Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"12:08 East of Bucharest" (Language - Romanian) (2006) - Movie Review

The only question which came up throughout the film of “12:08 East of Bucharest” in me was “Do I really care?” This supposedly claimed dead pan comedy of the distracted realism of the history is never for a moment carries a value of conspicuous care for the characters in its film. The questioning of how a historical event for a country translates to little towns and the people in it is an interesting topic to ponder upon but does it need to be so flat and does it have to suck so bad in its effort of not even vaguely connect ing with its viewers? Whatever the underlying political commentary this film says to be, it is buried beyond recognition for me.

This Romanian film lights up in an ironic fashion showing the street lights of the small town Vaslui going off in a sequence. Up gets up three characters for the day of the 16th anniversary of Romanian Revolution where the Communist regime was overthrown by the revolutionaries. For that small town is the TV station owner and anchor Virgil Jderescu (Teodor Corban) phoning hard to find some one for his show that afternoon. His dingy little TV show for that town remembers the nation’s time sixteen years back by inviting two people who were there on the day December 22nd. Virgil wants to bring up the question whether the Romanian Revolution happened in this small town. To arrive at the show, we see the uneventful banality of these three characters.

Virgil is a rich man involved with his anchor and tries to discipline a distant daughter. And there ends his personal life. The other is Professor Manescu (Ion Sapdaru) a drunkard and due to that a known loaner. He is the guest in the show who will be grilled by Virgil’s half baked annoying journalistic comments and by viewers calling in to say how much of a liar he is to say be present in the Town Square protesting on that day. I can understand that the people does not want to be bare stripped of them for not representing the heroism and the patriotism blindly expected. The other character is an old man Piscoci (Mircea Andreescu). He now and then yells the reality of the town and the facade of a concept of being freed and the importance of revolution as such.

Now I read a comment posted by a viewer in imdb for this film saying that one needs to be a Romanian to understand this film and to grasp the inside jokes. I would definitely agree with that as I can see very many films in my native language failing to translate to suffice its minimal satisfaction in any other language. But I was able to see what the film was trying to do and how desperately it was failing on that. The subtleties of characters linked by events and the mere reason of being the small town are noticeable but honestly did not intrigue me enough to care about it.

I know a colleague of mine at work who is one of those people “seeing movies for entertainment” say an interesting point which is if the film does not make one care of what is happening next, that film sucks. Very valid and blunt point. Sometimes of course there are films which take its time to arrive at the cruciality of its plot to make it worthwhile but I can see where he is coming from. This film would drain the care to watch further. I was asking myself the question of why do I need to keep watching this?

The acting is mediocre and the comedy, well there seem to be an assumption of its humour being good acts self conscious too on it. These three characters have their share of personal problems. Especially Manescu who promises his wife to bring back his full wage only before loaning a bottle for his day and paying off his debt. Now he goes back to a Chinese guy he insults when he is drunk for more money. His life is in the ditches and he finds motivation to come and claim his stand on that day for his freedom. People do not agree with that though.

Corneliu Porumboiu’s film drained the energy out of me. Being a Romanian would sure make me understand it more but will it be a better film than the one I just watched? I can only assume but I would not give that benefit of doubt to this stale and uninteresting film.

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