Film Fest: Hungary and Poland (14 cents)

Two more films shown at the DC International Film Fest.  Here are my thoughts:

1.  A Hungarian movie, “The Investigator”, could have taken place anywhere.  An assistant pathologist in a Budapest hospital, an asocial loner, is concerned about his mother dying of cancer.  The best treatment is available in Sweden, but he can’t afford the cost.  He is approached by a one-eyed man, “Cyclops”, who offers him a substantial amount of money if he would ‘eliminate’ someone for him.  The pathologist, a man used to death and emotionally repressed, agrees, believing that this is the one chance to save his mother.  The murder comes off without a hitch, it appears.  Until the police discover something not known to our anti-hero: the murdered man is the half-brother of the murderer.  This establishes the basis for the plot, as the “murderer” becomes the “investigator”.  Was it a first class movie?  No, but it carried you right along, even though the ending was somewhat pre-destined, as everything led in only one possible direction.

2.  Much different is “Scratch”, a Polish movie, which could only come out of a formerly Communist European country.   Here, nothing really points anywhere, and many plot questions remain unanswered.  But again, you are carried right along, as a Polish biology professor, married for 40 years, is sent a mysterious video cassette (you never find out who sent it) showing an interview with a Polish historian, discussing her late father, who had spent time in prison for anti-Communist activities.  The historian claims that the Polish secret police sent one of their own to seduce and marry the biologist, and report back on activities of his father in law, and his father in law’s associates.  The husband of 40 years denies all of this, but the marriage, and the mind of the biologist are both destroyed, as she descends into paranoia and depression.  The movie is a mystery without answer, and a character study.

Glad to have seen both, and happy to recommend both, each has its limitations and faults.  Both both keep you engrossed, in part because of strong performances by the full casts, and each is unorthodox enough to making viewing them very interesting.

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