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See the list of all 8 movies I saw in
- Star Trek Begins. Oh yeah, this time they came up with this frenetic and
most original idea that they go back to the young Kirk and Co. and tell us
how the legend was born. Not that it matters too much. Start Trek remains
what it is. Reliable, spectacular, but never reaching the heights of
Star Wars and never ever having the chance to become a sci-fi classic.
Vicky Christina Barcelona
- The Spanish National Tourist Office, The Agency for Tourism in Catalonia,
The Antoni Gaudi Association and Woody Allen proudly presents
Vicky Christina Barcelona, the latest promotional movie targeted for the
US market. The list of Golden Sponsors for this movie is the following:
The Vacation Department of Hollywood Trade Union, The Macho Lover Guild,
The Love-seeking American Girls Club, The Society of Idiotic But Wealthy
American Husbands and finally the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Stereotypes.
So the story goes that Woody and his crew got bored in foggy Albion and
aspired to warmer climate for a while. They also got allies, as the Spanish
contingent in Hollywood wanted a free trip home. They quickly
assembled a script, managed to convince some film managers (also just
considering a Spanish vacation) and soon
they started the shooting in the warm, sunny and loveable city of Barcelona.
They also included a few excursions into the script, just to prevent
getting bored in the same city for such a long time. Everyone enjoyed
staying there, the siesta, the excellent wine, the tourist attractions,
the friendly locals, the possibility of flirting and everything. In the
end, somehow they even managed to put the film together.
And it's not that bad, after all. The story passes as an
easy-going comedy: the main line is that two American girls spend some time
in Spain and have affairs with a charming Spanish womanizer. This is an
ideal story for single female audience, but obviously alienates
young and wealthy Gringos: unfortunately they are presented as boring idiots.
Not exactly an ideal program to take your girlfriend out on Valentine-Day.
With non-US male audience the problem is absent, for they can easily
identify themselves as the Latin womanizer and can also enjoy their
The movie is saved by the fairly good cast and the usual Woody Allen irony.
A little bit everyone plays his or her parody, which gives just enough spice
to the otherwise rather calculable story.
Woody Allen has made much better movies than this one. Still, this is
far more enjoyable than the the latest Adam Sandler effort or anything else
that Hollywood nowadays releases under the comedy tag.
The Tale of Despereaux
- My older daughter entered the cinema age. Last November she saw Magadascar 2
with her mother, so this time it was my turn. She seemed to like Despereaux
and I could also tolerate it. It is the usual Hollywood quality that I will
have to accept for the coming years, I guess.
The way movies work with me is that when
the film starts I simply switch to the world of the movie. My criticism
goes away: I accept the story, the characters, everything I see. This
comes from my early childhood so it is rather instinctive. Even though I
am grown-up now, I still think that this is a good way to watch movies - or to
read books, for instance. I rarely fall out of this imaginary world until
the film ends. Those rare occasions when I do indicate extremely bad
movies (I am fortunately quite skilled to avoid those, usually). Of course,
after the movie ends and I am coming out of the theatre, I switch back to the
real world and I start looking at the movie with much more criticism. It is
this period when I first evaluate what I have just seen, find the weak points
in the story or in the characters and realize if acting was not good enough:
thus I make my first categorisation. I usually just record this judgement
after a few days when I add the movie to this page, even though I often find
that the "magic" of most of the movies fades away relatively easily, so my
opinion after a couple of months or so may be worse than what the mark says.
Still I think it is more honest to keep my original judgement. Then, there
are some exceptions: good movies that manage to "work" in my mind for a
longer period and the more time passes the more I appreciate them.
Some of these I list under the Best of section.
Films I really recommend. I am not so much choosy, so quite a few movies
receive this mark.
Films that you should really avoid. I am rather tolerant, so not very many
movies get awarded with it.
See the list of all 8 movies I saw in
- Gigor Attila's first movie is a well-done European art movie.
Let me first explain what I mean by using the term "European art
movie": these are (mostly, though not exclusively) European movies that
differ significantly from Hollywood movies in style (slow-paced story,
less action, more atmosphere, more realistic characters, more emphasis on
social or individual problems, a bit more experimenting e.g. with the
photography, with the story, etc.).
However, although the stylistic differences might qive you the illusion of
real value, these movies are just as empty as their Hollywood counterparts:
no message, no catharsis. Just pure entertainment, albeit for a different
audience: instead of teenagers drinking coke in McDonalds looking for action
and special visual effects, it is more for university students drinking green
tea in a tea-house, looking for the aforementioned stylistic elements.
So, this is the field where this movie tries to make an impression. And
it succeeds, mostly. There is an excellent start and some interesting
characters (a lonely, shy and quite weird anatomist and his wannabie
girlfriend). There is a relatively good story with some unexpected twists
(experienced viewer may guess them, though). And finally, there is the
obligatory "artistic" element, this time taken from Woody Allen (at least
I saw similar ideas in his movies): in some points the movie gets surreal
by showing the main charatcter's thoughts and dreams: these are probably
the best parts of the film. Of course this is not a perfect movie,
there are a few inqonsequences in the script, but in summary it is an
enjoyable piece. That is, if you like the genre.
- A French-Lebanese movie. The style (and apparently some of the money)
comes from the French: this movie could have been directed by
Eric Rohmer or Agnes Jaoui. The story is Lebanese, although it gives
an ideal mix of eternal dilemmas and local flavours. The eternal dilemmas are
the various female roles and conflicts which you can experience everywhere
in the world. The local flavours are provided by the Lebanese environment,
which is excitingly mixed itself. It is a country torn by civil wars, as we
know from the press, but looks much more peaceful in this movie.
Christians and Muslims, Arabs and French-speaking coexist in a natural
although perhaps a bit tense manner (proven by the strong presence of
the military and the police). Still, the story concentrates on how women face
love, loneliness and aging. These are eternal issues but the local
patriarchist society gives much less freedom for women in coping with them
than in the west. This is mildly criticised by director Nadine Labaki
(also playing one of the main roles of the movie) in this refreshing and
See the list of all 10 movies I saw in
Das Leben der Anderen
- Mediocrity, thoroughness, morality, power. These words come into my
mind after seeing this very German movie, which is otherwise also a
great movie. It has agreat atmosphere, giving back the grey world of the DDR:
grey buildings, grey Trabants and Wartburgs, grey people, a country ruled
by mediocrity even in its colours.
Nevertheless, a thorough world: the Stasi thoruoghly maintains
the files about the many suspects, the agents thoroughly install the bugs in
their flats and thorougly watch them. (Later in the unified Germany they
thourougly maintain the very same files and make them open for everyone. A
thorough nation, the Germans.) But the Germans also value morality and this
is also evident in the movie. The moral awakening causes the otherwise
conformist writer to challenge the Communist power and the very same
moral attitude causes the much less typical and much less anticipated
awakening of the Stasi agent watching the writer. The latter transformation
is clearly more exciting, as the grey, mediocre, thorough and lonely
Stasi agent, the loyal servant realizes the real nature of the Communist
power during the observation of the writer and her wife. In the end he
also challenges this power in his own humble way. The story should
also be instructive for us Hungarians, as it shows an example of how
a nation should handle its dark past. The Germans already did a fairly
impressive "brainwash" after WWII to reach a catharsis on the sinful
nazi past and they did a similarly impressive moral confrontation in
the 90's with their Communist past and the Stasi. I envy them, because
we Hungarians have failed in this. The Germans consistently
opened all the Stasi files, and allowed everyone to go and see who had been
watched and who had been the agents and the informers.
In Hungary, this did not happen.
What happened instead was that many of the informers became prominent
politicians (other professions exposed to the public like artists,
journalists, church officials were/are also heavily "infected")
and the files were used to blackmail them, or to get rid of them
in a few occasions. Not exactly the right way to purify the society.
And the society is indeed far from being purified: they just do not really
care if it turns out that some prominent person was an informer back in
the Communist era. So, when such files come to the public, the former agent
just says some weak excuses ("I was forced into this" and "
I always tried to defend the people around me" and "I never wrote anything
harmful", etc.) and then everything continues as before.
This was what happened to Oscar-winner film director
whose story is particularly striking. An
was published in a weekly uncovering the fact that he was an informer back in
the early 60's. His personal post-scandal behaviour is a typical example of
trying to get away with feeble excuses. The reaction of the society was an
example of accepting these cheap excuses without criticism, just because
Szabó was an otherwise famous, talented and popular person, a "nice" guy.
And this is a pity: Szabó is one of the few informers who could have
stood up and confess his "sins" without losing his authenticity, because
Szabó the artist has done the confession. His best films showed how the
power can corrupt talented but weak persons, how one can lose one's
integrity. He got his Oscar for exploring this very topic in
Mephisto, (and he got
Oscar nominations for two other similar movies with
Brandauer). And then he
did confront this issue even more explicitly in
Taking sides, too. And he did it in
the right way, exposing all the complexity and all the moral issues.
So, it is indeed a pity he could not do it in the right way in his personal
life. And it is indeed a pity that we Hungarians could not do it the right
- A dark fantasy from a dark period of Spanish history, just
after Franco's victory: the main character is a young girl whose father
(assumably a republican) died and her mother married an army officer
from Franco's army. Her mother loves her but her dominating stepfather
does not. Her life is characterized by fear, lack of love and despondency.
No wonder she tries to escape into a fantasy world. But in a hopeless,
dark world even her fantasy is hopeless and dark. And the times are such
that no one can escape from the cruelty of the reality, not even a ten-year
Dnevnoy Dozor /
- The second part of a sequel, caught it in
it will come to Hungary later. I loved the first part (see
Nightwatch) and I love this one.
Original story, frenetic gags, spectacular effects and an "exotic" Russian
touch make this a cult film.
See the list of all 21 movies I saw in
Children of men
- Something is wrong. Humankind is heading to a catastrophy. Whether it is
WWIII or some climatic catastrophe due to global warming or both, that we do
not know. But something is wrong, that's for sure. At least this is how many
people feel and this movie is just another sign of that wide-spread feeling.
In this dark antiutopian sci-fi humankind loses its fertility completely,
the reason is not known: no children are born any more. Britain
is falling into military dictatorship under the pressure of terrorist
groups and the huge influx of refugees, while the rest of the world is
already in chaos. This is the setting of this movie and it may sound boring.
But the film is everything but boring. It shows a creative blend of what we
have now and what we could have tomorrow. And it conveys the hopeless
feeling that this is what we are heading to. A powerful and worrying vision.
BTW, Alfonso Cuaron is a great director to watch to. I first saw
his Sólo con tu pareja,
a great and insightful comedy. Then he directed the best
And now this, the most remarkable of his movies, so far.
- Germany's answer to My big fat greek wedding.
In fact, I like this one even better. First, it gives you the "usual"
multicultural gags. Then, one of the main characters is a young
wannabie film director who is a kungfu film fan and thus the movie contains a
lot of parodical scenes reminding to kungfu film classics. But not only kungfu
is parodised: even the a famous scene from
Where the Truth Lies
- When this movie was presented in Hungary, I briefly reviewed the story
and some of the critics and decided that it was not for me, despite being an
Egoyan movie and despite receiveing good comments. Then, during a visit to
Helsinki I had a three hours empty slot on my last day and decided
to go to a cinema. This movie was practically the only available option and I
decided to go for it. I did not regret it. This is a story about
the fifties and the beginning of the era of mass media. Stars are already
made by television but the society still maintains its old pre-60s
conservativism, at least on the surface. The main characters are a duo of
entertainers who are on top of their career. There is no limit for them and
they behave accordingly: having girls in every town, sometimes beating up
people they dislike, using drogs and so on. All of this without consequences:
they are superstars and the media machinery ensures that their superstar
status is not disturbed. However, once they make a mistake (incolving a dead
girl found in their hotel room) and although their career is not broken
immediately, the case still destroys their personal relationship and
eventually leads to the break of the duo and a decline of their careers.
While the story is still not somtehing very close to me (and thus my initia
assessment of not wanting to see it was more or less right) I have to
admit that it is very well directed and acted and its atmosphere will
probably have a longer term effect on me. Also, what it tells you about
the darker side of mass media and stardom is exciting, even though it shows
the effect not on the ordinary people but on the starts themselves.
- The latest Woody Allen movie is a modern blend of some career stories
by Balzac and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment (or rather, the lack of
Punishment). Quite a good movie, perhaps better than most of the recent
Woody Allen movies I have seen, probably because this time this was not
a comedy. Another recent thread in his movies is criticism towards
high society. (This was already evident in
Small time crooks). High society still
manages to separate from the rest of the crowd: even though the main
character is allowed into the family, this is exceptional. It is considered
as bringing in some "new blood" and the selection is based on strict criteria,
a key one of those is the ability to submit and adapt.
See the list of all 31 movies I saw in
Der Untergang (The very best of the year...)
- Bruno Ganz is perfect as Hitler! This fact alone would make the
movie worth seeing, but there is more than that. It as a precise account
of how the madness ruled in the last days of Hitler reign: how he let
the country suffer and when he realized that inevitable end, how he said
that Germans did deserve the fall. The film showed a lot of futile deaths:
ten year old recruits falling in the streets of Berlin fighting against the
Russians, deserters shot by Gestapo patrols. It also showed Hitler's
power over the people who still obeyed him and many of them also followed his
example and commited suicide in the last days. Perhaps the most shocking was
Frau Gobbels, who murdered of her six children, saying that it was not worth
living in a world without nazism. All in all, the film was shocking and it
gave you a strong warning: beware fanatic dictators!
Dallas Pashamende (The "Hungarian movie of the year" category)
- Great movie with great performances! Even the story (the usual
weak point of Hungarian movies) managed to capture me, although
in retrospect it seems rather calculable and builds too much on usual cliches.
The major strength of the movie is its atmosphere, built up by the shocking
images of the gipsy ghetto and the amatuer (well, they seem so real that I
think they give themselves) cast. Also, roma communities are known for their
lively and dominantly happy "southern" character, despite the poor conditions
they live in: this is also shown here. I am sure that it takes more than
this movie to make progress in emancipating the Romas of Central and Eastern
Europe, but this movie certainly raises your understanding of these
exploited people living "ganz unten".
Nochnoy dozor /
(The "Hollywood movie of the year" category)
- The empire strikes back. The Russians, after losing the cold war, try to
challenge the US in one of their dominant domains: film making. They probably
have a long way to go, but the effort is indeed remarkable: this movie
has all the ingredients for a reasonable success among sci-fi/fantasy circles.
Imaginative visual effects, creative, well-written and fast paced story and
good acting. The story is even written as a trilogy, so stay tuned for the next
part! Even the promotion of the movie is fairly professional, although
that actually proves that perhaps the Americans already know how to handle
this new Russian "threat". They simply buy the talent: the film is distributed
internationally by 20th Century Fox.
Comme une image
- After praising Le gout des autres so much, it was
obvious that I must see Agnes Jaoui's new movie. I am not disappointed: this film
is as exciting and charming as the previous one. It seems that the main thread of her
movies is about how people seek unrealistic goals in their personal relations and
how difficult it is for them to realize (if at all possible) that they could easily
find happiness by trusting and loving some other people around them.
- This is a movie that has a long-term effect. At first sight, it is
a slow-paced, seemingly boring story lacking excitement and emotions.
However, after a while, you realize how much you learn about different
ways you can lead (or could have led) your life, the different values that
can make you happy (or unhappy). The main character is a rich middle-aged
man who has no family and no intention to get one. Suddenly he receives a
letter which tells him about an unknown son. After some hesitation, he
embarks on a trip to meet his old girlfriends and to find his son. By
meeting the girlfriends, he is confronted with the various ways their
lives have failed and he slowly seems to realize how his own life is a
failure. The more he travels, the more he wants to find his son, as if
an eventual meeting could turn a failed life into a meaningful one.
At least, this is my interpretation, although I think that the story
is quite enigmatic and thus is open to some other interpretations.
See the list of all 23 movies I saw in
Les Invasions Barbares
- I saw a Canadian movie titled
Le Déclin de l'empire américain,
about 18 years ago. I can hardly recall the story, I only remember that
it was a typical French conversational movie, a'la Eric Rohmer: a
couple of friends gathered for a dinner at a lakeside house and
chat about their adventures (mostly sexual), their emotions,
thoughts and wishes. The title added special spice as its "political"
nature conflicted with the seemingly unrelated, peaceful and personal
atmosphere, at least at first sight. To be honest, I cannot remeber
whether I managed to understand the "message" of this second layer, I
must have dedicated some time to think about it, but the result - if
any - is hiding in some dark corners of my brain. Still, despite all
the fading details, I do remember that it was amongst the best
movies I had ever seen. So, I was eager to see the new "20 years
after" part of the story, when I learnt that 'Les Invasions Barbares'
is based on the that earlier gem I praise so much. I will now praise
the new part as well: the story is less idyllic as it is about the death
of one of the characters of the former story. The film presents not only
how his family and his friends support him and try to make him pass away
in an "ideal" way, but it also gives a much more critical picture about
society: the only way for a human being to die in this ideal way is to have
someone with a lot of money and a lot of determination to create the
conditions. Otherwise people are put into run-down hospitals and left
with some strangers (other people dying, maybe) in a crowded room.
I would say that the first part twenty years ago was stronger in the
"conversational" part and in presenting personal relationships:
this new movie was somewhat schematic, as it could not really go beyond
cliches in presenting how the people react to the coming death of their
close friend. However, the social message was much stronger this time.
A corrupt society and a neglected healthcare system is presented in a
society ruled exclusively by money. This is a somewhat usual message
of Central-European movies, but it is quite shocking to see it in the
"heart of the empire". (Well, obviously Canada is not so much the
"heart of the empire", but it is generally considered a happy and rich
country by us "poor" Hungarians used to a corrupt society and a neglected
Szezon (The "Hungarian movie of the year" category)
- I saw four local movies this year and the selection was very strong.
Kontroll was the other main contender,
but finally I picked this one: it is a new piece from the director of
Moszkva tér. The movie tells the
story of three boys working as waiters in various places of Hungary. The
story is uneventful and simple, just like the life of
the main characters. Hopelessness and humiliation are the keywords here
and the atmosphere of the movie perfectly reflects this. A strong movie.
Lost in Translation
- Travelling abroad, especially in an exotic country of a strange,
sometimes embarrassing and puzzling culture places the traveller into a
special state of mind. The two main characters of this film experience this:
in their home environment they would probably pass each other without
noticing, but being lost in a strange world they discover the similarities
in each other's way of thinking and in each other's life. They become
attracted to each other, but their relation has no future back home as they
they both have their own family. This is the story of this slow-paced movie,
which has an overwhelming atmosphere conveyed by beautiful photography and
very good acting.
- Tim Burton's movie is very personal and very American: a charming
imaginary world created by a father confronts with the down-to-earth
son, who simply thinks the father is telling lies. While an average Hollywood
movie would bomb us with the banal message that we can fulfil our dreams if
we try and work hard, Tim Burton says that perhaps we are what we dream
even if these dreams never come true. And perhaps simply by dreaming we
already change our world. Perhaps this is the very same American message, but
at least Burton manages to present it in a non-banal way.
See the list of all 19 movies I saw in
Mies vailla menneisyyttä
- Great movie from Aki Kaurismaki! A ballad from a man hit on his head,
losing his memory and starting a new life in the very bottom of Helsinki's
society. Two trivial messages, both made authentic by the story: first,
an optimistic belief that if you work hard and are a bit lucky, then you can
find your way out from the worst situations. The other message is the
sympathy towards the poor and criticque towards the rich. Again, trivial
these may seem, the movie presents them with power. The film
otherwise features the usual strength of Kaurismäki's movies:
simple, laconic dialogs spiced with deadpan humour.
All or nothing
- Mike Leigh's latest masterpiece! A film about people with the usual
dull lives of working class people that offers no prospect.
A film about people who can only survive these dull lives if they are
able to find someone to love.
Kelj fel komám, ne aludjál
- Jancsó's fourth "Kapa and Pepe" story, and I am just wondering why I have
missed the first three (something to change...). The film's style strongly
reminds me to the frenetic
Legkisebb film a legnagyobb magyarról,
featuring the very same fresh, sarcastic and saucy humour, that perhaps
concentrates a bit too much on gags and a bit too little on a consistent
story. Even the topic is similar, the nationalistic way Hungarians see
their own history. The style favours shorter movies and sometimes
l'art pour l'art gags try to fill the empty minutes. At the same time
Jancsó uses the traditional tools of a director in a much more professional
way (not a surprise, I guess) and he also has stuff for you to think about.
The result is a fresh and innovative movie. I wish I had such a fresh and
open spirit at the age of 81! The music by
Kispál és a Borz
is also frenetic!
See the list of all 65 movies I saw in
Sĺnger frĺn andra vĺningen (The very best of the year...)
- Go and see it! This film makes you probably sad and depressed, but it is
a wonderful and touching movie about the misery of human life in modern
societies: the ultimate loneliness and hopelessness, which we do not like
to think of, but have to face. As the film is based on poetry (by the to me
unknown Cesar Vallejo), it does not have a straightforward story. Rather,
it is a collection of scenes that all move you at an emotional level,
as you see the vulnerability of all the people. The film is moving from
reality towards surrealism, although you could see the strong surrealistic
pictures as the real and hidden nature of our society, which fails to offer
any help to these eternal problems. Perhaps
Brazil is another rare example
of such a consistent, talented and unique vision that is strange and
fantastic but it conveys something fundamental about our own world at the
same time. I actually went to see this movie again so that I could grasp
more from its symbolism, enjoy its excellent and unique film-making, and
last but not least to feel it again. This film does not give you hope, but
perhaps it makes you more sympathetic to other people, let them be alcoholics,
immigrants, old, stupid, mentally ill or just simple "boring philistines".
Hukkle (The "Hungarian movie of the year" category)
- The life of a small and poor Transdanubian village is presented in "the
movie of noises". Dead and live matter, plants, animals and human beings
are all shown as part of a greater unity. Noise is everything here: wind and
water, cars and carriages, pigs, cats and moles, human activities like
preparing food in the kitchen or the beat of sewing machines in a workshop
are all equally important in the well composed symphony of noises.
As a consequence, human actors do not speak: more precisely they
occasionally do but we cannot hear what they say and their speech is just
part of the noise. As the wonderfully photographed scenes advance in a
slow pace, a dark and sad human ballad unfolds. The seemingly
idyllic pictures hide a sick and hopeless local society where men are
mostly useless and unemployed, where wifes poison their husband (and
accidentally others) and where all this is accepted as a fact of life.
The story ends with the desperate expression of the local policeman who
- although he is aware of all this - cannot decide what to do as
practically all women (including his mother) is involved in the murders.
This is indeed a very strong movie, especially if you consider that it is
the debut of a young director. The style, the visual and musical language
is innovative and captures the viewer. I am not sure that the extreme story
(the series of the murders) is really in place, perhaps a simpler, more
down-to-earth story would have been a better choice, although
I accept that the contrast of the dark and shocking story and
the idyllic pictures adds extra and needed spice to the film.
- Art vs. politics; the ethical dilemmas of talented artists when
politics approaches them; this has always been István Szabó's favourite
topic. Already the Oscar-winner
featured a talented actor selling
his soul to the Nazis. This time the story is based on real-life events:
while most of his colleagues fled the country, Wilhelm Furtwängler,
this truly exceptional conductor stayed in Germany during the Nazi era and
continued his career with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This
"collaboration" provoked strong accusations after the war. The film is the
story of the investigation by the American post-war authorities to decide
whether the accusations of collaboration are valid. The film presents two
ethical answers. The first one is stated by the American officer
(played excellently by Harvey Keitel), who believes that Furtwängler is
morally guilty, as he accepted a shining career from the Nazi's hand. The
second answer is presented by Furtwängler himself who tries to defend himself
by stating that in order to help (by "help" he both meant practical assistance
- as he did save many Jews during the war - and a spiritual message - as he
claimed that his music maintained the inner good in his nation's soul even in
the time of Evil) he had to compromise with the Nazis, but he never really
collaborated with them. The film itself (despite its title) does not take
side, although it seems to sympathize with Furtwängler as an artist and
generally presents the American officer as an ignorant and illiterate person.
However, as the investigation proceeds, this aggressive and obnoxious person
asks questions that are very hard to answer: is it acceptable to make such a
compromise with a regime that kills 6 million Jews? Is it really so that
Furtwängler made the compromise with the idea of helping people in need? Or
rather, did he make it to advance his career? The film has triggered exciting
conversations with my friends who have differing opinions. I think these
lengthy talks are the best proof that this is an excellent film and
it has achieved its aim. The story has several layers (I particularly liked
the way differences of American and German cultures are presented), the
characters are exciting and well played: if you like thought-provoking movies,
go for this one!
(Read more about
(The "Iranian movie of the year" category)
- After last year's discovery of Iranian movies,
I hurried to see this movie. I was not disappointed after the screening:
this movie is less poetic than the earlier ones but its simple story
gives a very powerful account of women's life in Iran. This is a sad and
rather hopeless life that starts with the unwelcome birth of baby girls,
continues with the many abandoned girl children and culminates with the
limited options and freedom women have in their life. We can watch not only
how the tragedies of the the main female characters are unfolding but we
can also see the humiliating way women are treated by men in their everyday
life. I don't want to fall into the usual ignorant Western attitude towards
Islamic societies, but this movie was made by Iranians, so it seems that even
in Iran there are some people who think that something is wrong with the
social status of women in their society.
I also want to stress that the more I think of this movie, the more I
like its film-making as well: the acting is excellent, the script is
perfect (and even fast-paced, if you don't expect car races or fist
fights as a proof of fast-pacedness...), every scene adds something
new to the story. The film's message is conyeyed to the viewer not only
via the story itself: the photography, the close-ups and the cutting
powerfully strengthens it.
Traffic (The "Hollywood movie of the year" category)
- An unusual look at drog traffic between Mexico and the US. Although
the film seemingly concentrates on the traditional and hopeless war between
drog kartells and the police, it suggests that drog use is based on the crisis
in the society and in the families. The solution (if any) must also come
from the society and the families trying to prevent the hopeless situations
in which people turn to drogs: building a baseball ground or listening to
what your daughter says may be more important than eliminating a drog
kartell. The film is extremely well done: small stories build up the bigger
picture, the characters look real characters (played extremely well), and
I very much liked the photography.
See the list of all 60 movies I saw in
Bad ma ra khahad bord and
- Movies from Iran: not much action, but a lot of poetry. Simple and
enigmatric at the same time, these pieces belong to the most wonderful and
powerful movies I have seen in recent years.
Le gout des autres
- This is a wonderful movie. Agnes Jaoui's movie slighty reminds me to
Eric Rohmer's style, although the story is less idyllic than in his movies
(times are less idyllic, I believe). Of course this is not simply a "Rohmer
copy", far from that. It tells us how people search for happiness and how
easily they fail in their search. They may fail because they trust each
other too much, or they may fail because they don't trust each other enough.
They may fail, because they have prejudices against other people, even though
they are the ones who claim themselves free of prejudices.
- Alhough (in retrospect) this movie is not so good as the other ones
listed in this section, I wanted to honour at least one Hungarian movie:
this year I saw more local movies than earlier and I found many of them quite
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
- Well, I wanted a Hungarian movie here and I wanted a Hollywood movie as
well. Here is my choice: this is a wonderfully directed, photographed and
played movie. It is also a great story. The exotic touch adds some extra
spice, but it is really a minor factor. Although this movie received "only"
four Oscars and thus came behind
Gladiator (the other contender of
the same epic genre) in this year's Oscar race, they are not in the same
category in my opinion: Gladiator is pure entertainment whereas
this movie is real art.
Ŕ la verticale de l'été
- A Vietnamese movie, a rare phenomenon in Hungarian cinemas. It is a bit
strange in the beginning that all those Vietnamese characters speak French
(obviously caused by the French cooperation in the making of this movie), but
otherwise this is not the only French influence in the movie: this could have
been a typical French story about the eternal problems of one's private life,
love, marriage, deception, the search of happiness.
See the list of all 42 movies I saw in
- This film definitely belongs to the best movies I have ever seen. It is a
shocking and surrealistic story about the history of Yugoslavia and it
shows the charming but self-destructive temperament that is so characteristic
to the people of the Balkan (unfortunately I cannot claim that Hungary
would be entirely free from this madness, although my prideful countrymen
get usually offended if anyone dares to suggest that we have anything common
with the Balkan). After seeing the movie I browsed through the related
IMDB user comments.
Not surprisingly the film wakes strong sentiments and controversial opinions
among the viewers, especially among those who come from the region. One
statement expressed by many is that you need to live in the Balkan to
understand (and appreciate) the story. I disagree with this: the magic of this
movie is strong enough to capture you, whatever background you may have. Your
interpretation may depend on your background, but that is always the case
with any piece of art. (To add a somewhat ignorant and cynical remark:
maybe non-locals are not be able to understand the movie, but locals
definitely don't seem to be able to learn from it.)
- Dogma95 is not a movie: it is an initiative by some Danish
(hm, at least I think they are all Danish) directors. It is about
making movies without "cheating": the basic idea is not to allow special
effects when making the movie. The meaning of "special effect" is driven to an
extreme end and includes not only those computer generated "Star Wars
effects" visible only in the most expensive Hollywood movies, but
also the everyday effects present in every film: music, lighting, studios,
costumes, camera stands, and so on. This principle is taken seriously: the
director of the third Dogma movie confesses that once he covered a window
with a black drape and (as being a "lighting effect") he considered this as
a breach of the rules. I think the basic idea is that a good story
and good acting is what counts, not some fancy effects that amaze you for
the moment but in fact cover an empty and meaningless film. I do not think
that following Dogma's rules is the only way to make good and meaningful
movies, but I certainly find it a honorable effort (well, the only way I can
actually honour the idea is that I will look for Dogma movies).
Dogma does not seem to be an initiative that is spreading like wildfire.
Still, quite a few Dogma movies have been internationally acclaimed pieces
collecting awards. This will probably keep the idea alive for a while and
bring us some good pieces of cinema.
Ogniem i mieczem / With Fire and Sword
- This is a very good costume epic that comes from Poland. It is based
on a wonderful novel from the famous Polish writer Sienkiewicz and the story
captures the soul of a nation. The film manages to convey this to the
audience. I enjoyed every moment of this romantic but also humorous movie!
Go for it, if you can!
- The late Oscar winner is a surprisingly good movie from Holywood. It is
not only the well-written script and the very fine performances (with the
well-deserved Oscar for Kevin Spacey in the lead): this time there is
some catharsis at the end. This movie wants to tell you something and
it even manages to do so.
Buena Vista Social Club
- This is a documentary about the people behind the Grammy-winner
Buena Vista Social Club album. Three components make this movie excellent:
the wonderful music, the glamourous characters (almost all of them old,
forgotten Cuban musicians) and the enchanting pictures of the wonderful but
extremely poor and neglected city of Havana. The contrast between Cuba's
closed (and despite all misery somewhat idyllic) world and the glitters
of the busy western world adds special spices to this movie.
See the list of all 36 movies I saw in
Summer of Sam
- This is a must: a powerful story from Spike Lee. Quite the same
atmosphere is in Do the right Thing. Shows the darker side of
The Big Apple. (See the
Spike Lee link!)
- A gem from
Jacques Tati: a slapstick-like movie from the sixties about
how strange the modern world is. This is an excellent movie!
Rikos ja rakkaus / Crime and love
- The most frenetic comedy I have seen for years! Based on a Finnish
theatre play, it has an original story with a lot of unexpected turns
(smuggled vodka turning out to be water, blackmailing and
counter-blackmailing, etc.) funny characters (including a corrupt police
inspector with some pikant sexual habits, a hypocrite priest,
the not-really-bright police constable and others). Perfect entertainment!
Many of the links below are maintained by fans as a free-time activity, so
I cannot guarantee their availability (or correctness, for that matter).
If you need reference information (biography, filmography, etc.)
about these directors, I recommend
The Internet Movie Database.