Thursday, September 16, 2004


What is surely the 'Clerks' of this years festival. Kontroll comes out of nowhere. It opens with a man reading a statement to the effect of: The following film is fiction. This is in no way a reflection on how the Budapest subway system operates. Any incidents are unrealated symbols of the directors story.
What follows is a movie that is a look into the world of the denizens of the Budapest underground. The characters that ride the midnight trains and the Kontroll officers which check to make sure they have a ticket (Budapest transit works on the honor system of buying a ticket to board the trains without gates).
The officers are a motely collection that without the arm-bands they wear, you couldn't tell them from the late-night customers. They are anti-social oddballs which try to enforce order in a chaotic environment where it seems that nobody actually pays for transit.
There is a book by Malcom Gladwell called the Tipping Point. One of the chapters in that book talks about the high murder rates in the New York Subway system in the late 1980s. The head of transit and chief of police cleaned up the problem by blitzing the subway system. But not in the way you would think. Instead they spent all their efforts painting over the graffitti and busting fare jumpers. This worked, and crime rates fell through the floor. Why did this work? Because in an environment of chaos, broken windows, graffitti and where nobody pays, people lose the perception of control and order and anarchy ensues. This feeling (and it is addressed in the movie) is one of the many layers of Kontroll.
There is a love-story component, a mystery-thriller involving subway jumpers and small character moments for each of the five enforcers. The joy in the movie is the immersive envorimnent of the underground which is carried off note-perfect. An unusal pace and fantastic cinematography (comeing to a peak with an full-on Rave on one of the platforms) is invigorating. Another one of the best of this years festival.


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