Thursday, August 17, 2006

"13 TZAMETI"...

...has already had plenty of praise lavished on it, so I feel a bit late to the dance, but:

This film is the real deal. No shit.

I'd heard a lot of early-Polanski comparisons, and they're not at all off the mark. Though I think a chief difference might be that while Polanski was interested in turning his view inward, towards shattered psyches and inexplicable, evil impulses, Gela Babluani is looking outwards towards a capitalistic global marketplace, with the occasional nod to old school communist kickbacks and corruption (though this is a film with its eyes thoroughly focused on an economy of the present and near-future).

I've also heard a few people make comparisons between "13 Tzameti" and either Asian Extreme films or Eli Roth's ("Hostel") oeuvre--but I don't think the comparison is apt. I also think it's too easy to talk about Babluani's worldview as part of a strain of "Eastern European nihilism."

I mean, yes, the perspective of the film is very much a product of Babluani's world, but I think "13 Tzameti" is a major work, from a young director with a staggering amount of insight to offer, and that the film is prescient for the entire world (parallels could be made between the dangerous game played in this film and the Asian sex trade industry, Mexican immigrants dying to enter America, etc.). This film is global in its point-of-view, and is less a warning than a sad, resigned acknowledgment of where we've arrived (with, yes, a bit of Kafka-esque calculation and dramatic build-up).

But if the men with guns in "The Deerhunter" represented the debasement of culture during wartime, then "13 Tzameti" one-ups the proposition by offering a dark perspective of culture fully embracing capitalism in the 21st century: everyone gets paid...except for those anonymous corpses hidden in the basement.

See "13 Tzameti" at FILM FORUM before it leaves at the end of August...