JULY 20// MALI (dir. A. Nuić) and THE MINER (dir. H. A. Wojcik Slak)
Dark and amusing, funny and intelligent at the same time, Mali is truly a film worth watching. At times filled with a lot of guy talk, accompanied by heavy drinking and narcotics abuse, this film also has a more meaningful message, all wrapped up with a great cast, and excellent directing and cinematography. Antonio Nuić has managed to make a riveting 90-minute experience, and Frano Dijak and his son Vito have proven to be a very good combination.
Wow. The best film I’ve seen this year in Pula. Brutal and once again totally manly, but it seems that Pula Film Festival is brutal and manly this year. I guess it’s because of the World Cup. Suspenseful, realistic. The only objection is to the same actors in the same roles all the time, and I don’t mean the father and son Dijak. To them, hats off.
Antonio Nuić is better suited for drama (Donkey) than comedy (Life is a Trumpet), and if we add ‘crime’ to get crime drama, then we have a triumph at the end of the festival. Mali is the big, probably the biggest film from Nuić, which sticks out from the (premiere) competition in Pula. This is a true, pure, pureblood film, with all of the elements a true film entails (direction, screenplay, acting, cinematography…)
JULY 19// DEEP CUTS (dir. Dubravka Turić, Filip Mojzeš, Filip Peruzović) and THE EIGHTH COMMISSIONER (dir. Ivan Salaj)
Deep Cuts is an endearing omnibus that at times will make you laugh and bring you to the verge of tears. Still, other than Cherries, which is extraordinary, the other two stories seem inconclusive. Slow, sometimes even illogical. We have to tip our hats to the child actors, who are not easy to find; young Roko Glavina is a diamond who was completely unexpected, and I am looking forward to his future roles.
Three short films. The first one is excellent. A Brokeback Mountain type of a thing in the Dalmatian Hinterland. The second one is somewhat weaker. It deals with peer violence. The third one is lame. A confusing and a poorly told story. The child actors are better than in most Croatian children’s films.
The Eighth Commissioner
A better island film than Comic Sans. A bit too long. Borko Perić deserves to get the Golden Arena.
JULY 18 // FOR GOOD OLD TIMES (dir. Eduard Galić)
For Good Old Times
For Good Old Times is a film to make you forget about your loan payments, your dentist appointment or the appointment you made to have your car tires changed, and wish you were young again. An excellent choice of young actors; Karlo Mrkša proved to be an artist we have to count on in the future.
For Good Old Times
For Good Old Times has the potential of becoming a generational film. An impressive cast of young talents. Female audience might be bothered by the machismo.
JULY 17//TILL THE END OF DEATH AND EXORCISM
Horror film, a genre neglected in Croatia, unfortunately did not get a true representative even with Dalibor Matanić’s Exorcism. The main drawbacks are the screenplay, which is not elaborated enough, and very bad dialogue, but the excellent cinematography and exquisite Nika Ivančić in the role of a possessed woman, Maša, are the main advantages. It’s a watchable, but in view of the theme, a mediocre film, but it’s a good thing that horror films are finally being done in Croatia.
Till the End of Death
A wonderful homage to real people and their idiosyncrasies, a reminder of how the best film stories are hidden in the hearts of seemingly ‘ordinary’ people. Believable, intelligent, harrowing at times, but also a very funny film with excellent directing and casting. Bravo!
A brave attempt at a horror. Too bad more effort was not made in terms of the screenplay, especially the characterisation and the relationships among the characters. An extraordinary debut by Nika Ivančić.
Till the End of Death
A two-hour bore of close-ups and heartbreaking dialogue. Just kidding. The new film by Jurkas has knocked me off my feet and surpassed all of my expectations. Warm, touching, unpretentious, and human. If possible, watch it with your better half.
Starting from a very simple premise, with minimal production, Matanić has managed to make a fun, surprisingly scary genre film bearing resemblance to The Blair Witch Project, reminding of the need for an unpretentious game among Croatian film professionals and shows us the excellent Nika Ivančić.
JULY 16 //LADA KAMENSKI AND COMIC SANS
Comic Sans is a funny self-referencing film with the experienced Zlatko Burić giving a brilliant performance, and Janko Popović Volarić coping well with his role of an artist stuck in a gap between the creative and the commercial, the immature and the adult; and the film can also be read as the male counterpart to Aleksi, the film which opened the Festival.
Lada Kamenski at times uses bitter humour in dealing with an important social issue while telling its own author and human story at the same time. Issues like gender inequality, ageing and existential fear are seen across the different worlds of workers and artists without tacky comparisons of the two worlds.
Lada Kamenski is a simple, yet layered story of three women searching for work, meaning, and love. A bold excursion of the directing duo into that which is known through and through on the stage, but is not talked about in order to keep the peace. A film asking many questions, but doesn’t provide answers, leaving it up to the audience to figure it out themselves.
Comic Sans is an epic journey to the remote, beautiful Island of Vis, the search for long-lost love of a father, bohemian and artist, and a son, a corporate slicker with addiction issues. A fantastic portrayal of the adventure that starts with turning one’s back to the horrors of everyday life, riddled with a fine dose of cynicism and local red wine by the litre, taking the protagonists into an unforgettable and exciting exploration of their own weaknesses, but also the power of love.
Three actresses, three workers, three nonnas. An interesting, voyeuristic perspective into the dark side of Croatian theatre that would work even better without involving the context of Kamensko.
A heartwarming story of a relationship between a father and son, an hour too long and somewhat tiring, like the font in its title.
JULY 15 // ALEKSI AND HOME
ALEKSI, dir. Barbara Vekarić
HOME, dir. Dario Pleić
Aleksi is a welcome refreshment, in its atmosphere closer to the tradition of French escapist art than stereotypical portrayal of the Croatian coast. Tihana Lazović handles the role of a privileged herodevoid of ideas hero nicely, while other characters and their relationships are not sufficiently developed, which makes the story weaker.
Aesthetically, and even thematically, completely opposite to the cloudy and more messily directed debut by Hana Jušić, the debut by Barbara Vekarić is a sunny, significantly more cleaner drama postcard from Dalmatia, with excellent use of locations on Pelješac,the peninsula that almost became its own character.
A drama about eviction, torn from reality, occasionally threatening to feel right at home in the realm of pessimistic psychological thrillerstarring Judita Franković in another memorable role - this time of a young mother and actress. Unfortunately, this does not happen, butthe film can (also) be read as a nightmarish idea of an actress preparing for a new role