CIFF 37: Mixed Bag on Thursday

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Following the failed Hungarian uprising in 1956, the secret police become obsessed with monitoring the actions of ordinary folk as well as their own colleagues. With agents, double agents, and double-triple agents . . . and so on, it’s a challenge to follow who’s doing what to whom. But with an excellent script, fine acting, dark and somber camera work, this thriller kept me on the edge of my seat. “A” for The Exam, which refers to the 12-hour surveillance by the secret police to determine the trustworthiness of their own agents.

Filip Kapec is an actor in children’s theater. After his son is arrested for marijuana possession, Filip is coerced by the police into posing as a priest to hear the deathbed confession of Macko, the Mafia boss whose construction firm has been burying bodies in the foundations of buildings. No wonder the police are having a hard time finding evidence. Loved the deadpan expression on Filip’s face as he listens to Macko’s confession. Often laugh-out-loud funny, Flower Square has some pretty dark moments, too. All’s well that ends well—a B+.

Do You Know What My Name Is? disappointed me. Filmed on bright sunny days in Cleveland, with gorgeous flowers blooming  everywhere, the documentary seemed like an infomercial for the Eliza Jennings Senior Care Network and the learning therapy used there to delay and/or reverse the effects of dementia in older people. For me there was something artificial in the set-up of the shots and I rated this one “C” for Fair.

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