September 2nd: Nimród Antal: Part 2

kontroll-newyork

183. Kontroll (Nimród Antal, 2003)

Ah, sorry for the delay but I’ve been more than reasonably busy at the moment. I haven’t actually watched a film since little Seth turned up so I’ll just be catching up on a few reviews that I hadn’t got round to writing when the little chap dropped in.

Anyway, back to the second part of the Nimród Antal round-up. The American born Antal actually returned to his ancestral roots for his debut feature; a blackly comic trip through the Budapest underground. Bulcsú is part of a ragtag crew of ticket inspectors, practically living in the underground network, dealing with the weird and wonderful customers, fighting football gangs, competing with the rival crews, searching for the killer that is stalking the platforms and looking for something, anything to give his life some meaning.

It’s easy to see why this film gave Antal a doorway into Hollywood; it’s witty, lean and very good-looking (like me). The whole film takes place indoors, in the underground network, but it looks exceptional as the dark palette and stark lighting create a kind of timeless metropolitan gothic look. The script crackles with the kind of light-hearted banter a gang of friends creates, something that happens all too rarely in the multi-doctored scripts of bigger budget products. This is believably paired with Bulcsú’s personal journey, one that gives greater scope for some of the more fantastic sequences in the film. Antal shows too that he has the ability to film decent action sequences. There’s a good brisk feel to the whole film but he manages to inject pace and excitement into something as simple as a foot chase, hopefully he can retain this ability as his budgets rise.

I liked Kontroll, I liked it a lot and I’d recommend it to anyone. I’m pretty certain it’s the first Hungarian film I’ve ever seen and I’d heartily recommend that if you see it on the Film4 listings then you make an effort to record and watch it. You won’t be disappointed.

Unfortunately my brain is a little fried and I don’t really think I’ve managed to communicate why Kontroll is such a good film, I’ve not done it justice, so I’ve made a one-off decision to stick the trailer on for you to get a little taste…

September 1st: Nimród Antal: Part 1

vacancy

180. Vacancy (Nimród Antal, 2007)

This is the start of a little double bill. You might not have heard of Nimród Antal before but you will hear more about him in the coming years as he has just signed with Robert Rodriguez’ Troublemaker studios to direct the reboot (possibly a prequel) in the Predator franchise. Well, upon hearing this news I thought it’d be about time to see what he has directed so far.

Vacancy is Antal’s American debut and it’s a pretty assured way to make your start. David and Amy Fox are a couple on the verge of divorce, their relationship has dissolved to the point that they just snipe at each other all the time. During the course of a car journey home from their relatives David takes a short-cut and the car breaks down, they opt to spend the night in a strange little motel and wait for the garage to open in the morning. When watching one of the strange slasher videos left by television they notice that the room where these people are being brutally murdered looks very familiar indeed.

Watching Vacancy feels a little like watching an audition tape from a director on the up. The set-up is quick and efficient and the script works in creating a believably on-the-ropes relationship. When the action starts and the locals start to torment the couple, Antal gets to show off his repertoire. He has a fantastic ability to use the camera in limited spaces, so despite Vacancy predominantly taking place within the confines of two or three motel rooms and a network of tunnels the tension never dulls. On this evidence Antal should be able to ratchet up some tension with one of the best loved creature features from the 80s. As for Vacancy – it’s a taut, nasty little film that doesn’t outstay its welcome and has the decency to avoid a trite ending.