Ildiko Kemeny

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Fateless Review


Excellent
In recently occupied Budapest, 1944, the Nazis are implementing the Final Solution, and the reality of it is understandably difficult to comprehend. Seen through the eyes of Gyura Koves (Marcell Nagy), a 14-year-old Jew sent to the camps not long after his father, Fateless eschews the methods of many Holocaust-set dramas by avoiding the dramatic escalation to the final Nazi roundup. The bricks of the genocide are set in place bit by bit, and almost entirely by ordinary people not cloaked in horror-film SS garb, but who are instead everyday Hungarians thinking they're just following orders or doing what they have to do to survive. The villainy is all around - the film is steeped in death - but rarely personified, as that would seem almost too easy a way out. It's a defining choice on the filmmakers' part and one that elevates this difficult work to near-classic status.

Based on the autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize-winner Imre Kertesz (who also wrote the screenplay), Fateless is for the most part an impressionistic story of one boy's journey through Hitler's death camps. When we first see him, the olive-skinned, shaggy-haired Gyura is your average callow teenager who doesn't seem all that interested in much besides the neighbor girl, and even when his father is sent away to the camps, can barely muster up a tear for the occasion. By happenstance, he's on a bus run by a policeman who's rounding up all the Jews he can for deportation to the camps. While being herded through the city streets to their fate, the policeman catches Gyura's eye after a few of the captives have snuck away and, ever so slightly, he cocks his head as though giving Gyura permission to escape. Frozen either through indecision or incomprehension, Gyura passes up the opportunity and is packed into the train with everyone else.

Continue reading: Fateless Review

Hotel Splendide Review


Good
A cross between Delicatessen and The Road to Wellville, this bizarro flick puts Toni Collette in the role of a reluctant chef at a "resort" situated on a muddy "lake" and devoted to fetishism and overboiled-food to cure its patients of whatever ills them. The laughs come at the expense of a kooky cast of misfits -- unfortunately we're laughing at them, not with them. The movie's attempts at being serious, via the stern looks on Collette's face in opposition to the clearly unhealthy surroundings, come off as shallow -- and jeez, what's with that haircut??? So-so, but Delicatessen does this twice as well and with more flair.
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