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With: Mircea Andreescu, Teodor Corban, Ion Sapdaru, Mirela Cioaba, Cristina Ciofu, Constantin Dita, Luminita Gheorghiu, Lucian Iftime
Written by: Corneliu Porumboiu
Directed by: Corneliu Porumboiu
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Romanian with English subtitles
Running Time: 89
Date: 05/24/2006
IMDB

12:08 East of Bucharest (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Talkin' Bout the Revolution

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though two excellent films in two years from one country hardly comprises a New Wave, last year's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu and the bittersweet new comedy 12:08 East of Bucharest will at least remind us to keep an eye on Romania as a source for interesting cinema to come. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the new film takes place entirely in one day, December 22, to be exact, the anniversary of the Romanian Revolution of 1989. The inhabitants of a small town prepare to celebrate Christmas, but at the same time, children light off firecrackers to commemorate the revolution. A local TV personality, Virgil Jderescu (Teodor Corban), prepares for a talk show about the event, asking whether or not the revolution actually occurred in their town. A drunken history professor (Ion Sapdaru) claims he was in the town square that morning, protesting and chanting slogans. Another guest, an old man who used to play Santa Claus (Mircea Andreescu), tells his story about the day, but admits that he only came to the square after the revolution had been won (when dictator Ceausescu boarded a helicopter on television to flee the country). Porumboiu begins the film with rudimentary events of the day, starting with a memorable shot of the streetlights blinking off in the gray, dawn light. Like other Eastern Europeans (Bela Tarr, Alexander Sokurov, etc.) he favors still, lengthy takes. In one hilarious scene, Jderescu chides his young cameraman for filming a musical performance hand-held; "put it back on the tripod before I smack you," he barks. The second half of the movie consists of the TV show itself, filmed in many long takes, but also by an amateur, who allows the camera to slip and go out of focus from time to time. The innocent question about the revolution eventually gives way to something quite a bit more potent, and the film leaves off on a perfect note of hopeful melancholy. The film opens this week in San Francisco at the Roxie Cinema.

DVD Details: Tartan's new DVD comes with a director's commentary track (in English), a trailer for this and five other Tartan features. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.