Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Hany [2014]

MPAA (UR would be R)  iDnes.cz (2 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CSFD.cz listing*
FDB.cz listing*

Actualne (J. Gregor) review*
CervenyKoberec.cz (E. Bartlová) review*
iDnes.cz (M. Spáčilová) review*
Lidovky (M. Kabát) review*

Hany [2014] [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]* (written and directed by Michal Samir [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*) is a highly stylized young adult (twenty something) oriented film from the Czech Republic that played recently at the 2015 - 18th Chicago European Union Film Festival held at the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago.  American viewers would find thematic similarities in the film with the young adult (twenty something) oriented "post apocalytic drama" The Purge [2013] and stylistic similarities (notably with its "long/extended shot" camera work) to Bird Man [2014].

Combining the two - thematics and stylistics - one could perhaps call the film a Czechified / sanitized (to largely PG-13 levels) rendering of the "in the years immediately following the collapse of Hollywood's (censorship) production code," _intended to shock_, classic Clockwork Orange [1971].  The current film does disturb, at times, but it does not _shock_, much.  Now, this _isnt' necessarily bad_.  I'm just intending this assessment to be a statement of reality: The current film does not have the same bite as the "post Apocalyptic" / "post collapse of the previous social order" Hollywood productions mentioned above.  On the other hand, one could, largely (but then not completely... there are a couple of scenes near the end that would not be teen appropriate), take one's older kids / teens to see this movie ... and certainly hipper "older parents" could have a good discussion with their 20 year olds about the film as well.

The film's camerawork alone could interest a fair number of cinema lovers: The entire film, set "one night" on a street with a trendy/hipster bar that featured "poetry reading," gives the impression of  having been made with only two extended shots, the first extending for about 90% the film with a clear and conscious break occurring at the film's climax, the second (also extended) shot taking the film to its end and serving as something of film's "epilogue" / "coda."  Still interestingly enough, I recently saw and reviewed a recent Iranian film, Fish & Cat (orig. Mahi va Gorbeh) [2013], set outdoors by a lake in the context of an annual regional "kite festival" that used the same "one shot" technique (and, in fact, was choreographed in such a way that it really was done in said "one shot" even though it apparently took several tries to make it all the way from beginning to end).  I admit, I enjoy this kind of cinematic amusement ;-).
Back to the film:  It begins somewhat ominously with the radio announcing that some sort of a civil disturbance was taking place in town, with residents asked to remain at home until authorities give the all clear that it's "safe" again to go outdoors.  But it's instantly clear that said "ominous warning" was being (rightly or wrongly, as the film progresses, one could really go either way...) utterly ignored by the young attracted to this street / bar with its care-free atmosphere.

The film then, which advertised itself as something of a commentary on the life of the young / 20-somethings today in the Czech Rep, features some rather easily recognized young adult / twenty-something archetypes:

There's the "nerd" / "mamma's boy" Egon (played by Michal Sieczkowski [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*) who along with fellow, more techie "nerd" Dušan (played by Marek Adamczyk [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*) accompanying him on ... laptop :-) ... who begin the film at said "hip/ trendy poetry bar" presenting a reading from Egon's recent new play called "Marquis de Sad" (yes, that's "Sad" not "Sade").  The play's apparently about a French count who was NOT a sadist but ... just ... sad ;-).  On one level, it's hilarious ;-).   On the other ... let's face it ... would it surprise ANYONE that these two poor guys, one with HIS OWN MANUSCRIPT in hand, the other "accompanying him" with music ... from his laptop ... WOULD BE UTTERLY IGNORED by the bar's patrons (drinking their beers, scoping the establishment to see who's coming in/out who'd be "hit-on-able") as poor Egon recited from ... his play about "Marquis de SAD" ;-).

Then there's, of course, the hedonistic / nihilistic "A-hole" Jiří (played by Jiří Kocman [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*) who's the opposite of Egon.  He comes into the bar ... to sell drugs.  People know him, know that he's an often racist A-hole.  But they know that if they want coke, heroin or ecstasy, he's the guy to go to even as he makes fun of them as he steps into a backroom to "make the deal" / take their money.

Then there's Hana (or one of the "Hanas" in the film, played here by Hana Vagnerová [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*).  She finds herself between two guys, NO NOT between Egon / Dušan who are in their own worlds but between (1) a different more realistic "nice guy" Martin (played by Róbert Nižník [IMDb] [CSFD]* [FDB]*), a Slovak, with whom she's had a long-term relationship (but despite being good, responsible, etc (and perhaps a little on the poorer side...) she's getting "bored" with AND then (2) the above mentioned Jiří, who yes is an A-hole, with whom she did not see any possible long-term relationship with, but ... "even if he certainly wasn't "Mr. Right" he _could_ serve as a "Mr. Tonight" (even if she does have the "Good Martyr" / "Martin" waiting for her back home ...).

So that then sets up the conflict ... even as people come in and out of the bar and the camera follows the people coming "in and out and all about..." throughout the film to tell the story.

Of course that "civil disturbance" that the young people at this hip / trendy bar on this hip / trendy street have dutifully ignored eventually comes to this street corner.  What happens?  Well guess ... ;-).  It's actually quite good / insightful ...

And so then, the story plays out ...

All things considered, I think the story is a good one.  Yes, it's NOT that shocking, but it does have a point and one that young people in their 20s (and perhaps their parents) could talk about afterwards.  All in all, good job!

* Reasonably good (sense) translations of non-English webpages can be found by viewing them through Google's Chrome browser.

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