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A Darkly Brilliant Film from Nimród Antal

  • Sep 6, 2005
  • by
Rating:
+5
Ingredients: a bizarre story by Jim Adler and Nimród Antal, a setting completely confined to the compression world of the Budapest subway system, a group of excellent actors, a cinematographer that knows how to take advantage of this amazing setting and push it to its limits, a musical score that knows exactly how to underline the dark comedy, terror, and degenerate feeling of the film. Results: one of the finest films to come out of Central Europe directed with complete 'control' by Nimród Antal!

KONTROLL is the name of those seedy men who patrol the metro guaranteeing that all passengers are ticketed. The dark order of these Kontrollers is headed by an even darker order of hierarchy whose problems are not limited to enforcement of the ticketing laws, but also preventing the ongoing problem of people jumping (or being pushed...) onto the tracks of the blindly deadly trains. The Kontrollers are divided into groups, each group covering a different sector of the metro. And as this metaphor for society plays out, each group is in competition with the other.

One man garners our interest - Bulcsú (Sándor Csányi) a man weary of his job and the degradation associated with being a Kontroller, so caught up in his life that he never leaves the underground, sleeping and existing in the subterranean world of darkness and artificial light. The film follows his camaraderie with his 'group', his moments of enlightenment as he meets a pretty woman in a bear suit who just happens to be the daughter of the conductor of his assigned train, and his dangerous encounters with the leader of his 'rival group' with whom he resorts to games of 'chicken' in running through the dangerous tunnels as trains approach. Ultimately he becomes involved in the chase of a hooded spirit who is thought to be pushing innocent people to their death in front of oncoming trains.

The story, while dark in every sense of the word, in Antal's facile hands mixes comedy with the drama in the way that Shakespeare provided comic relief for his most dramatic plays. While the real star of the film is clearly Sándor Csányi (he has earned awards for his multifaceted portrayal of a man near madness), special mention is extended to Lajos Kovács, Zoltán Mucsi, and the entire ensemble. The film may be difficult for some to follow or to stay with as it meanders around in the dark, but the rewards are plentiful. This is one of those films whose metaphors visualize post mortem. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp, September 05

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More Kontroll reviews
review by . February 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     So I guess the deal with directors such as Nimrod Antal is that they have one good film and then they just go on and succumb to Hollywood's clichéd madness. I always knew that Antal was a director of talent, skill, and style. "Kontroll", his first film, proves that he is every one of those things. While it's far from perfect, "Kontroll" is a cool, hip, and suitably stylistic little thriller from Hungary. It's sort of like Antal's nod to past art-house thrillers; …
review by . May 25, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
In the Prologue, the narrator relates that his friend director, Nimrod Antal, has made a film about the struggle between good and evil. Using the Hungarian subway system as symbol, they jump start `Kontroll,' (Control), an innovative movie almost exclusively taking place on or near train platforms. In which case, the underground system is hell on earth with its Satan being a black hooded hoodlum morbidly seeking victims to push onto the tracks to collide with oncoming trains. Surveillance cameras …
review by . May 04, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Music, cinematography, acting, characters     Cons: Mystery plot not much of a mystery     The Bottom Line: Don't view this as a thriller but as a mood piece and it is worth your time.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot. Kontroll, like Donnie Darko (which I have also reviewed), belies classification. Unless we create a classification for mood pieces, like ambient music, these movies will continue …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2004 Academy Awards, writer-director Nimrod Antal's debut is a thrilling, claustrophobic, wild ride through the subway system in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Sandor Csanyi stars as Bulcsu, the leader of a small crew that patrols the underground making sure that passengers have purchased a ticket. However, the men actually have little power themselves, so many people that they stop humiliate them, physically and verbally abuse them, and easily run away. Within this small world, Bulcsu and his gang, which includes the older Professor (Zoltan Mucsi), the narcoleptic Muki (Csaba Pindroch), the diminutive Lecso (Sandor Badar), and the young and innocent Tibi (Zsolt Nagy), battle Gonzo (Balazs Lazar) and his far more successful group of ticket checkers. In one of the film's most exciting scenes, Bulcsu and Gonzo go railing--racing down the tracks in between two moving trains. Meanwhile, a mysterious hooded person in black is pushing people in front of train...
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