Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Quo vadis, Aida? takes place over a few days in July 1995, in the small town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if that date in connection to that place has any meaning to you, you already know more or less exactly what kind of movie you’re in for. And also, maybe you don’t. […]

In truth, it doesn’t matter to me that it’s a Romanian film (I tend to love Romanian films), a dark comedy (most of my favorite Romanian films are dark comedies), a story about totalitarian politics (my favorite Romanian dark comedy, 12:08 East of Bucharest, is about the nation’s history of totalitarianism), or as the cherry […]

He doesn’t get as much press or awards attention as Cristian Mungiu, but I dunno: Corneliu Porumboiu will always be “my” Romanian film director, somehow. His feature debut, 12:08 East of Bucharest is one of my favorite comedies of the 2000s and one of my favorite satires ever; and now, ten years later and with […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/16 & 10/17World premiere: 3 January, 2013, Croatia On one of the Dalmatian islands, a small town has been slowly deflating for years; the death rate far outstrips the birth rate, and for the most part, the townspeople seem disinterested enough in preserving their little corner of the world to do a […]

Categories: balkan cinema, ciff, comedies

Screens at CIFF: 10/12 & 10/15World premiere: 19 May, 2012, Cannes Film Festival We do not dislike Beyond the Hills – this is as much an affirmation as a preemptive clarification. It would be quite impossible to dislike in which so much, for such a large part of the running time, is amazing. Nor do […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/9 & 10/14 & 10/15World premiere: 18 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival It’s certainly too early to confidently announce the death of the Romanian New Wave, especially with Corneliu Porumboiu and Christian Mungiu still alive and well, but it doesn’t take a doomsday prophet to find that the country’s national style has […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/8 & 10/9World premiere: 19 November, 2010, International Documentary Festival Amsterdam We all know, I should think, that one of the things most important to any authoritarian leader is the strict control of media; and that every dictatorial government of the 20th Century worth its salt had a dedicated state-run movie studio […]

Deprived of context, the first scene of Yorgos Lanthimos’s Dogtooth, winner of the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, makes pretty much no damn sense and it is nevertheless somehow discomfiting and unnerving – and as matter of fact, context doesn’t end up mattering very much, for although we learn a […]

Happily, my second run-in with the Romanian New Wave at the 46th Chicago International Film Festival was a great deal more successful than my first. The fourth film from writer-director Radu Muntean – though the first given even the remotest push amongst we English-speakers – Tuesday, After Christmas is not at the tip-top of the […]

Romanian filmmaking, as everybody with more than a passing interest in international cinema already knows, has blown up in the last few years, becoming the hot New Wave of the moment (and in the process, robbing the nascent Korean New Wave of oxygen; but now is not the time for that). All the best festivals […]

From among the Video Nasties In the special features of a very carefully and lovingly assembled 2002 DVD – the film’s first legitimate release in several years – director Nico Mastorakis admitted that the motivation behind his debut and most famous work, 1976’s Island of Death, was entirely financial. One year before he started making […]

The best film (to my eyes) of the current wave of Romanian films remains 12:08 East of Bucharest, the first feature by director Corneliu Porumboiu. A political satire at heart, it shares the aesthetic of glacially slow long takes that have defined that country’s art-house hits in the last five years with a sense of […]