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7 reviews in total 
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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A delightful, meaningful portrait of a rather surreal Slovak village, 13 November 2004

I remember seeing this movie on TV, I don't think it was in the cinemas here. I thought it was a wonderful movie - a touching, endearing portrait of the village and its people, which in all light-hearted quirkiness yet raised a whole range of significant points about these Slovaks. Family traditions, the attitude towards/of the local Roma, the lack of opportunities and the philosophical way the locals deal with that, the almost-sweet insistence on disbelieving Warhol was gay ... This is a small town in an outlying region that lives in its own world, by its own logic, that yet reflects the wider reality of life in East-Slovakia. And the movie playfully but effectively underscores that point by highlighting the surrealness of the Warhol Museum in those surroundings ...

Definitely a joy to see for anyone remotely interested in that area of the world or just willing to let himself be taken on a curious voyage ... only if you're a Warhol fan insisting to be provided with yet new facts or interpretations about the man or his art, you might be disappointed, because that's not really what the movie is about.

Fricasse (2003)
5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Brilliantly designed little film, 1 February 2004

The plot is a straightforward enough shtick, though it takes you by surprise at least twice in the few minutes it lasts. But what makes it brilliant is the amazing styling, the props in every shot ironically perfected to the extent where you're both awed and amused. I won't be betraying much when I say that they arrive at a restaurant - and that restaurant! The musicians! Like a decadent dream. Yeh, a pleasant exercise in wittily perfectionizing sheer decadence, that's it.

S1m0ne (2002)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Clever & funny, 20 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Spoilers included, from where it's indicated in text)

We went to see "Simone" (or, sorry, S1m0ne - that's lame, though) tonight, that was a funny, clever movie. I liked the way it was wittily perfected in all kinds of bigger or smaller details. From how, to name two random examples, in the scene where the madman genius with one sick, bandaged eye harasses the despairing director, you see somebody carrying a stage prop all the way in the background: a picture of an eye - to where, in the scene in which the cast of his new film is introduced, virtually, to the lead actress they still believe to be real, and their names are: Dell, Lotus ... "Hi, I'm Hal". That made me smile. Also, how it is so very clever in every detail, yet does not hesitate to go all overboard into the absurd, either - 'live, from her charity tour in the third world' ;-). You can sense they had fun doing that.

Yeh, it was a very clever film, almost too clever: a worthy successor to The Truman Show, enjoyable and just enough out and above the ordinary to pleasantly surprise you for a Hollywood flick, even if it's all a bit insubstantial in the end, and you have to wonder how much of it you'll remember later. And of course, there were a few too many loose ends and incongruous details, too (like -- stop reading here if you're still going to see it -- how we're supposed to believe that the director, the genius who constructed a whole parallel reality so well that a millions-strong audience believes in it, would just ship his disks in a trunk and throw it in the ocean, when I'm already going - but dude, now you can never prove anymore she was fake! - and then the story continues, and hey, he can't prove anymore she's fake - that was lame - and the whole old-style big floppy disk saying "Plague" thing, the effect of which apparently could be overturned by what looked like homegirl pressing enter repeatedly - I mean, really - you ever had a blue screen? That never works for me ... not even when I've only lost the text of a draft film review I hadn't saved ! ;)

It proved me wrong on one count, though, and that always makes me smile, if a mainstream movie does that. Cause like, when 'Simone' first appears in the movie, I was all, well, nice idea - but the whole thing, about the raving reviews and the fainting fans, is just not credible, because she is not actually beautiful, at all, and she looks in fact *very* artificial! But then the story kept unfolding, and the way it satirises how the media and the fans and the business all fall for the illusion, because they *want* to believe in it - "it's easier to fool a hundred thousand people than to fool one" - becomes more convincing, and then you realise - it doesn't matter a iota whether 'Simone' actually looks real or beautiful or not (in fact, the actress playing her must actually have been made to look artificial) - if they all believe it to be so, collectively will it to be so, it is so - that's the whole point, no?


The Cell (2000)
Intense, 18 October 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

-[spoiler included!]- (modified)

Brilliant movie.

I don't like Hollywood movies much, and was sceptical about the film my GF wanted - no, needed - me to see, knowing not much more about it than that it had big stars and was quite successful and some kind of thriller-thing - and that she wanted, no, needed me to see it. I understand why now.

From almost the moment it started I was sitting on the edge of my seat, in one of the most anxious and intense movie experiences I've had. The visual brilliance helped, of course. But The Matrix - that other movie she really wanted me to see - was also visually stunning while stretching your suspension of disbelief - but only scratched at surfaces where this movie just pulled you to it and dragged you right down, to the murkiest depths.

I thought it was believable (I already saw that most other reviewers didn't) - not the "possibility of dying in somebody else's dream" bit, but the story so inventively told through the gimmick, that of the terrified boy within the sick man, one daring out for help while the other snaps out in anger. 'The serial killers sickness as a prolonged cry of pain' is not exactly a novel idea for a story line, but The Cell tells it in a way that grips you, and it does so through the technical-visual brilliance of its bizarre angle. This guy is so sick that no regular 'playing out' of the traumatised-kid-within story would have been credible - only in the very depths of his mind can that kid be found and that the director thus decided - OK - that's where we'll literally go in the movie, then - is pretty impressive. That they stayed an uncomprimising course, going beyond the thriller suspense but not giving in to the temptation to have her succeed in 'rescuing' him in some happy end either, is, too.

The film never gets sappy about the tragedy hidden inside the serial killers head. He is truly and irredeemably rotten, to the core - his violence is beyond the hysteric violence of anger and frustration, it is the studious obsessed violence of a person who's been corrupted, corrupted by terror. The film shows where the terror stems from, adds the why and how come, but without ever excusing him. It's the nightmare of every victim - that his/her assailant will succeed in corrupting him/her to the point where s/he isn't fit for life anymore. Spoilt goods. The films' serial killer is. The film stays consistent in this, refusing the viewer an easy exit into mercy or condemnation. She goes to her limits to where she understands him - but he still has to die.

The cruelty of The Cell is no freak show. Nothing gratuitous about it, it's real enough - all over the place, in minds and lives transformed by pain. Some other reviewer lamented that, unlike The Matrix e.a., the film had nothing "to say about the resilience and optimism of humanity". Well no, and if you go to the movies for your prescription of hope & belief, this is the wrong one to go see - it has something to say about damage, and how the inner world of terrorized kids turn into nightmare landscapes. Instead of telling that story, this film decided to just show those landscapes. Succeeded. Very disconcerting.

3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Good feeling, 13 October 2002

Been a long time since I saw this movie, but whenever I think of it, or even just hear that song from the soundtrack, I feel all happy and <ahem> gay. Funny thing is, I went back to see what I'd noted about it at the time (1991), and apparently I'd only considered it a so-so film!

So, yes, perhaps the story line was a bit flimsy, perhaps all of the movie didnt amount to a whole much ... but if the memory of it still makes me smile after ten years, it must've been a lot better than I'd originally realised! ;-)

Maborosi (1995)
Beautiful and comforting, 13 October 2002

One of the most moving films I've seen. So very beautiful, so very sad. The woman's sadness is not expressed in any great gesture or any close-up, but in the way she stares out over the sea, or carefully handles objects in the house, or even in the way a light shines on the street, as a new life is pieced together around her with patient deliberation. And then, as you've immersed yourself in the delicate pace of the film, sensing every subtle shift of mood, the beauty itself becomes a source of immense comfort, for the viewer as much as for the disconsolate woman. Moved me to tears.

Do see the director's later movie, After Life, too. Also beautiful, surprising, and funny even, too. He must be the gentlest soul.

The House (1997)
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Cold, a little less grey, wordless comfort, almost, 13 October 2002

The House was reviewed a little less favorably than Bartas' earlier films (regular cinemagoers having given up long ago), but personally I found it his most beautiful film yet.

Bartas does tend to repeat himself, it's true. Reviewers love his grim shadowscapes, shot in B/W, of anonymous, more or less lonely, drunk or disheveled men and women stumbling through a haze of cold forests, smoky houses and city wastelands in seemingly arbitrarily fashion - but even they get, I assume, weary of it.

(Contrary to what you might think based on the above, there is nothing gothic about Bartas' depressed realities; and he himself insists, whenever somebody dares suggest a socio-political interpretation, there's nothing Soviet about it either. It's existential. No matter, to me his 'The Corridor' still serves as a brilliant visual summary of the comfortless, hopeless human condition of the former Soviet Union).

But The House, the way I experienced it in any case, showed a whole new step. Not just because there was some color. But because abstract, surrealist scenes of indulgence - eating, caressing - and a suggested presence of tales about the house were added to the mere stumbling in the dark, making the film sensual, almost, without ever lessening the impact of how lost (these) people seem.

More than that. Having suspended, first, your urge to recognize or follow any story line, then, even, your urge to formulate any analysis or interpretation of the images he's providing you with - by the time you're just looking at what you see and *feeling* - suddenly you find yourself watching at a fire outside, on the ice in the lake, and there is a glow, and even the sound of unexplained fireworks, and although it's still lonely, it's *pretty*, and you - well, I was, in any case - are moved, sincerely moved.

That's good, if mere images - without plot, without actors, without explanation or meaning even, can move you, to your bones, almost make you cry in grief or relief, that's pretty good. 10/10.