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Milosevic Was Poisoned: I Learned It At The Movies

Slobodan Milosevic was poisoned. I firmly believe this to be true. There is simply no way for me, as a film geek, to think otherwise. Every film that I have seen from the Balkans has insidious and ludicrous murder as the final end to its insidious and ludicrous characters.

Hukkle (Hiccough, 2002), the delightful women's revenge film from Hungary, depicts almost wordlessly the true story of the poisoning of an entire village of men by their women, who were tired of their lazy, drunken ways. The middle-aged female director of the Bulgarian documentary Chia e tazi pesen? (Whose Song Is This?, 2003) is threatened with lynching for suggesting a common love song was written by a Turk, not a Bulgarian. The 2002 Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign-Language Film, No Man's Land, is a first-rate satire that throws a Serbian and a Bosnian soldier together, arguing and working to keep the Bosnian's injured comrade from exploding a land mine he is laying against. I won't tell you how it ends, but rest assured, it's a Balkan end.

My latest Balkan fixation is Slovenian cinema. I admit that I have seen only one Slovenian film--well, actually, two since I found out that No Man's Land is a Slovenian co-production whose Slovenian title, Nikogarsnja zemlja, was dumped by Bosnia and Herzegovina before it was submitted to the Academy (how Balkan of them). Nonetheless, when a film geek finds a director like Slovenian Damjan Kozole, it sets off a specific and complex reaction that a chemistry-minded friend of mine said is "kinda like eating a box of Frango mints."

Last summer, at a Facets retrospective of Kozole's films, I fell head over heels for his 1997 Stereotip (Stereotype). In it, Slovenian pop star Roberto Magnifico plays a greasy, lazy artist-poseur who meets a typical Balkan end and sings a love song in a Monkees version of Heaven in the most winning performance by a pop singer since Iggy Pop tippled with Tom Waits in Coffee and Cigarettes ("Call me Jim. Call me Iggy. Well, my friends call me Jim. Or Iggy."). Incidentally, Magnifico won a Best Actor award in Slovenia, and the rumor mill has it that Madonna may come out of acting retirement when she was said to have been spotted taking a meeting in Ljubljana. I am now in search of a DVD distributor of Slovenian films.

In the meantime, I'll be parked in the dark for two Slovenian films showing this coming week at the annual European Union Film Festival, currently underway at the Gene Siskel Film Center. I absolutely love the idea of Rusevine (Ruins, 2004). At a time when big-time Hollywood directors like Joel Schumacher are grabbing their digital video cameras and pretending they're in film school, Janez Burger decided to shoot this backstage drama in Cinemascope! You're not likely to see another new Cinemascope film in this decade--or ever--and the Siskel Center is uniquely equipped to show it to best advantage on its Theatre 1 widescreen. For me, that makes Rusevine a must see.

Pod Njenim Okhom (Beneath Her Window, 2004) is described as follows: "The advent of her 30th birthday has dance instructor/club-hopper Dusha in a crisis that involves a King Cobra, a clogged sink, and a bun in the oven. Is she being stalked, or is it the Ecstasy?"

So what's not to like?

SHOWTIMES: Rusevine shows on March 17 (7:45 p.m.) and March 20 (6:15 p.m.). Pod Njenim Okhom will be screened on March 24 (6:15 p.m.) and March 25 (6:45 p.m.). At the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 North State Street, Chicago. Tel: 312.846.2600

Marilyn Ferdinand joins The Beachwood Reporter with wit, verve, and style. So what's not to like? For more of her fine film writing, check out Ferdy on Films.



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Posted on March 16, 2006


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