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Who knew that annoying passengers could be so fun?

  • Feb 22, 2011
*** 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; and it's almost as if he's trying very hard to revive those sorts of films. I thoroughly respect his work here. I have seen most of Antal's other films, and none of them are as good as this one here. I guess I was impressed so much by this film because it felt like an experience rather than a story. The plot itself is so damn confusing that it's almost not worth getting wrapped up in, at least not on a complex note. But if you allow your senses to look into this film and what it sets out to do, then "Kontroll" can be very entertaining. I guess I must give it bonus points for being good, since not many thrillers can be. But Antal knew what he wanted to do here; and that's why I must applaud the final product. The first two acts of the film are amusing and quite great; although the problem here is that the third act just gets annoyingly repetitive. With that being said, there's enough visual style and awesome music to keep this film going; and as a thriller, it keeps going for a good amount of time. As a genre film, it's nigh spectacular; and there's little to complain about when it comes down to the film's craft. It's an easy film to recommend; given the fast pacing, strong acting, and solid directing. There's not a whole lot to bash when it comes to the film; it's a pretty straight shooter as far as I'm concerned. And it's also one of the more thrilling entries to the "thriller" genre that I've seen recently; as well as the first full-out Hungarian film I've seen in my life-time. It seems like every nationality has style and artistic wit except for us Americans. Oh, how strange; but maybe we have Hollywood to blame for that. It's good to see that "Kontroll" is not a product of Hollywood; it is a film accompanied by artistry. I liked it; and given my recommendation, I hope that you do too. It's not flawless filmmaking; but there's a nice blend of humor and intensity going on that I just couldn't resist. This film has charm; and enough of it to be called absorbing. I can live with that.

A ticket checker named Bulscu and his pals are working in a Metro System. This is virtually the only place they actually walk about in for the entire film; and believe me, they do plenty of walking. For the first good half of the movie, they all do some hilarious ticket checking; just doing their job in a particularly funny fashion. I found it pretty entertaining for a lot of the time, but "Kontroll" is yet more complex than most thrillers. The characters are endearing, and some of them even have inner demons that they need to overcome. There's also a mysterious, hooded figure who stalks the tracks. He might be the one who has been pushing passengers in front of the trains lately; and this has become a problem for our hero. There are a lot of problems that each character has to work around; and it's OK for the film to become confusing at times. In fact, a lot of it doesn't make sense, and for good reason. The film doesn't so much want to "tell a story", but it seems as if it just wants to give the viewer an experience. The soundtrack and the visuals help make this film a psychological delight for all those who can dig it. It's a cool little foreign thriller; and I can get in to that. I've seen good thrillers, and I've seen good foreign films (but hasn't everyone?). This film is both, and that is why it's a fun viewing experience for all who take the ride. It's a recommendation from me.

Unlike a lot of Antal's other films, this one has characters. And it also has good actors to portray them. While there's' absolutely nothing in this film that could possibly make the story, acting, characters, of stylistic elements memorable, I think that each individual was smartly written. You've got Sandor Csanyi as your lovable hero; who shares much of the spotlight with his co-stars (which is a good thing, considering it's not always his show being run). Many of the actors may not be recognizable, although that doesn't really matter considering how good they are. This is a well-acted and well-cast movie; bearing interesting characters with interesting personalities. I could definitely enjoy myself given that particular aspect. There are not a lot of films out there (like this one) which have the gift of entertaining actors. But this is not ordinary thriller.

A lot of films can be stylish, but they all lack substance. This is not one of those films; in fact, "Kontroll" is at best when it's using its stylish elements. The film makes good use of a cool soundtrack and excellent cinematography. The film feels good, and most of all, it feels cool. It's a hip movie if anything; and for once, I'm actually OK with that. I usually complain when a movie tries to be cool because frankly, it probably isn't cool. Most of the time, it's probably just dumb. But this film is not dumb; it's actually smarter than you would think. I enjoyed the film because despite its confusing depths, it made me think for a while. It has some rough edges no doubt, but I can get around all that. I chose to see things from Antal's point of view. I saw what he was trying to make with this movie; a unique film that is meant to be watched rather than told. It does not have a great plot, but there's enough humor and wit packed in this punchy director's piece to make it worthwhile. I suppose a lot of credit is due on Nimrod Antal's part, since he directs this film so darned well. He seems to have a knack for what he likes visually; but not so much a knack for pure brilliance. I feel that "Kontroll" could have been great if it hadn't had its little boring moments, but no luck there. Otherwise, it's a fun and quirky comedy-thriller. It has intensity, and most of all, it has a soul. It's a punch of a film; a movie that hits you hard. It takes you for a ride and doesn't let you leave until the very end, and there's something I both respect and admire about that. As I said, the film exists to be cool. But in doing so, it is a success, and it deserves to exist in this world. It's not generic, and it's rather fresh for a modern thriller. As far as those go, it's one of the better ones I've seen. I guess there's plenty to look out for there.

We genuinely watch thrillers because like a good horror movie, they have the power to frighten, indulge, or even move us. This is not a thriller that hits you emotional; but it does have a stylish and artsy kick to it that I enjoyed looking in to. I guess you either like this movie or you don't; it's unique but definitely flawed. But aren't most films? This is one of those moments where I feel the best we can do is let the film exist. It is what it wants to be, and accomplishes just about everything that it wants to accomplish. As someone who's seen a lot of bad thrillers, this one stands out at least somewhat. I recommend it because in terms of style, it is a masterpiece. In terms of thrillers, it is almost great. It is spectacularly crafted, well-paced, and worth seeing by all means. There's enough good to overcome the bad in this situation; and I like how Antal seems to respect his audience rather than bombard them with ridiculous and annoying clichés. He has made a respectable product; a howling mad success of a film. It's not one of 2004's best films, but I sure as hell enjoyed the skill that went into making it. The film is set entirely in the Metro Station, and that alone should make it unique. But what Antal provides in terms of substance is what makes it an entertaining package, and you know what; I didn't mind it one bit. In fact, I quite liked it. I am not sure if it will fare well with everyone, but when it comes to personal taste, I was entertained by the thing. Now if only Antal could make a film like this again. It is very doubtful that he will, although there is always room for ever-so-wishful thinking. I suppose there always will be.

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February 23, 2011
Excellent review once more Sir
February 25, 2011
More Kontroll reviews
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 …
review by . September 06, 2005
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!    …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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