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SIXTH ANNUAL HUNGARIAN FILM FESTIVAL (L.A. WEEKLY)

SIXTH ANNUAL HUNGARIAN FILM FESTIVAL (L.A. WEEKLY)

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by Chuck Wilson

The films in this showcase of recent Hungarian cinema may not leave you short of breath, but that doesn’t mean the best of them aren’t beautifully crafted and resonantly contemporary. A case in point is Benedek Fliegauf’s sometimes-maddening yet haunting Dealer, which details a day in the life of an unnamed Budapest drug pusher, played with enigmatic precision by Felícián Keresztes. Employing a camera that glides along so slowly toward its stunning final shot that Andrei Tarkovsky might have found himself reaching for the fast-forward button, the director follows the dealer as he drops in on customers, girlfriends and a dying friend, visits that gradually reveal a heart painfully beating beneath his stony exterior. In director Attila Janisch’s Kafkaesque After the Day Before, a photographer (Tibor Gáspár) new to a farming community is treated with both hostility and a bewildering familiarity by the locals, none of whom realizes that their visitor has just witnessed the murder of a local teenage girl. Deftly bending time while mixing dreams with reality, Janisch suggests, disturbingly, that by the time we truly come to know ourselves, it’s already too late. As an antidote to all this heavy going, there’s Steven Lovy’s energetic and delightful English-language film Mix, in which a musically gifted 17-year-old L.A. kid (newcomer Alex Weed, terrific) encounters Internet gangsters, a porn goddess and a bitter family secret (movingly told) after being stranded in Budapest. This flick definitely deserves a stateside release. (Music Hall, Fri.-Thurs., March 18-24.)

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