Friday, August 26, 2011

TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE hits theaters at last; five Romanian short films

When TrustMovies first saw the Romanian omnibus movie, TALES FROM THE GOLDEN AGE, it was nineteen months ago and the film had no definite U.S.distribution arranged, so it's a treat to be able to welcome it into theaters today, via IFC Films. Sporting what must surely be a winner in the Ironic Film Title competition, the movie -- set in Romania during the halcyon days of President Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena -- takes the form of five short tales or "legends," all written by Christian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days).

Each has been directed by one of these five filmmakers -- Hanno HöferRazvan MarculescuConstantin PopescuIoana Uricaru and one by Mungiu himself, but I am sorry to say I don't know who directed which. However, since Mr. Mungiu (shown below) wrote all of them and was in change of one segment, I'll credit him first -- but not only.

According to Variety, the producers wanted to keep the identities of who-directed-what a secret. Well, OK, but credit is still due. Fortunately, every one of these "tales" is terrific. Each segment offers a typical situation from the good old Commie days when you could count on things not working, each in its own special way. The tales include The Official Visit, in which top party brass is said to be paying a visit to a little town that tries so hard to be prepared, with the expected results that literally fly off in their own merry manner.
The Party Photographer (above) is a deadpan hilarious spoof of retouched photography and a visit to the Romanian Prez  from France's Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. The Chicken Driver (see below) is not a coward; he's simply driving poultry cross country in a sweet, sad tale of a decent guy trapped by circumstance.

The Greedy Policeman (see photo with pig, at top) -- the funniest of the bunch, in which we watch everyone from kids to grown-ups use each other badly -- takes place at Christmas, as Uncle Fane has promised to bring some pork for the holiday meal. The final episode is titled The Air Sellers, though The Empty Bottle Sellers would have been closer to the point. All about making money in Romania, this one's romantic, funny and dark -- and stars a young actress (shown in the photo below) we're certain to be seeing again soon.
Tales from the Golden Age, opens today at Manhattan's IFC Center .As with so many IFC Films, you might have the chance to see it via VOD, starting, uh,.... damned if I can figure this out. We expect the big studios to occasionally "dump" a movie. But one of our most important providers of independent films doing this, too? Not nice.

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