Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gyorgy Cserhalmi films

Gyorgy Cserhalmi has been one of the top leading actors in Hungary since the 1970s. He is also well known in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. I've seen him described as the "best known Hungarian actor in Slovakia" (hmm) and he received a life-time achievement award by the Slovak film academy. Of course, unless you live in Hungary, the Czech Republic, or Slovakia, you have probably never heard of him. I first saw him in Zelary, which was nominated for best foreign film at the Oscars a few years ago. He has been in over 70 films, but most of these are a) in Hungarian and b) not available outside Hungary. Those that are available tend to art-films or film-noir, which really belies his work since he has been in loads of dramas and crime dramas. But you take what you can get, and so I have watched many art-films and film-noir that I would have never watched otherwise:

Zelary: an epic romantic drama about a young medical student who has to go to a little village to hide during WWII. Cserhalmi is the co-lead here and this is by far the best acting that I've seen of him. Geislerova (the lead) is also great.

cserhalmi is the one asleepKarhozat(aka Damnation): director Bela Tarr, serious film-noir!! This is one of the most visually striking films I've watched. However with that glowing comment, I should note that only those willing to tolerate avant-garde film should consider watching this. Cserhalmi was in a supporting role. Released by Criterion Classics, avail. at

Kontroll: an odd story about a young ticket controller on the Budapest subway system by a young new Hungarian director. This is film-noir but accessible to a much wider audience than Karhozat. Cserhalmi is in a supporting role. Kontroll is widely available on DVD.

they are rehearsing a playMephisto: a classic must-see by the Hungarian mega-director István Szabó. Anyone interested in modern European history and Germany should see this film. The lead, Klaus Maria-Brandauer, is fantastic. Cserhalmi has a supporting role and he's fairly wooden in it. Mephisto is widely available for rent or purchase.

Hanussen: another by Szabó. Cserhalmi has a minor supporting role. Hanussen is also widely available for rent or purchase. I'm not a big fan of Hanussen. I didn't quite get the point of it.

they are rehearsing a playElectra, My Love: director Miklos Jancso. Can you say art film? I really like this film. It's over the top 1970s art. Cserhalmi is in a lead role. This is available through Amazon.

Hungarian Rhapsody: another Jancso art film. I can't believe I sat through this film. It's kind of about revolts against the aristocrats in Hungary in the 1800s. Cserhalmi is the lead and is pretty wooden here. This is hard to find and is on VHS only.

Stalin's Bride: A satire about the Stalin-era and its corruptive effects on society. Cserhalmi is in a main supporting role. He mainly sits around cracking walnuts.

The Bridgeman: the most expensive Hungarian film ever made, supporting role. This is available at Amazon. I haven't seen it yet.

Szirmok, virágok, koszorúk (Flowers of Reverie): I don't know a thing about this. Available at Facets. It won a silver Berlin Bear at the 1984 Berlin International film festival.

The following movies are available only in Hungary. This site lists shops in Budapest that have these titles.

Az igazi Mikulás (The Real Santa): Just out in 2005, an apparently lame film (based on the really low marks on about a one-legged bum who by a curious turn of events is playing Santa and is beset by a little girl who wants a bike. Co US/Hungarian/Serbian produced film. Cserhalmi got a Hungarian film critics award for his acting here. Released on DVD in Hungary. Subtitled.

The Unburied Man (A Temetetlen halott): a recent movie on the Hungarian prime minister Nagy Imre who stood up to the Communists in the 50s. He was executed, obviously. Cserhalmi was in a supporting role and was awarded best supporting actor for this performance. It's available on DVD in Hungary, but it doesn't seem to be distributed outside the country. Subtitled.

Kántor 1-2: This is a TV detective series from the 1970s. Apparently out 11-2-2005 or 2-11-2005 and released by It probably won't be subtitled.

Az ember, aki nappal aludt: Hungarian crime drama, poorly received by critics. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

Hamvadó cigarettavég (Smouldering cigarette): romantic musical set in Budapest. It won a couple awards at festivals. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

Megint tanú (Witness again): Hungarian satire by Peter Basco about modern Hungary. On VHS and released in Hungary only with English subtitles. The title is a reference to Peter Basco's acclaimed film Tanú (The Witness), a social commentary about life in the 1950s (I think).

Anna filmje (Anna's film): Drama about a woman who gets pregnant with her 4th kid, unhappily. On VHS and released in Hungary only with English subtitles.

Kék Duna keringő (Blue Danube Waltz): Crime drama. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

A Nagy generáció (The Great Generation): This award-winning film is a commentary on the nature of the older and younger generation in Hungary during the mid-'80s. On VHS and released in Hungary only with English subtitles.

Hajnali háztetők (Rooftops at Dawn): Drama about ?. Cserhalmi was awarded best actor in the Hungarian Film Fest for this; the film got best cinematography too. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

Szörnyek évadja (Season of Monsters): This is by the director Miklos Jancso (very important eastern European director). It got an honorable mention at the Venice film festival. It one of Jancso's later political films exploring the subversion of grand socialist idealism. I can't believe this is unavailable outside Hungary. On VHS and released in Hungary only in Hungarian (grr).

A Tanítványok (The Disciples): Message film about the dangers of big agrarian business. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

Dögkeselyü: Crime drama about some old women who steal from a poor taxi driver. Nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the 1983 Berlin film festival. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

Nárcisz és Psyché (Narcissus and Psyche): Bizarre drama. On VHS and released in Hungary only.

80 huszár: Period drama about the Hungarian revolution in 1848-49. Released in Hungary in Hungarian and German.

Egy erkölcsös éjszaka (A Very Moral Night): Comedy about a whorehouse in a little town. Nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1978 Cannes film festival. Released in Hungary in Hungarian.

Kísértet Lublón (Phantom on Horseback): ? Released in Hungary in Hungarian.

Amerikai anzix (American Torso): Three Hungarians find themselves in the American West during the Civil War era, and they discuss love and surveying technology. Ok... Won an award at the Heidelberg film festival. Released in Hungary in Hungarian.