Sunday, January 01, 2006

Kontroll Freak

To ring in the new year, I watched the Hungarian thriller (?) Kontroll. The first feature by Nimró Antal follows Budapest subway controller Bolcsú through what would be day to day life. Of course - taking its cues from the late 90s plethora of running to techno music Rave movies (Run Lola Run, Go, Groove) - life is not quite day to day and his daily encounters are met by charmingly (or at least intended to be) quirky people and violent aggressors. But then he doesn't exactly hold the most favorable of jobs. The films casts his crew of coworkers as exceedingly accentric (sometimes painfully so). The writing is pretty much tight throughout and like the film I recently watched, Cabin Fever, the opening thirty minutes are an absolute delight, but script flaws soon get the better of the movie (i.e. introducing "regular" counseling session at only one point in the film, obviously played for laughs). The structure also leaves much to be desired. Beginning as a thriller with a black hooded man pushing people under metro trains, the film soon becomes selfinfatuated and all but forgets this plotline, that is until the director runs out of immediate quirks. And these are the good moments. Because, as we discover during one chase sequence, the movie does contain elements of the frat movie. But the director, in time, allows those moments to even grow acerbic sides culminating in a moment where the dark and the frat meet in a occurance you see coming from a mile away, but does not lessen in any way the horror one feels watching it.

The film's aesthetic certainly deserves its own paragraph here. For even when the film drags its feet in uninteresting plot twists (and there really are quite a few) it redeems itself with its cinematography. The shots of the underground (we never see the surface) are visually composed like some Becher-kinds mural photograph. The lighting too, deserves top billing in the film as the flickers of neon tubing resonate more strongly than any one of the film's many actors. It always comes inwaves of the greenish light, and if I were to state a reason to watch the film, this would be it. I mean this as no insult, for the lighting really is worth the price of a rental. And even though the plot is disjointed and confused, it is quite possible that Antal will provide more interesting and restrained works of cinema. Just please, don't lose the look.


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