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Filmmaker Manchevski is in full stride with his third offering
johno-2122 January 2008
I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Film Festival. This was Macedonia's official entry as Best Foreign Language Film to the Academy Awards. First of all, I had to refresh myself geographically to find out exactly where Macedonia is, which is a landlocked Balkan nation that was once part of the Yugoslav Republic and is surrounded by Serbia, Bugaria, Greece and Albania. Set in the nation's capital of Skopje with location shooting in Ohrid this is a beautiful country and a beautiful film. Director/writer Milcho Manchevski, noted for his first two critically acclaimed films and now residing in New York returns to Macedonia to film Shadows, a story about a young doctor, Lazar Perkov (Borce Nacev), who is involved in a life threatening car accident. After a year of rehabilitation and his marriage to Ignjat (Dime Llije) dissolving and living a professional life in the shadow of his successful and dominant mother, Dr. Vera Perkov (Sabina Ajrula), Lazar is visited by a mysterious old woman with a message for him in an old forgotten dialect that he can not decipher. He seeks translation to the message at a university where he meets Menka (Vesna Stanojevska) who is not who she seems. Menka, the old woman and a man with a baby are all from the old village where Lazar's mother was born and are seeking his help to right a wrong carelessly committed by his mother. Nacev and Ajrula are excellent in their roles but the big surprise of the cast is the acting debut of Stanojevska, an exotic beauty in an erotic role who in her day job away from acting is the Harpist with the Macedonian National Opera and Ballet Orchestra. What a great find by Manchevski as Stanojevska lights up the screen and is sure to have an international acting career if she so chooses. Veteran Italian cinematographer Fabio Chianchetti beautifully and masterly photographs. Kiril Spaseski as art director and David Munns as production designer give this film a great look blending the modern with the old. A great music score from Ryan Shore who was at the film's screening for Q&A. Some Tom Waitts music is also featured in the film. This is a fine film and one of my favorites of the 38 films I saw this year at the festival and I would give it a 9.0 out of 10.
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Rich, rich, rich!
WendyKJ16 September 2007
'Shadows' is a confection of images, evoked smells, fascinating faces, pitch-perfect acting, and unnerving events--with perhaps the best crash scene I have ever seen in film. My observation re: the accident might sound like hyperbole, but the psychology of the scene is sheer perfection. Its details are choice. I felt horrified, too, empathizing with all the people in the reaction shots, but at the same time exhilarated because it all looked so damn interesting! (The film has great cutaways!) I love it when a movie takes control of my moods and this has a driver's opening. There is also some great counterpoint with scenes and music. Really, very masterful. This film is better with a second viewing--like watching The Conformist--one always notices new and fascinating details in the frame, in the psyches of its characters.
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Not seen to today
dragan7338 December 2007
Today evening I watched the Shadows, the third movie of Milcho Manchevski. I believe the title of the movie should be Ghosts rather than Shadows. Even tough I expect it to be a movie about everyday life it turned out to be a horror movie. I believe this is the best Machevski movie so far and it definitely deserves to be at least nominated for Oskar, in the foreign movie category.

In this movie Manchevski uses the same rationality cliché as in his previous movies. However, in Senki this rationality is more stressed which gives good contrasts in the movie. To illustrate this I shall use some scenes from the movie, since I believe that many of you are familiar with them. Manchevski involves the contrasts between the rational and free, the moral and immoral, the individual and the collective, love and hate. The moral and rational win in the end. In a somewhat subconscious way Manchevski stipulates that the possibility of the origin of all the unhappiness lies behind the disobeying of the moral standards and rules. This can be seen in the beginning of the movie, before the doctor's traffic accident, when the doctor drove after having a fight with his wife, who, on the other hand behaved badly towards her child. She was smoking in front of him and even let the child light her cigarette. In the movie we can see various examples of breaking the moral standards. The doctor aimed to respect the morality, even throwing the money amounting to few thousand Euros because they were given to him as a bribe. He did this to respect one of the Ten Commandments – do not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. He didn't want to steal and he was ready to help people even in the case of the old lady, that he took to the hospital. In other cases other doctors would say – I would not bother with her, she is old anyway. Doctor Lazar didn't want to commit adultery as an individual whereas everybody around him did. And, finally when he fulfills the task for the mother – the duty given by the church, to bury the bones or else the ghosts would not have peace. Now, a question arises as to where does this sense of morality arise in today's times of high immorality, when the world is in a chaotic state due to sins. Does this glimpse of moral value erupt only at unique individuals who remain heroes in comparison to the other immoral people. Is the source of sin in the fantasies – as in the lesbian scene between the doctor's wife and Menka? It seems like Manchevski subconsciously suggests that this could indeed be the source of all evil.

In conclusion, I believe that Manchevski would like to send a message through this movie that we should act humane and according to the moral standards for this world to become a better place
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Suspense easily created in this interesting story
johnny-0824 May 2008
Milcho Manchevski became famous after his great movie "Before the Rain". Sadly, here in Croatia he's pretty unknown although one of the best Croatian actors, Rade Serbedzija was really great in Manchevski's before mentioned movie. But now we finally have his new movie in theaters and I must say that I was wondering what this would look like.

"Senki" follows a story of young doctor Lazar Perkov. Lazar has everything, beautiful wife and child, he's a doctor and he even has a nickname 'Lucky'. Soon Lazar's life changes after he survives a heavy car accident; but nothing seems to be the same as it was. His wife and child don't live with him any more and soon he starts having appearances of strange people who are asking from him do to something. Actually to return something what's not his.

We (viewers) are drawn into the story with ease, cause it is very interesting to wait till the end to found out what is happening with our main character. This movie was made in Macedonia (in Skopje and on some beautiful locations at Ohrid lake) but it could easily pass as American one (Manchevski lives in New York and some people who worked on this one are foreigners). Really, this movie doesn't lack a thing. The most important part is of course directing one, and Manchevski is leading us through this movie with 'safe' hands and you can really see why he is such established director. To return on Macedonia; it seems like Manchevski wanted to show both beautiful and ugly sides of his land. Beautiful scenes at Ohrid lake have their contrast in brutal living habits of some people in Skopje (like the place where Blagojce lives).

In central of attention is our main character Lazar (name has Biblical purpose here, but that is also common Macedonian name) who has these appearances of some people after his accident. Who are they, what do they want from him, how is this all going to end? All those questions makes viewers on the edge of their seats waiting for the end. There is also Lazar's connection with his family (specially with his mother) and his love interest in Menka. What I also liked is great creation of suspense and horror (the old lady in the water and all the appearances of these 'people'). Here Manchevski succeeds to make scary scenes, while we can all see how most of the American so called horror movies are not only dull but what's most important without any fear; and Manchevski's attention was to make psychological thriller like "The Sixth Sense" (which is similar in some points with this movie).

So if you want to see one very interesting story watch this very good third movie from Milcho Manchevski. I hope you won't regret it.
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Manchevski delivers... again
milan_xsago15 November 2007
When i first heard about Manchevski's next project to be in the horror genre i was a bit skeptical to be honest. I mean a European horror? What was the last good one you've seen? The hype, however, surrounding this movie here in Macedonia inevitably took over me so i become interested in it too. And after watching it's fantastic trailer, "Shadows" suddenly became my most anticipated movie of the year. So my expectations were as high as they have ever been when i decided to go and see it. And it was worth the wait. It's nothing i thought it would be though. It has Manchevski written all over it, meaning this is not your typical "go and have fun" movie. It's dark and funny, simple on the outside, yet the complexity of the inside is what makes it special. It's a love it or hate it one. It's simply different from everything you have ever seen. It's more of a thriller than horror in my opinion and it's a movie that you have to see a few times to understand it's whole meaning. The symbolics used in it are brilliant(though too often ruined by the obvious explanations) and the cinematography is great. The acting was OK(I liked the performance of Sabina Ajrula as the mother) and the storytelling was good too. I felt like it was more of a collection of scenes than an actual movie to be honest but let's face it, as commercial as this movie sounded this is still in the art department. True, there are too many unnecessary sex scenes that are a distraction from the general idea, but i think it's something that should be overlooked. And even though the theme of the movie is not very original it does a good job by showing those same things, used so often these days, from a different more realistic "angle". All in all it's something that i heartily recommend you to see and despite it's few flaws it's still another great movie from a great director. Friends of thriller horror movies with a deeper even philosophical meaning, you'll be satisfied. 10/10, even though i have to admit not Oscar worthy as some have suggested
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stranger25 May 2009
I have to say that is a great movie and it can be understood only by ones who know the sad story of Macedonian refugee children from Greek Civil War...

Milcho is a great artist and he knows how to make people laugh or cry... Maybe I really did expect more from him in this movie, like - to show us all drama of Aegean Macedonians from Greek Civil War but I was satisfied with seen after the end of the movie! I liked a little horror in it... sexual scenes were like porn in some moments and that was only irritating thing.

BUT in the end of the movie Milcho was a KING for me!!

Great job!
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Did I expect this?
MatildaBroz13 January 2010
Milcho Manchevski is one of my favorite directors. First I watched "Before the Rain" which literally blew me up. I don't know how people from the rest of the world feels like after watching the movie, but I can ensure you that my Balcan blood boiled after The rain. Remarkable story, actors, music. Then came "Dust". I don't feel like comparing those two movies, but Dust was maybe even better. The scene where Corto Maltese is among Turkish soldiers made me laugh as hell! What a crazy idea! So near the Balkan absurd.

But "Senki"? I really don't know what to think after watching it. Maybe I should've written this review sooner, its been a few days now since I saw it. I must say I was surprised seeing that Milcho had made a horror movie. OK, I thought, he sure got talent to deal with that genre... I cant say I'm disappointed, because Before the rain and Dust are just two so perfect movies I could watch them over and over and It'll always be as good as the first time, but I'm not sure thats the case with Shadows. The story indeed is good, and I just love the way Eros and Tanatos dance hand in hand through the movie, but I cant stop thinking this film could've really been good. But it isn't. Somethings missing. The main actor irritated me the most, in the role of Lazar, wasn't at times convincing enough, his expression in some scenes just fits better Spanish soap operas, also his relation to his mother. And what is that stupid scene with the bones in a box at his mothers office and her comment on it? It has some issues that are mind disturbing and food for thought, but generally it looks like a school project of some young wannabe film maker, rather than a movie from the big Manchevski we are used to. It seems kind of to amateurish. Also the choise of music was quite good but the songs were placed in the wrong time. Especially the scene where the main character is making love with a ghost, in the background you hear something like traditional Macedonian/Balcan music...what a disappointment!
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Same old formula
Helena Barbosa25 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The film is just like any other predictable suspense movie, I really did expect something else when I read the synopsis. It doesn't explore the main character dilemmas with his wife, we do not get to understand their relationship very well. His relationship with his mother is shown in a very stereotyped manner, she's a controlling woman that castrates her son, influencing even his career choice, just like a character who came from one of Freud's book. Besides, there's this whole story of what an hypocrite she is, always showing people the good example, but being actually a thief of bones (!!!!) who had no scruples, profaning the dead in their holy sleep.
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Lucian Ghita7 April 2008
I am very disappointed after watching Manchevski's film this evening. I came to the screening with his masterpiece "Before the Rain" in mind but some of the elements that struck me most about the film were endlessly recycled imageries of death/memory/temporal boundaries, exoticized depictions of landscape, identity and cultural otherness, tautological and often overstated motifs of death and desire, which literally drown the spectator into a sea of clichéd, old-fashioned psychological thriller formulas. Don't get me wrong, I like films which foreground their rich, highly-tuned semiotic texture and which interweave symbolic structures skilfully and compellingly. But here this twofold directorial temptation towards the symbolic and the literal doesn't quite pay off cinematically. The music is great, some of the montage is also powerful, the initial spatio-temporal build-up promising, but the film never quite takes off for me. The surreal, nightmarish, ghostly presences that populate the screen and Lazar's troubled mind amount, in my opinion, to some of the interesting cinematic effects of the film.
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Powerful film...
sasho_k12 November 2007
After the underrated "Dust", Milcho Manchevski delivers again with his newest feature "Shadows". The story is told in a linear narration, unlike his previous movies which had experimental narrative approach. The cinematography by Fabio Cianchetti ("Dreamers") is beautiful, such a great looking scenes of Macedonia's landscapes & of the urban places in Skopje.

The music selection fits nice, but the highlight is the main theme, "Eden Baknez" (in English "One Kiss") which is a Macedonian pop evergreen. The horror moments are successfully done in an old-school fashion, but mind you, it is not a horror movie. I believe that fans of European cinema & fans of Polanski, will like it.
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Visually impressive drama very light on horror.
HumanoidOfFlesh12 October 2008
Doctor Lazar Perkov has just returned to his apartment in Skopje from his parents' villa in the lakes district after a year convalescing from a near-fatal car crash.He tries to return to work at the hospital,but his nightmares won't help him.He forgets things,fears his recovery isn't stable and has now had his first visit from the disturbed souls of the dead(the old lady and the creepy looking guy with unbaptized infant).I saw "Senki" during Warsaw Film Festival and I was a little bit disappointed.The film is too long and quite dull in spots.It offers some beautiful photography of Macedonian landscapes,some scenes are pretty moving,but the horror elements are weak.Still there are four lovely sex scenes with a good dose of female nudity to keep me happy.6 out of 10.
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Good photography and that's about it
Angeneer7 July 2008
Manchevski disappointed me with this one. From a guy who has created Before the Rain I was waiting much more. He obviously has talent and it shows with the photography. The Ohrid lake shots are fantastic.

In terms of the plot, Shadows is blatantly plagiarizing Sixth Sense. It is annoyingly similar. The only difference is that there's no twist. We know it all almost from the beginning. Which actually makes it boring. Especially when we get the same shock-effect scene again and again and again.

Now the sex element. Why? We're getting gratuitous sex scenes for no particular reason. Not that I don't like the girls, especially Vesna Stanojevska, but someone should tell our friend Milcho that it has to blend with the plot!

And finally, being from Greece, I have to comment on the "Aegean Macedonians" issue. I couldn't fail to notice some sneaky propaganda attempts in secondary parts of the plot. I mean "exodus" and ...napalm bombs? In ...1913? This is honestly bordering the ridiculous. I could write a whole essay on where these ideas come from (may well be a part of a general nationalistic awakening in our neighbor state), however let me simply mention that the story of "Aegean Macedonians" (a very controversial term by itself) is far more complex than what people are led to believe from this film. I would be grateful if Manchevski left politics and history to people who actually know a thing or two.
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An amnesiac in the Twilight Zone
darcymoore27 February 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A near-death experience gives Dr Perkov the ability to see and feel in the discordant dimension between life and the eternal grave. While the idea is by no means novel, enough new elements, and changes of pace and location, were included to maintain my interest. I particularly liked the exploration of the dysfunctional relationships between Dr Perkov and both his wife and mother. I also enjoyed the, at times rapid, see-sawing between the bright, busy living and the grating and edgy undead. (The fact that it's not always apparent who's horizontal and who should be vertical makes for some humour upon reflection.) And Dr Perkov's ignorance of what the hell is going on, and why, goes one better than the Bruce Willis character in "The Sixth Sense". However viewers who like mounting suspense and sustained terror may be disappointed as the excitement comes in short spurts rather than long draughts. Also some might be irritated, as I was, by Dr Perkov's rather slow awakening, and the high tolerance of people around him as his behaviour (and grooming) degenerated. My final niggle is a question to the director. If characters are shown in closeup talking in a car, why suddenly screen the passing countryside as viewed from a low flying aircraft; especially when it's obviously meant to be from their viewing perspective as you return straight back to the car interior. Several times. The acting was excellent throughout, "Shadows" was beautifully filmed with some mouth-watering shots of the Aegan, and I fell in love yet again with an unattainable woman.
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Bloody silly
wondercritic20 April 2008
This film sounded so interesting in the description I read of it in the guidebook of the Istanbul International Film Festival 2008, and I had to admit I was pretty gripped from start to finish while watching it. But the ending was so disappointing, in fact so immature in its concept, I walked out feeling cheated.

Where the director succeeds is in the area of horror. With the desensitization of world cinema audiences to shock horror and gore, this movie actually comes up with some genuinely scary moments, and for that it scores points. There is also an impressive, quirky performance by the actress in the role of Menka, the mysterious young woman with short dark hair that keeps appearing unexpectedly to entice our hero, "Lucky" Lazar.

But it is ultimately silly, and I think most mature moviegoers could think up a better, more interesting premise for the experiences of the main character. Instead, we get a kind of "Sixth Sense Lite". The director throws in some softcore erotica to keep us entertained, but that does not make for a film worth seeing. Not impressive.
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Not too bad, not excellent either
vladokos3 September 2008
I think that there are problems with the plot regarding the disconnected sex scenes, and the generally missed point in the movie. It could have been made better. I don't think it is a replica of the "Sixth Sense", I see no resemblance in the plot between these two movies. Also, as far as the Aegean Macedonians are concerned, I think the the movie does not mention the exodus of the 1913 and the use of the napalm bombs at that time. It just scarcely mentions the events following the partition of Macedonia. It mentions the exodus during the WW II, and especially during the Greek civil war following the WW II, when indeed there was an exodus of the Aegean Macedonians and the Greek forces and its allies did use napalm bombs to destroy forces of the Communist led coalition, but instead mostly civilians and villages were hit by those bombs. Those who survived were exiled into Eastern Europe and today's Republic of Macedonia (then part of federal Yugoslavia). So those are the facts briefly mentioned. So the movie does not say at all that this exodus happened in 1913, but after 1913 when part of Macedonia was seized by Greece. In any way, most viewers will not focus on that part of the story as those events are just scarcely treated, and implied. They are secondary to the main story. I think it is absolutely unfair and wrong to see that as propaganda.
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