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James Bond 007 No time to die 2020 Daniel Craig, Rami Malek

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Established 1995 filmfestivals.com serves and documents relentless the festivals community, offering 92.000 articles of news, free blog profiles and functions to enable festival matchmaking with filmmakers.

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Eszter Nagy-Kálózy,scintillating Eszter as Magyar film week winds down

Eszter Nagy-Kálózy, 42, one of Hungary's outstanding screen actresses, was particularly brilliant in "Eszter's Inheritance" (Eszter hagyatéka), the showcase off-competition film of the festival week, in a classic period piece set entirely in a country estate by Lake Boloton in the 193Os. The film is directed by Józef Sipos and is based on a pre-war short story by legendary ex-patriate XXth century Hungarian writer, Sándor Márai. This is basically a woman's story, a tale of frustrated life-long love and betrayal. Eszter is a beautiful lonely woman who feels herself growing old and has lived in self-imposed seclusion in this stately lakeside mansion with an aged woman housekeeper as her only company following the abandonment 2O years earlier of her ne'er do well husband Lajos, who left her for a younger woman.

As the film opens the elderly housekeeper, Mari Töröcsik (now 72, but she looks a hundred and is an immortal icon of the Hungarian cinema) notifies Eszter that after all these years Lajos is coming to visit, whereupon we learn from Eszter's interior monologue that she is still deeply in love with Lajos although she knows full well that he is an incorrigibile liar, unscupulous con-artist, and ruthless opportunist. Lajos is played to sleazy perfection by another iconic Hungarian actor, Győrgy Cserhalmi, now sixty. To make a long, sad story short, Lajos, who has arrived in a fancy car with his new wife and an entire entourage, plays on Eszter's tender feelings to literally con her into signing the house and property over to him, which, incredibly she does! This despite the protests of everyone around her who know Lajos for what he really is, a charming Asshole. Why Eszter agrees to letting herself be taken in like this is actually the crux of the whole story. She lets us know that she is yielding to a higher law than that of the courts (which once wanted to put Lajos away for a while) -- the irrational law of the jungle of love. This is a film, ultimately, about a woman's basic instincts, and what Nagy-Kálózy does with the material of the Márai tale is a thing of anguished beauty that is rarely seen on the screen in such subtle shadings.

If this remakable film with its long Chekhovian dialogues will play as well to non-Hungarian audiences is hard to say, but the chances are that, if it been shown here in competition it would have walked off with all the prizes. Not only is the acting superb, with an incredible supporting turn by Töröcsik as the housekeeper, but the photography, alternating autumnal hues with painterly exterior landscapes and searching close ups of the faces of the main protagonists, would be Oscar material if this were Hollywood. The DOP is Francisco Gózon who also lensed the visually exquisite "Bird Saviour, Clouds and Wind" in 2OO6.

The novelist, Sándor Márai, is a story in himself. In the thirties he was regarded as such an elegant stylist that he was often called the "Hungarian Thomas Mann". When the Communists took over in 1948 Márai moved to the United States and hated Communism so much never returned. He continued to write but wouldn't allow his works to be published in Hungary. He committed suicide at the age of niinety, just weeks prior to the fall of Communism in 1989, ironically not living to see the day he so longed to see but never did. Since then his banned works have all now been published in Hungary where Mr. Márai is enjoying (if the departed can enjoy) a gigantic posthumous boom. The Márai literary boom was clearly the motivation for making this movie and is part of the cachet surrounding the film. Completed too late to be shown in competition here, it will be interesting to see if an exquiste movie like this will catch on elsewhere.

A couple of other films I finally managed to catch up with were "Mario, The Magician" (no relation to Thomas Man's "Mario AND the Magician",) another frustrated love story about an Italian businessman (Franco Nero!) who comes to town and unwittingly breaks the heart of a local Hungarian damsel, and "OFF HOLLYWOOD", Sabolcs Hajdu's followup to last years international success White Palms. This one is about a beautiful young woman, (Orsolya Török-Illyés) who is an independent filmmaker, and a very bad day in her life which sends her running top speed aíround the streets of Budapest for some fifteen breathless minutes of screentime. Details on these films tomorrow, but suffice it tio say that "Off Hollywood", despite Orsolya's impressive onscreen track performance, is no "Run Lola Run. Tomorrow also, this year's film prizes will be announced. Stay tuned. Don't go way ...

by Alex Deleon
Budapest, February 4, 2OO8

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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