Tuesday 14 October 2008

12:08 East of Bucharest [2006]

12:08 East of Bucharest
is a satirical and bitterly funny look at one of Romania’s most historic momentsthe violent overthrow of Nicolae Ceausescu. The movie, though, isn’t a historical fact-based documentation; rather, it is a mordant look at how the present rarely keeps track of the past, however important might they be insofar as the country’s historical determination is concerned. On the occasion of the sixteenth anniversary of the fall of the dictator, a small-time television channel owner attempts to find out whether the revolution ever took place at their town, with a Santa Claus dressing senile elderly man and a school teacher who is infamous in his community for his hard drinking, as the guests for the show. To make matters more ludicrous, every member, from the host and the guests to the dubious callers, have things other than the “revolution” on their minds. Filmed on a shoe-string budget and brilliantly enacted by the three protagonists, this is a movie that delights with its wry, deadpan humour and piercing insight. Though Ceausescu is a central theme for both, it hardly bears any resemblance to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days; yet in their unflinching realism, audacity and bravado, they both represent the unheralded glory of today’s Romanian cinema.

Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Political Satire/Farce/Slice of Life
Language: Romanian
Country: Romania


Anonymous said...

Just saw the film. Hilarious and relentless...

Like Forman's Fireman's Ball, this one goes out and out against the present politicians of the country (the two guests represent them I feel), show what media manipulation is and what its role was in creating the illusion of a revolution.

Brilliant that the camera never moves for most of the film as if these guys are trapped in their own mundane life and detached from politics; until the media tries to create drama with its zooms and shakes. The politicians keep making their shreds and paper boats claiming revolution as the media tries to gain from their fistfight...

Works on so many levels. I came across this by accident and I caguely remembered your post and caught on. no regrets whatsoever.

Shubhajit said...

Great summation of the really wonderful movie. Such pinching yet immensely funny humour is really hard to come by - you laugh and yet you cringe.

All the 3 Romanian movies that i've seen has this immensely vivid realism - never afraid to capture reality with such glaring reality, and audacious enough to delve into the darker aspects of their history. Thats what differentiates between good art and moderate works - not just great ability, but also an unmatched fearlessness to tread roads that aren't the most beautiful to look at.

You've made really fine observations about the movie. Thanks again for your comments.

Joel Bocko said...

I've seen this list on various best-of-the-21st-century lists over the years but didn't know what it was about. Now I'm kind of fascinated - I've just added it to my Netflix queue.

Interesting that there are two Romanian films one after the other (obviously do to alphabetical/numerical order, so a concidence, but interesting still given both the obscure and recent nature of these two movies) on your favorites list.

Which, by the way, I've already abandoned my explore-Shubhajit's-archive-alphabetically approach for: I'll comb the top 100 first. I'm going to be doing a favorites series myself in a month (based on the list I made last year); out of curiosity, how do you define "favorites"? Is it simply movies you most want to watch, or movies that most made an impression on you, or is it interchangable with "greatness", movies you admire most? I found in my case it was probably more the second category more than any other - some of the films I've only seen once and am not in a rush to see again (often because I don't want to spoil the impression of the first viewing by too much overexposure when I'm not in the right mood; Day of Wrath is like that - I was blown away at a big-screen screening and though I own it, haven't watched it since). And at the same time some movies I could watch over and over again, like say The Social Network, I didn't even consider including (although to be fair at the time of the listmaking, I wasn't watching it as repeatedly as I would the following spring when it kept appearing on cable and kept getting hooked).

If I were ever to make a follow-up list, I think I would focus more on the first quality, making it all the more subjective, or at least a different type of immediate subjectivity.

What's "great"? What's "favorite"? It's kind of an interesting question.

Shubhajit said...

For me, its more of the third alternative that you've mentioned - movies that I've admired most. When I was much younger, the first & second alternatives probably dominated more, but with the movies that I've watched since then & with increasing maturity I've come to realize that one can admire a movie a lot without really being in "love" with it, if you know what I mean. But yes, that said, a bit of the second alternative still does play a part, because, try what I may, its a tough proposition to be 100% objective while appreciating a movie or considering it among one's absolute favourites.

Thanks a lot Joel for initiating this discussion. And yes, do watch this film - I'd be interested to know your reactions to it.

Joel Bocko said...

Interesting distinction, Shubhajit. For myself it's not so much that I ignore the third category as that I use another term to describe it: "great." Interestingly, I've gotten into a lot of thought-provoking debates/discussions with people who have the opposite tendency to you: rather than calling films they admire as great "favorites," they call films they subjectively enjoy "great" (because of the subjective factor, not alongside of it). It's interesting to see where everyone comes down on this stuff.

Shubhajit said...

Touche! Most people I meet (the ones who are more interested, or wholly interested, in cinema as a means of entertainment, rather than as a serious artform) resort to the same distinction that you observed - referring to "favourites" as "greats" - oblivious to what the word "great" really refers to, or for that matter, uninterested in increasing their sphere of exploration before reaching such definitive judgements.

Earlier I used to get into debates with them very easily; however, with time I've realized the inherent folly of doing so. Its really a no-contest when one engages in a debate with someone who's apathetic to distinguishing between greatness & mediocrity; though not strictly analogous, my experiences are similar when debating on such topics as religion & faith, as well.

Joel Bocko said...

Those encounters are unsurprising to me; what's more surprising is the number of hardcore cinephiles who also don't see or want to see a distinction between 'favorite' and 'great'. in a way, this tendency is made all the easier by the fact that the two categories are bound to overlap for someone who is curious and knowledgable about cinema.

Shubhajit said...

Yes, that's most certainly true. Its a really difficult (and at times, nearly impossible) task to be even aware of those overlaps, leave alone distinguish between the two.

Ana said...

It is a romanian comedy.I don't know the humor is different from one country to another but I hope you will like it

This is a better quality but with subtitle. The first link have subtitle but the quality is low

Ana said...

"This is a better quality but with subtitle"

without subtitle. sorry

Shubhajit said...

Ah, I guess one can't have both the worlds - good quality print & English subtitles :) Nonetheless, thanks a lot Ana for the recommendation - I'm always in for a good Romanian movie. I especially like the dark humour & satire in them. Do provide more such recommendations.

Ana said...

First, my english isn't so good,especially the grammar but i understand approx. 70% and i hope you understand what I wrote in comments :). The present tense is my favourite :)).
I read some of your articles(most about romanian movie) and i saw you like the drama movies, political(more or less) movies. In my opinion romanian movies isn't so good but gusturile nu se discuta:) (De gustibus non est disputandum ) There is no accounting for tastes. Especially i don't like the new wave. I like the old movies before 1989. If you want other recommendations, just tell me. I will wrote here the links with romanian movies, if you will want. Certanely, not all they will be on your taste but you select it. I can also tell you about documentaries about Romania or romanian documentary

Shubhajit said...

First of all, please do not be concerned at all for your English - I can very well understand what you're writing & trying to communicate.

Yes, I've watched a few Romanian New Wave films, and I've liked most of them, even loved quite a few. I found 4 Months 3 Weeks & 2 Days, 12:08 East of Bucharest, California Dreamin', Tales from the Golden Age, Death of Mr Lazarescu quite brilliant. Police Adjective, Tuesday after Christmas, Beyond the Hills (which I'll review in a day or two) are also quite good. So yes, I do love Romanian New Wave, and particularly the darkly humorous political satires, and dramas too.

But, that said, opinions can vary, and I can understand your preferring older Romanian films. Unfortunately, I'm not much aware of the older Romanian films, and hence recommendations would be much welcome.

Thanks Ana.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Ana for the recommendations. I went through their imdb links that you've provided, and they do seem interesting. Hope to watch them sooner rather than later.

Ana said...

I am back with new Movies:)

De-as fi Harap Alb (1965)
Harap Alb is a fictional character from romanian folklore and fairy tales. Ion Creanga is the writer of the book. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_Creanga
The movie don't have a english description on imdb.

Binecuvantata fii, inchisoare (2002)/ Bless You, Prison

Not all movies given by me are recommendations because we have different tastes and i like very few new romanian movies but i concentrated "to reconcile both parties".

Where you want the other links, on facebook private message or here?
The new links in one or two weeks.

Ana said...

Ion Creanga is the writer of the tale

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Ana for the "reconciliation" :) And yes, please do send me the links via FB message - I guess that would make it easier to go back to the links more easily.