Monday, September 1, 2008


Dir: Jan Sverak, 1996 (10*)
Best Foreign Film (AA, GG)

This small and beautiful film from the Czech Republic is one of the more touching and uplifting in recent decades. The story concerns a cellist and avowed bachelor, brilliantly played the director's father, and script co-author Zdenak Sverak. His character can't find enough work as a classical cellist, and augments his paltry income by playing funeral music at church services. Needing money, he answers an ad, and marries a Russian woman with a young son for a fee (of a few thousand), so she can become a Czech citizen and get out of Russia.

She immediately disappears and the musician is stuck with her little boy, Kolya - and he grudgingly puts up with the situation. Young Andrej Shalimon is a delight, and was found in Moscow at the last minute after the director had rejected all other (thousands) auditioners. This is a wonderful film, with a beautiful story and shot that way with an uncanny eye for clarity. Young Andrej is one of the more lovable characters in the history of cinema, and I'm sure part of his magnetism is that he's not an actor, this is just how kids are.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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