Monday, May 18, 2009
Incredibly good movie from first time Bulgarian director Javor Gardev that definitively is not for all audiences as has a style that is totally art with many beautiful to watch scenes even when what’s happening may not be beautiful at all. This black and white film is truly visually outstanding with fantastic compositions, excellent framing, great attention to details and a camera that moves objectively and subjectively into mostly disgusting to watch situations, but honestly all become beautiful to watch if you really appreciate great cinema.
The story has been told many times, but never like this. Is about a heist that goes wrong and Moth ends up in jail accused of a murder he didn’t committed and he is covering the real killer. He does it for love of Ada (aka Mantis) as he wants her to be well kept, as she’s pregnant. Everything happens before the communist takeover of Bulgaria. Released in the ‘60’s for good behavior, Moth only finds that freedom sometimes is worst than prison when you have unsolved situations. Well, that’s the story if the filmmaker had chosen to tell it chronologically; but luckily for us viewers, he intertwines time as he pleases telling Moth story in the most interesting way you can imagine or perhaps not. You really have to see this movie for the non-linear storytelling technique.
Then the story is peppered with little tales, most really hilarious and a few really gross, that interrupt the storytelling only to make it a true roller coaster. Moth voice narrates some parts and is truly remarkable, as what he narrates most of the time has no relation to what is or will happen, but it’s relevant for the story line. You really have to hear/see this.
Also some of the images and a few secondary characters are really Fellinesque – alike to some early Fellini films- and once in a while some very Antonioni scenes will appear; some are comparing images and narrative style to Tarantino, but not me and I definitively do not agree with them. The style feels and looks more European noir with touches of neorealism as for me the entire movie and story is an oblique metaphor to what happened in Bulgaria during and after the dark decades. You really have to see the oblique magic realism of this film. By the way Zift is a name derived from the Arabic zift or dzift, meaning “bitumen” or “black pitch” once a popular chewing substance among the poor in Bulgaria; the word is also claimed to be a slang reference to shit. And believe me you will literally see a lot of the last word, shit, in the film; so if you decide to give it a try, I suggest to prepare yourself before watching.
This film really blew my mind in many levels and it was about time, as lately I haven’t been lucky finding great movies. For sure I’ll follow this director that won several awards including the Best Bulgarian Feature Film at 2009 Sofia fest, Silver Saint George for Best Director at 2008 Moscow fest, was Bulgaria submission to the 2009 Academy Awards and others that you can find if you browse the blog.
I have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to watch this film and the wait was truly worth it, as definitively this is an unforgettable and remarkable film even when I know that can be gross (or too strange) for many, but the style is so great that you don’t really mind what’s shown on the screen. When was over I wanted more, as I was totally mesmerized. Obviously is not for all audiences and I strongly recommend it for those that enjoy great visual and cinematic experiences with fabulous storytelling. Ah! mainly for those who enjoy art, art house and serious cinema (all combined in one film!).
Watch trailer @ Movie On Companion