Monday, 30 December 2013

The Fall of the Roman Empire

The Fall of the Roman Empire; drama, USA, 1964; D: Anthony Mann, S: Stephen Boyd, Christopher Plummer, Sophia Loren, James Mason, Alec Guinness, Mel Ferrer, Omar Sharif

The Roman Empire, 180 AD. The Emperor Marcus Aurelius has spent 17 years fighting against the invading Germanic tribes along the Danube frontier. He wants to make peace and promises all the nations in the Empire the opportunity to gain citizenship, but does not want that his son Commodus succeed him, but General Livius. Commodus poisons Aurelius and thus automatically inherits the position of the Emperor. Commodus' sister Lucilla falls in love with Livius. Commodus' egoistic and megalomaniac behavior triggers a rebellion in the east, led by Lucilla. Livius is sent to crush the rebellion, but joins it instead. He has a duel in which he kills Commodus in Rome, but leaves the city while the unstable fight for power continues.

Even though it was such a commercial failure that it signalled a slow end of the expensive Hollywood monumental genre, "The Fall of the Roman Empire" is actually quite a well made and different sprout of the epic films revolving around the Roman Empire, avoiding overemphasis on Christianity and covering a rarely talked about time period in which the Germanic tribes on the northern border and the turmoil of the government signalled the beginning of the end of the Empire three hundred years later, in 476 AD. A somber, sharp and untypical edition of the genre (the Roman fortress covered by snow), though still slightly overlong and "dry" here and there, with a finale that absolutely abandons any criteria for historical accuracy. Sophia Loren is probably the strongest among the cast as Lucille, but Stephen Boyd is refreshingly natural and convincing as well as Livius: a few sly touches are welcomed, such as the sequence where Livius and Commodus are having a contest in drinking vine - Livius is blond and wears golden clothes, to signal that he is the good guy, whereas Commodus has black hair and wears black clothes, to signal that he is the bad guy. It would have been better if the film followed the history records more closely, instead of trying to appeal to the action and spectacle hungry audience, yet it offers enough surprisingly intelligent features to justify its resistence to get forgotten by time.

Grade;++

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears

Moskva slezam ne verit; romantic tragicomedy, Russia, 1980; D: Vladimir Menshov, S: Vera Alentova, Irina Muryanova, Aleksey Balatov

Moscow, '58. Katerina, Lyudmila and Antonina are three young girls who moved to the capital from the province. They share an apartment and try to set foot in the city, while Katerina tries to enlist in a university while working as a mechanic. When Lyudmila has to take care of an empty apartment of an uncle who went to a vacation, she persuades Katerina to pretend they are noble students in order to invite rich men and find an easy life with a wealthy husband. In an act of carelessness, Katerina has unprotected sex with Rachkov and - stays pregnant. Rachkov does not want to have anything with the pregnancy, so she has the baby, Alexandra, and decides to raize her herself. 20 years later, Alexandra is a grown up girl and Katerina a director of a company. She finally finds a right husband, Gosha, but he leaves her when Rachkov visits Katerina to see his daughter. But Nikolai finds him and reunites the couple.

One of only four Russian films of the 20th century that won the Oscar for best foreign language film, gentle humorous drama "Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears" is weaker than other striking winners "War and Peace" and "Dersu Uzala", but is still a kind-spirited, unassuming and quiet chronicle of a provincial woman who raizes her daughter all by herself in Moscow. Sometimes stiff and stagy, and definitely overlong for such a light story, "Moscow" is nonetheless a pleasant watch centering around small people and their fates, and even unobtrusively adding a subtle socialist element in the subplot where Lyudmila only wants to marry a rich man, a man of status, but does not find happiness as Katerina did, who found a decent husband from the working class. The humor is scarce, but just enough to wrap up the melodramatic story in a better package, and those comical moments work the best. In one such moment, Katerina and Gosha are lying in bed until she realizes that her daughter will be back home any minute, so they quickly get dressed up, pack the portable bed back in the couch and quickly turn on the TV when the teenage daughter arrives. The other is when Nikola is searching for Gosha, who left Katerina, so he shows up in front of a woman on a door and pretends to be a KGB-like agent, asking her: "Grigory Ivanovich, or Gosha, or Goga, or Yuriy, or Gora, or Zora...Does he live here?!" "Moscow" could have been better, yet, overall, it is a positive viewing experience with emotions and understanding of people.

Grade;++

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Smurfs

The Smurfs; fantasy comedy, USA, 2011; D: Raja Gosnell, S: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Winters (voice), Katy Perry (voice)

In a fairytale forest, Gargamel and his cat Azrael find the secret location of the Smurf village, and in the ensuing chase, they and six Smurfs - Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Clumsy, Grouchy, Brainy and Gutsy - fall into the forbidden waterfalls, where they enter a portal and land in New York. The Smurfs find refuge in the apartment of Patrick, an advertisement specialist, and his pregnant wife Grace, while Gargamel is still trying to find them in order to exploit them for his superpowers. After a lot of misadventures, Patrick is able to help the Smurfs get back to their world via the portal during a Blue Moon.

Every now and then, certain live action adaptations of fantasy animated shows would send the characters into the real world. And while that was not quite welcomed in "Masters of the Universe", where the heroes landed in California, it was a welcomed turn of events to send the big screen adaptation of the "Smurfs" in New York, because there is simply not much to hold on to a feature length film revolving only around their village. Talented comedian Neil Patrick Harris saved the film, and that's pretty much it. Raja Gosnell's "The Smurfs" are a politically correct, but bland and uneventful film with no jokes worth mentioning. There is a subplot where Gargamel gains followers when he transforms an older lady into a younger woman, but it is suddenly dropped since it leads nowhere. Likewise, in one sequence, the Smurfs enter a store, but nothing happens except for empty breaking up stuff. That is because the screenwriters did not know what to do with those storylines, they just start and then drop them before they amount to anything. Naturally, though, it would have been a challenge to make something out of this vague concept even for B. Wilder. With only one truly funny joke (Patrick's swearing: "Smurf me!"), and a lot of well meant, but sadly lost performances in the thin, insipid plot, this is only a watchable flick that is even weaker once the hype is 'turned off'.

Grade;+

Thursday, 26 December 2013

The Last Unicorn

The Last Unicorn; animated fantasy, USA/ UK/ Japan, 1982; D: Jules Bass, Arthur Rankin, Jr., S: Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Jeff Bridges, Tammy Grimes, Christopher Lee

In a forest, a unicorn overhears the conversation of two hunters who speculate that she is the last of her kind. Curious, and willing to find out what happened to other unicorns, she travels across the country, but is captured by a witch, Fortuna, who uses her as a circus attraction. A clumsy, young magician, Schmendrick, releases her and they continue their quest together with Molly. In order to save her from the Red Bull, an entity that is persecuting unicorns, Schmendrick transforms the unicorn into a woman. They arrive at a castle near a beach, where it turns out that the king, Haggard, is collecting all the unicorns because they make him happy. His adoptive son, Lir, falls in love with the woman. Transforming back into the unicorn, she defeats the Red Bull and saves all the captured unicorns from the sea.

The long awaited big screen adaptation of Peter S. Beagle's eponymous novel, "The Last Unicorn" is, just like most US animated films for adults, a mixed experience. On one hand, it is touching, but that unfortunately wonders off into syrupy-melodramatic way too often, also aggravated by the 'ecstatic physiognomy' design of the characters, especially the maudlin look of the unicorn. Also, it is a prime example of how only two stupid scenes can "contaminate" and disrupt the whole rest of the storyline, here evident in the cringe worthy, bizarre moment where Schmendrick is tied to a tree and uses his magic to make it come to life, only to almost get suffocated by the female tree's "breasts" and the excessive sequence where a skeleton imagines to be drinking from an empty bottle. However, there is something enchanting in the core story of the unicorn who thinks she might be the last of her kind, speaking of some themes as loneliness, but also platonic love, transience and the extinction of innocence in the subplot when she transforms into a woman and discovers the alien feeling of lost love for the first time, resulting in a poetic line ("No sorrow will live in me with that joy - save one. And I thank you for that part, too"). Overall, the lines are the best ingredients in the film, and some are so good they break you heart ("It is a very rare person who is taken for what he truly is"; "I've had time to write a book about the way you act and look, but I haven't got a paragraph. Words are always getting in my way"), which hints that they worked in better harmony in its original, written form. Still, it is appropriately fairytalesque and opulent, with a naive, but optimistic happy ending, and has a different feel than many films of its kind.

Grade;++

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Gremlins 2: The New Batch

Gremlins 2: The New Batch; horror comedy, USA, 1990; D: Joe Dante, S: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, John Glover, Robert Prosky, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lee, Dick Miller, Hulk Hogan

New York. Tycoon Clamp destroys the building of the Chinese salesman, causing the gremlin Gizmo to escape. Billy and Kate work in Clamp's huge business building and discover that Gizmo is held there in a laboratory. The janitor accidentally splashes Gizmo with water, causing the creation of several evil gremlins that multiply, spread and soon put the whole building under siege. After all the customers and staff employees are evacuated, Billy advises Clamp to put dark sheets around the building in order to fool gremlins and lure them into the lobby, where the Sun will destroy them. Unfortunately, just then, the clouds cover the Sun, but after Murray splashes gremlins with water, Billy uses electricity to electrocute them to death.

"Gremlins 2" are a rare kind of sequel that is not one, but actually two steps above the original. Unlike the dumbed-down "Gremlins" that chronically lacked fun or a point, Joe Dante filled the 2nd part with fantastic humor so that the critters from the title almost reach the anarchic point of the Marx brothers. Already the intro is a surprise: in an animated segment, Bugs Bunny introduces the film in front of the Warner Bros. logo, but is interrupted by Duffy Duck who takes over the lead. The satirical tone is continued thanks to a wide range of shrill characters, from the rich Clamp (hilarious John Glover) up to numerous great little lines: in one howlingly funny moment, the police are forbidding the curious people in the crowd from entering the building under siege, but one persistent reporter insists upon entering, which leads to this golden exchange with the police officer: "You have to let me in! I was in Beirut!" - "Oh yeah? I bet they miss you there." The control technicians are mocking Billy's rule which states that gremlins should not eat after midnight ("And what if he eats something in the plane and crosses the time zone?") whereas even metafilm levels are reached when critic Leonard Matlin gives a negative review of the 1st film in a TV show. Billy is, unfortunately, again a bland character, and the story does enter a few empty stretches in the first half, yet the number of inspired jokes is staggering (depending on which version you watch, there is an intermission in which either John Wayne shoots the gremlins or Hulk Hogan threatens them to continue with the screening of the film, but both are so good you have to kneel in front of them; the gargoyle statue joke...) so that one can only pose the question why Dante did not wake up such untrammelled fun already in the 1st film.

Grade;+++ 

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Howling

The Howling; horror, USA, 1981; D: Joe Dante, S: Dee Wallace, Dennis Dugan, Patrick Macnee

TV news anchor Karen White plays a decoy for the police in order to lure and capture a serial killer. When he tries to rape her, the police intervene and kill him. Karen is unharmed, but plagued by nightmares, which causes her husband Bill to bring her to a psychiatrist, Waggner, who advises them to spend some time in a small, desolate settlement near the forest. However, Karen discovers that the inhabitants there are werewolves. When even Bill gets bitten and transforms into one, Karen and an acquittance, Chris, use silver bullets to fight the werewolves. While reading news on TV, Karen herself transforms into a werewolf and is shot and killed in the studio.

Werewolf horrors are a dime a dozen. "The Howling" is congruent to Joe Dante's dark-scary taste, and even though the heroine Karen, played by Dee Wallace, is rather bland, the sole execution of the already hundred times used genre is surprisingly impressive, maybe because, among others, the screenwriter was director John Sayles. The locations around the dark forest full of fog, inhabited by the beasts, are especially spooky and moody, and even a few shrill characters elevate the impression as a whole, like a doctor who on one side of the table holds a sandwich and on the other an organ that he dissects. The scene where the heroine transforms into a werewolf, live on TV, in front of the cameras, is remarkably original in the genre where the media presence was ignored. Despite the above mentioned plus points, "The Howling" nonetheless lacks more wit and spirit, since its humorless tone and often standard storytelling of the theme do not leave more room for a better grade, and it is difficult not to notice that Landis' "An American Werewolf in London" already gave a superior example of how that genre is done down to a T.

Grade;++

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Gremlins

Gremlins; horror comedy, USA, 1984; D: Joe Dante, S: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Francis Lee McCain, Corey Feldman, Dick Miller, Judge Reinhold

Freelance inventor Peltzer buys a strange, but cute furry creature, a Gremlin, from a Chinese store for his son Billy for Christmas. However, that same night, Billy fails to follow the rules: the Gremlin comes in contact with water, producing disgusting off-spring, and they in turn eat after midnight, transforming into hideous little monsters. Billy and a girl, Kate, thus try to battle with thousands of Gremlins spreading throughout their town. They manage to eliminate them by trapping them inside a cinema and setting it in an explosion though gas.

Joe Dante's most commercial film, black horror comedy "Gremlins" demonstrates that not every cult film from the 80s holds up well today. A bizarre mess, "Gremlins" start out as a satire on Christmas gifts and the tendency of decadent people holding exotic animals as pets, only to degenerate into a buffoonish plague of the little monsters - watching them break stuff the entire film is too little to hold the thin story, whereas the human characters act too much like extras, except for Billy's dad, a clumsy amateur inventor, or the grumpy neighbor, Murray. You do not know what is more misguided here: to have scenes of mom killing Gremlins by making them explode in the oven or setting the whole film on Christmas. Maybe the concept is an allegory of the Eastern philosophy or values (Gizmo was obtained from a Chinese salesman) getting distorted in the Western world, or an allegory of consumerism gone wild, but either way, that was not incorporated into a quality relation with the rest of the events. One of the few truly expressionistic moments with a point is the sequence of thousands of Gremlins cheering while watching "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on the big screens, in a peculiar sight of both cute and disgusting interacting together. Almost like 'Muppets' on acid, the film has a few moments of inspiration (Billy trying to grab a Gremlin before he jumps into a pool of water, thereby creating an explosion of proliferation), but overall, watching "Gremlins" is about as fun as watching a dozen cockroaches roam through a kitchen.

Grade;+

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Riddick

Riddick; science-fiction action, USA, 2013; D: David Twohy, S: Vin Diesel, Jordi Molla, Matthew Nable, Katee Sackhoff

Riddick is abandoned on a desert planet. This happened after he refused to convert to the Necromonger religion, even though he was their leader, so He wanted to get out, but was double crossed by Krone who wanted to kill him. Even though the conditions there are tough, Riddick is able to adapt an even find a pet, a giant alien dog. two spaceships land on the planet, because two bounty hunter groups, one led by Santana, and the other by Johns, want to get him. However, Riddick is able to eliminate most of them and make the others his accomplice if they want to get alive from the planet.

The third instalment of an 'improvised' trilogy that went into rather different directions after a surprisingly good cult original, "Pitch Black", "Riddick" switched the mood of the 1st film from an existentialist science-fiction film to a simplified science-fiction "Rambo", but, despite its flaws and known cliches, it is a 'guilty pleasure'. Riddick, played by Vin Diesel, is in a way so much fun because he is an invincible good guy, that even the film's unintentional humor manages to sway the viewer to a certain level. The hero's abilities are so over-the-top that they cannot be described in any other way - there's a bizarre sequence where Riddick gives himself small amounts of poison to get immune and then going on to challenge a giant, 7-foot tall scorpion coming out of the lake. The scorpion bites him on the leg, but Riddick just calmly keeps standing - as if he doesn't care - and then eliminates the beast. The sequence where he is chained to a chair, but still manages to eliminate the main bad guy with his legs, is also one of those "Come on!" moments, but a few more down-to-earth, realistic and plausible moments do work in the cat and mouse game between Riddick and the bounty hunters who are persecuting him on the planet. Except for the first expressionistic 25 minutes on the desert planet, realized almost without any dialogues, "Riddick" is a rather predictable and standard action film, suitable more for fans of the Riddick franchise.

Grade;+

Monday, 16 December 2013

Pleasantville

Pleasantville; fantasy/ drama/ comedy, USA, 1998; D: Gary Ross, S: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Daniels, Reese Witherspoon, Joan Allen, J.T. Walsh, William H. Macy, Paul Walker, Jane Kaczmarek, Don Knotts

One evening, while fighting over the remote control, two teenage twins from the 90s - the introverted David and extroverted Jennifer - get transported into a black and white TV show from the 50s, "Pleasantville". In that picturesque city, everything is perfect, but boring and monotone. With their unusual thinking and behavior, David and Jennifer inadvertently cause a shift in the way people behave, and bring sex, emotion and creative thinking. However, that way people gain color and the old folks, still in black and white, see them as a danger. David and Bill, owner of a snack bar who painted a nude picture, are brought on trial, but manage to defend themselves. David returns back home, while Jennifer stay to study.

One of the most underrated movies from the 90s, Gary Ross' debut "Pleasantville" is also one of the most unlikely allegories about the resistance to any Totalitarian tendencies and a fabulous essay about how a standard should never become uniformity. Overshadowed by the seemingly similar "The Truman Show", "Pleasantville" is actually a different kind of film, a one where the relationship between the people and the media actually doesn't even matter - what matters here is the relationship between those people who conform and those who do not. David and Jennifer are indeed yin and yang, symbols for conservatism and liberalism, who bring "color" in the 'positive North Korean-like' black and white Pleasantville world and change it. But the message here is not that a liberal life is better than a conservative one, but that people should move away from a pattern imposed on them. Jennifer changes Skip by teaching him how to have sex, yet he gains color, while she stays in black and white. She, a 'cool' girl, changes colors only when she puts on glasses and starts reading a book for the first time in her life. Likewise, the timid David changes color only when he stands up to bullies who were teasing Betty.

Therefor, the change in color is not a signal of a change from right to left wing, but the acceptance of your hidden, suppressed emotions, of the one who you really are in life. Joan Allen's Betty stands out as she goes a long way from a one-dimensional extra to one of the most complex characters in the plot. A few ideas are banal (no toilet seats, an overkill used to show how everything is "too clean") and the entire subplot involving the mysterious TV repairman (played by Don Knotts) should have been cut, because it just bothers the storyline, where no reason for the kids entering the TV show would have worked far better. Everything else works, from palpable allegories ("true" citizens; segregation of "colored" people who are a danger to the society...) up to a simply smashing final scene that brings down the house. In one scene, David spots his mother crying, and it is implied that her husband is leaving her. He wipes a tear on her face and they have this exchange: "I had the right life, I had the right house, I had the right car..." - "There is no right life." - "I mean, I'm 40 years old. It's not suppose to be like this...." - "It's not suppose to be like anything." That's a beautiful point. Life is not suppose to be like that and that, but not to be like anything else, where everyone has his or her own way.

Grade;+++

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Cherry, Harry & Raquel!

Cherry, Harry & Raquel!; erotic crime, USA, 1970; D: Russ Meyer, S: Charles Napier, Linda Ashton, Larissa Ely

Harry is a local sheriff with a busty girlfriend, Cherry, a nurse. He lives in a small town near the Mexican border. His boss, the bedridden Franklin, orders him to kill "Apache" because he interferes with their marijuana smuggling business. "Apache" survives the assassination attempt, and kills Franklin and Enrique, Harry's associate. He then has a shootout with Harry while Cherry and Raquel enjoy marijuana and hang out naked.

"Cherry, Harry & Raquel!" admittedly have a very confusing plot, but for Russ Meyer a story is supported here only insofar as to have a reason to show large breasts, either in a cleavage or nude. The crime tangle about some vague smuggler ring and a silver mine is half-hearted, but it wouldn't have been such a problem if the sole movie was at least more fun. The movie starts out with a fantastic opening text aimed against fanatic moral purists ("There are still those who concentrate their puny efforts in areas where no concern is needed. They call love evil...human body obscene...where they can never be anything other but beautiful"), but except for that, nothing else is fantastic anymore in the film (the beautiful actresses excluded), which is one long empty walk filled with random scenes. Still, at least one moment is an example of inspirational erotic, the one where a nude Cherry is buried in sand and Harry is slowly putting his hands in the sand, searching and digging out her breasts and legs. Likewise, Charles Napier here gave the most positive role as opposed to his others in the Meyer films, like the unbearable villain in "Supervixens".

Grade;+

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Chronicle

Chronicle; science-fiction drama, USA, 2012; D: Josh Trank, S: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw

Seattle. Teenager Andrew buys a new camera and uses it to record everything around him. His mother is sick and his father sometimes beats him. He is also bullied in school. One night, his friends Steve and Matt invite him to see a strange hole in the woods, which leads to a cave with strange crystals. After returning to the surface, they find out they have grown telekinetic powers. At first, they use it to make pranks, like making a teddy bear float in a store or to move a parked car. They are even able to fly. During a storm, Steve tries to calm Andrew, but the latter looses his control. A lightning bolt kills Steve. Andrew considers himself superior due to his powers, and kills four bullies to take their money away. When he lands in a hospital, his father blames him for the mother's death, which causes Andrew to start flying and wrecking havoc in the city. In order to stop him, Matt kills him.

"Chronicle" is almost like a hidden good Superman vs. fascist Superman story, an upside down retelling of the superhero Hollywood matrix, showing the bad guy as the main protagonist and how he became that way, caused by bullies and isolation in the society. However, the slightly overused "found footage" genre is a burden to the film since the storyline takes too many overconstructed means and shortcuts to tell the story only from the POV of home (or surveillance) cameras. Like, how many times have you seen a guy talking private stuff like "I think my mom is cheating on my dad" while someone is recording him? Or a teenager not stopping his camera while he is arguing with someone? Sometimes it is simply necessary to tell the story from the director's, "all-knowing" camera. The first half is slightly problematic, too, because it wastes too much time on the buffoonery of three teenagers, though it has a few moments (Andrew making the silhouette of the holly Mary in his soup to fool the waitress; the camera recording itself in the mirror while floating in the air; Andrew and Steve performing "magic tricks" in front of the puzzled audience). The second half takes a more welcomed philosophical approach, and the emergence of the old "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" theme. The story could have went in thousands of directions, yet this one is also a good version, with the action finale reaching almost the level of "Superman II".

Grade;++

Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs; comedy/ satire/ drama/ romance, USA, 2010; D: Edward Zwick, S: Jake Gylenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Josh Gad, Oliver Platt, Hank Azaria

The 90s. Jamie Randall works as a sales representative of a pharmaceutical company, and tries to sway doctors to prescribe its product, Zoloft, instead of Prozac. While pretending to be a doctor's assistant, he meets Maggie, a 26-year old who is one of the youngest diagnosed patients of Parkinson's disease. Even though she is cynical at first, he manages to charm her and have sex with her. His overweight brother, Josh, is annoying him while staying at his apartment. Jamie hits it big when Viagra is introduced to the market, but Maggie breaks up with him so that she will not be a burden with her disease. However, he decided to stay with her in the end.

"Love & Other Drugs" is a strange patchwork that blends four different subplots into a more of a chaotic than a harmonious whole. It starts off as a comedy, then becomes an erotic love story, then switches to a satire on pharmaceutical industry and the arrival of the Viagra, only to conclude as a tragic handicap drama (the main heroine is one of the youngest patients of Parkinson's disease and her health is deteriorating). In the end, we get some sort of erotic comedy version of "Philadelphia". It could have worked, but a more concise storyline was needed than this one, that jumps from one plot to another, all of whom seem as if they could have been a good film on their own, but not joined together when they all nullify each other. Too many supporting characters are annoying and unnecessary, especially Jamie's slob brother, the low point of the story, but the two main characters really shine and are played with great energy by Jake Gylenhaal and, especially fantastic, Anne Hathaway, who did not shy of showing skin and were both nominated for a Golden Globe as best actors in a musical or comedy. Another great little plus point is a sequence that shows Jamie trying to sway a doctor to prescribe his product, Zoloft, instead of Prozac, that gives a good insight into the system. The director tried to counterbalance the melodramatic last third of the story with comedy, avoiding it to turn too sentimental, but the result is mixed when it was done through such tasteless jokes as the one where Jamie catches brother Josh watching his sex video he recorded while sleeping with Maggie.

Grade;+

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Hitler from Our Village

Hitler iz našeg sokaka; war/ drama/ comedy, Croatia, 1975; D: Vladimir Tadej, S: Nikola Simić, Boris Dvornik, Ružica Sokić, Dušan Bulajić

Vojvodina, a few days before the outbreak of World War II. In a small village, people from various ethnicities live together. After the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, the Volksdeutsche, local, native Germans, become collaborators with the invading German soldiers. Among them is German Leksi, a drunk who suddenly becomes a Nazi patrolman. The position rises to his head and his ego cannot resist but to show off and belittle the locals. His neighbor Marko is secretly seducing his wife Anika. In order to save himself from going to the East front, Leksi agrees with Marko to get shot in the leg and go the hospital. Marko doublecrosses him and refuses to pay him. In anger, Leksi shoots Anika, and Marko Leksi. 25 locals are rounded up and executed as punishment.

Some films are rightfully forgotten with time, yet resurface here and there due to their sheer weird concept or strange title that seizes the attention. Among them is the solid, but standard humorous partisan film "Hitler from Our Village", a lifeless and mechanical 'museum example' of a movie, though it has such a cynical title that it managed to "survive" enough to get screened here and there. The sole concept is very good: it tackles the rarely shown perspective from the Volksdeutsche (native German minority of a country, here Yugoslavia) during the Axis occupation, and one of them, Leksi (very good Nikola Simic), sees this as an opportunity to rize though the ranks and turn from a nobody to a local bully. Except for three or four comical moments (in one of them, Leksi spots farmer Toma holding his hand up in the air in front of two other farmers and sees this as a sign to make the Hitler salute. However, after he does that, Toma says to his friends: "My dog was so happy to see me that he jumped this high"; Leksi urinating while looking at a wanted poster), the remainder of the film is overlong and did not exploit all the rich potentials of the starting idea, with too much empty walk and a whimsical end that does not seem like a harmonious conclusion to the whole.

Grade;+