor (Lily Tomlin) accidentally sends transcripts for the school's worst student, Lance Brumder (Jack Black), problems and, no doubt, hilarious antics ensue. Also starring Chevy Chase, Catherine O'Hara, Harold Ramis and John Lithgow. Opens Jan. 11 at multiple locations. NR