|Index||9 reviews in total|
"Ta divna splitska noc" belongs to the latest wave of Croatian
movie-making, which has in the recent years kindled a new hope for the
future of this cinematography. Following the trend, the film bursts
with dark humor and honestly explores the painful sores of a frustrated
The storyline encompasses three loosely connected episodes, all of them taking place simultaneously during the final hours of seeing the Old Year out in the coastal city of Split, Croatia. There is some Tarantinoesque moving back and forth through time, though rather conservative as compared to "Pulp Fiction" - each of the three stories runs its course from start to end, to be followed by another. Some of the characters meander throughout the movie, some are resurrected from their deaths as we step back in time, but each of the stories is narrated as a linear episode in itself.
The subject matter is deeply rooted in the dark side of the contemporary Croatian reality, focusing on dissipated war veterans, drug abuse, teenagers with no present or future, a general feeling of hopelessness. A war widow is having a torrid affair with her late husband's war buddy, who doesn't really care about her; a depressed American sailor is reluctantly fitted with a reluctant prostitute for the night; two teenagers consent to lose their virginity with each other, only to be faced with a lack of premises to do so. When the midnight finally arrives, the New Year brings forth not only the fireworks, but madness and violent death as well.
Mirko Pivcevic shot the film in a lavish black-and-white photography, bringing to mind Robert Krasker's Viennese sewers of "The Third Man". Split is an ancient Mediterranean city and most of its historic core is carved in weathered stone, so it looks great by day and sensational by night, given a proper lighting. The overall production highly surpasses the film's modest budget. There are some minor flaws, such as amateurish rantings of Coolio's drunken sailor buddies, but most of the actors are up to their tasks, and the direction by Arsen Anton Ostojic is inspired. I particularly enjoyed the vigorous performance of the eccentric local celebrity, Dino Dvornik, as the Singer.
This is a very dark film (thematically as well as visually) whose
imagery is, at times, hypnotic. Set in the director's home town of
Split, it portrays the city in an extremely shadowy, surreal and
drug-induced tone (a fact that may potentially put off some viewers).
Nevertheless, the incredible strengths of the work cannot be ignored.
After coming out of the theater I found myself constantly thinking back to the poignant, elegant & graceful imagery of the movie. Some of the shots are so masterfully crafted, for a moment it seemed as though I was watching a Stanley Kubrick film. -Beautiful, moving crane and dolly shots that seem to know just where your eyes want to go- with lighting that stays artistically dramatic in the most visually compelling ways.
There are also some incredible performances, with most of the actors cast perfectly with faces to type. One that sticks out in particular is of a girl who turns to prostitution to pay for her drug habit. There's a scene where she breaks down after losing her chance to get a fix where I was transfixed by her performance. Her emotions were so genuine and natural it seemed almost like documentary footage rather than fiction.
With a very non-linear, "Memento" type of structure, the story keeps you guessing in many clever ways. Mr. Ostojic is clearly an extremely talented director who created a real work of art that is truly worthy viewing for any fans of Kubrick's early films.
A beautiful movie!!!! Probably the only one made in Croatia that
deserves to be called "a movie". Puzzling the peaces of three different
stories in an intelligent and witty way, and at the end a bit
surrealistic. It all happens in one day, the special day of awaiting
the New years day in the city of Split (the title of the movie "Ta
divna splitska noc" translates to "That beautiful night in Split" - a
Shortly described, first story is about the former Croatian soldier, and present drug dealer involved in a relationship with a widow of his former war-companion; the second about the nineteen year old girl, drug addict (heroin) in search for drugs and money, which takes her to famous Coolio (his role in the movie is proclaimed to be "an American element" by the Venetian Film Festival hahaha:)); the third about the couple walking around the city looking for a place to have sex and tripping at the end.
But not to sound that serious, the movie has it's special humor (call it black), connecting everything and everybody in a cold/warm story about the city (Split) and people somehow all screwed up in a beautiful way! P.s. Black and white photography and music is nice (Dino Dvornik is the singer connecting the stories and those not introduced - a well known Croatian musician born in Split, making - i don't know, funky music..heh!)
Extraordinary sensibility for details and human behavior Mr. Ostojic, director and a writer of the film has an extraordinary talent for details. Although camera doesn't come too close to the subject, through behavior and emotional impact, situation and internal dialog as well as the tempo is an amazing journey. I was riveted to the last minute. Going back in time, made this movie more interesting, since we could see the same scene through the angel of someone else. Original as adding another layer of Film Language to the existing one. I followed Mr. Ostojic's development as an author and filmmaker. From The Bird Lover in 1993 to Life Drawing, to A Wonderful Night in Split. He is establishing himself as a mature artist. I expect only the best from him and will look for his new project with an expectation and anticipation to be as good as he's done it so far. BRAVO. Oscar is very possible.
How many people die at the same time, each day, globally? Probably
millions. But, how many die in the same town, in the same building and
at almost the same time, each day? Probably very few. Which makes this
story quite special, and not only for that coincidental aspect of
coincidental deaths. But, not all of the deaths are altogether
Using that idea as its main premise, there are four main stories, all played out within the confines of a wonderfully, darkly photographed series of interconnected apartments, all self-contained within a larger all-encompassing structure that must be many hundreds of years old (a medieval ghetto, I understand) and all on the Mediterranean coast.
The camera work is gripping (no pun intended), innovative and spectacular; it sweeps across and above the narrow alleys, through corridors, up stairs, through windows, and upon roofs as we see the gathering crowd attending a New Year's eve bash in the large central courtyard.
Intermingled with the crowd is Nike (Mladin Vulic), a tough, gruff womanizer always looking out for himself and on the hunt for drug money; and there is Maja (Marija Skaricic), a desperate loner and drug addict who's been cheated out of her next hit and is on the hunt for more she needs a fix, like real bad; and then we come across Franky (Coolio), one of quartet of American sailors on the town, looking for action specifically a prostitute for Franky who's been jilted by his fiancée back home; and finally, we see two teenage lovers who just want to get to a secluded spot for a bit of hanky-panky, and get more than they bargained for.
Avoiding conventional linearity of narrative structure, director Ostojic cuts back and forth in time as he interleaves each story, so that the denouement for each is shown to occur at or very near the stroke of midnight while the crowd dances and prances to greet the New Year along with the obligatory fireworks display. It's all done with great panache; obviously Ostojic has studied some of the great directors, like Stanley Kubrick, Carol Reed and perhaps a touch of Tarantino. The sound track is particularly effective even the inane, jazzed-up quasi-rap from The Singer (Dino Dvornik), the leader of the rock group on stage.
The acting is up to scratch for the most part; only the four American sailors come across as somewhat gauche (perhaps that was intentional) although Coolio does a good job, overall. Of special mention are Vulic and Skaricic, the latter playing the frantically on-edge junkie perfectly, in my opinion. Not to be missed, also, is Dvornik as The Singer, playing a part that shows, once again, that all is never what it seems to be. Now throw in a mix of bit players to round off an exceptionally well produced, modern melodrama and one well worth your time to see.
Avoiding color completely, the mise-en-scene at night in black and white is suitably foreboding, even with the entire town alight with New Year festivities reminiscent of those dark Vienna streets and inky-black shadows in The Third Man (1949). Director Ostojic knows well his art and his craft.
Recommended for all except kids.
June 28, 2012
Croatia had been part of Yugoslavia before becoming its own country in
1991. Arsen Anton Ostojić's "Ta divna splitska noć" ("A Wonderful Night
in Split" in English) looks at the result. The movie is set during a
rock festival in the coastal city of Split. Amid the festivities, there
are stories involving a widow, a drug addict, and a couple looking for
a way to consummate their relationship. The black-and-white
cinematography creates a surreal feeling throughout the entire movie.
Watching the movie, I was reminded of Jim Jarmusch's "Mystery Train", which features overlapping vignettes centering on a main topic. Much like how Jarmusch's movie looks at the underbelly of Memphis, Ostojić's movie looks at the underbelly of this ancient city on the Adriatic Sea. Is there any city that doesn't have an underbelly?
Anyway, I recommend the movie. I guess that they cast rap artist Coolio (of "Gangsta's Paradise" fame) to add some ethnic diversity. Worth seeing.
This looked like another movie with people dying because they cannot
cope with drugs, or with their emotional problems, or something. But it
managed to keep my interest right up to the very last scene, and I am
sorry I cannot tell you about it without spoiling it for you. I am glad
I saw it, for the end left me wondering in a way I didn't expect at
As for the technical aspects: Most of the actors were fine. I liked the black and white photography, and the rather claustrophobic way the camera follows the characters along the alleys. That, along with the overhead shots, does a lot to convey their feelings of entrapment. The structure of the script is no big news, but it works fine for me, specially the way the end presents itself. Good show!
Set in Split, Croatia during New Year's Eve, three stories run dealing
with the underworld of drugs and prostitution. Nike is a pusher and a
widow named Marija is looking to escape from all of her troubles.
A hooker, Maja, decides to have sex with an American sailor, Frankie(rapper Coolio), in trade for some heroin. This is the most tragic of the story lines and Coolio is surprisingly good in the part.
The third and only light hearted and sentimental plot involves a couple, Luka and Vandela searching all night for a place to have their first sexual encounter.
The only element connecting the three tales is an outdoor concert with fireworks in the background throughout the movie. It is shot in black and white, in keeping with the dark and pessimistic tone and ironic title. Director Arsen Ostojic shows great style in his first feature. A possible Croation Hitchcock in the making. He has definitely been influenced by Sir Alfred. My only caveat is to be prepared to be depressed by Mr. Ostojic's work.
Well-photographed and well-acted movie with a good film score from a
town I haven't yet been to. Not a good occasion to delve yourself into
the beauty of the city - the dizzying atmosphere of Split on New Year's
Eve it does make you feel, for as much as I can judge this, but given
that it's nighttime, don't watch this movie just to make up for a
missed chance to visit the town (visit the town instead, if possible).
I wasn't disappointed at all by this lack of tourism promotion, though.
The story really is the type that holds your interest very well, as
pointed out before me, and it uses cleverly messed-up chronology to
interweave lives in a city where foreigners might knock on your door
with indecent requests and where drugs apparently are a problem - some
minor or major side-branch of the big international drugs route to
Western Europe leading through it, I suppose.
As to my vote: 7 out of 10 - well, it could have been 10 but for the ending. (Skip the rest of my comment if you're not interested in my otherwise non-spoiling remarks on it.) To paraphrase Hamlet, "Though this be a spoiled ending, yet there is method in't" - I can see the point made by the authors, and I wouldn't even say the ending's not fitting. If you have only seen this one instance of such an ending, it will work very well, I suppose. I have had the experience of liking a movie with this sort of ending, only to then run into comments here on IMDb telling me it's been seen before. But do watch the movie even in case you have an idea of what I'm talking about, I do recommend it.
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