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Two tough kids and a tougher grandmother survive the war
A NAGY FŰZET = The Notebook, Hungarian, 2013. Viewed at New Hungarian film week, Budapest November, 2014 Hungarian director János SZASZ (56) does not make many films, but when he does, it's always one he has thinking about for years, has been working on for three or four years, and is worked out to the minutest last detail. In between films he is a very busy theater director which is one reason why he is so adept at handling actors. His most recent film, "The Big Notebook", came out in 2013 and was one of the prestige Films of the year, shown at numerous festivals. I was only able to catch up with it at the New Budapest Film. Week and was not disappointed. Immediate reaction:
The Third film of the day, the Nightcap that ended around Ten thirty, was Janos Szasz' arty WW II period Epic, "The Notebook" (A nagy füzet), the only really big Hungarian film of 2013, that I have been hoping to catch up with all year. Classically filmed as are all of János's films, this is a harrowing tale of two teenage twin boys who are left by their mother with an extremely stout, blunt, and tough-as-nails grandmother out in the country so they can survive the war. Their father who is called off to war at the very beginning leaves them with a Large Notebook -- whence the title -- instructing them to record all of their experiences while he is gone. This they do dutifully even when they are evacuated to granma's country house. However, grandma has not seen her daughter, their mother, for twenty years, is very resentful that she left and made no effort to contact her ever since. Only grudgingly does she allow her estranged daughter to dump these kids, her biological grandchildren, on her. The rest of the story -- the bulk of the film, deals with how these resourceful kids cope with a very bad situation. very bad --- part of it under German military occupation, and how grandma eventually accepts them and they her -- but only after years of extremely brutal mutual antagonism and other harrowing experience
Eventually heavy set grandma dies of a stroke, or rather is assisted in her death by the boys who's earlier hate has finally turned into respect for this incredibly feisty old woman. Left me drained -- the kind of drain You feel after taking an emotional roller coaster ride through a fully satisfying picture. more details later, but thus is one of the new recent Hungarian biggies. Hefty 69 year old actress Piroska Molnár, who is memorable from her very first scene in the picture playing the estranged acid-tongued country grandmother, is currently one of the busiest "Leading ladies" in magyar pictures. She was equally memorable in the highly controversial Hungarian Film Szemle winner TAXIDERMIA in 2006, and Will also be seen here later this week in the lead role of the surrealistic chiller FREE FALL.
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