Rindu kami padamu

[Screenshot]I may have missed something about this one that made me unable to appreciate it, or something. There are vignette storylines that center around a market and the claustrophobic, low-rent housing nearby, but it’s very difficult to make sense of the characters’ motivations or the extern to which their actions serve to progress the plot. I think some slipshod design on the subtitles may have also created problems: the lines were sometimes oddly flat, and when multiple actors were speaking at once, the mapping between subtitle lines and voices wasn’t very clear. All in all, I’m afraid it fell completely flat for me, in spite of my usual enthusiasm for settings and characters outside my range of experience. Not all of these experiments can be winners!

See also: IMDB.

A Porcelánbaba

[Screenshot]A Porcelánbaba is very firmly an example of magical realism. I know a few people who loathe that genre-indicator, but it’s surely appropriate here: these vignettes are pastoral stories, with the incidental and quiet occurrences of the miraculous or inexplicable. The cinemacraft, while not of the highest quality, is competent, and the three vignettes of which this film is made are each paced such that the story never seems to drag. This is an unmistakably Hungarian story, thematically: in each segment, the disruption to the village’s routine comes at the hands of malign outside forces. The exact historical period is left somewhat adrift: the military unit from the first segment is reminiscent of the Austrians, while Csurmándi from the second segment (played by the now-familiar Sándor Csányi) delivers rhetoric suggestive of the Soviet occupation. All in all, the whole story is not entirely unlike a Miklós Jancsó story (but with fewer naked people), in its light surrealism and its exploration of disruption by the outsiders. It’s actually an unusually backwards-looking film for the 21st-century Hungarian film industry, but its old-fashioned style is reminiscent at least of the better pre-’89 cinema.

See also: IMDB.

Ta divna Splitska noć

[Screenshot]Huh. My willingness to watch completely random Central European cinema continues to serve me. This peculiar little Croatian film works together a couple of vignettes into an engrossing cross-sectional view of society. It reminds me in a few ways (particularly the ending) of I Love Budapest, but it doesn’t actually suck. Here, the spiralling out of control of people’s business and emotional affairs actually feels organic and the consequences natural and dramatically effective. Cinematically it’s powerful too: black-and-white film can be either starkly effective or insufferably pretentious, and here, in the shadowed winding alleys of Split’s Altstadt, it points up the films bleakness and obscurity. The cinematography is some of the more effective I’ve seen in a while, and it, rather than any of the actors, carries the film thematically. Not that the actors are phoning it in (although I do wonder what the hell Coolio’s doing in this film; his flattened delivery can be excused as representative of his character, though), but one’s always ill-qualified to judge dialogue in a foreign language.

I feel duty-bound to close with unqualified praise. Whenever I see a film which hasn’t gotten a lot of attention which impressed me, it seems only right to be a vocal proponent. And I very much doubt most Americans have even heard of this one.

See also: IMDB, Wikipedia.