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Now Showing at: Cincinnati World Cinema
Review by: Larry Thomas

The latest foreign film to reach our town courtesy of Cincinnati World Cinema is called Zift, and is from Bulgaria. “Zift” is a four-letter word with a couple of different connotations in that country, one of which is a type of asphalt.

Zahary Bahalov plays Moth…no other name is ever given. He’s been imprisoned for a murder he did not commit during a robbery, in which he participated. When he is sentenced it is before the Communist takeover of that country. His parole dumps in into the lap of a system where Communist ways have totally changed his country. During the story, Moth attempts to clear his name and bring the actual perpetrator to justice, as well a reconnect with his true love Ada. Along the way, pieces of his back-story are revealed, not unlike parts of Tarentino's Pulp Fiction. The film shot in a stark black-and-white, not unlike the early works of Kubrick. And there are plenty of odd characters and situations, some shocking, which are reminiscent of the works of David Lynch.

There are also other references throughout to classic American films, not the least of which is its fondness for film noir of the 1940s. And despite the time and place of the story, there is, in an eerie way, something futuristic-looking about it.

Zift is based on a Bulgarian pulp novel, and director Javor Gardev has done his homework in honoring styles of American pulp cinema. The performances are excellent, as is the stunning black-and-white widescreen photography. It’s violent, profane, sexual, and just a tad difficult to follow. But if you’re a fan of the aforementioned filmmakers, and genre, then Zift should be right up your alley.

The R-rated Zift is showing today at 6:30 pm, with an encore screening on Tuesday night at 7:30.

The other film showing in the Global Cinema series is Mutum, from Brazil. Directed by Sandra Kogut, Mutum is set on a small, rural farm in a remote part of the country. It’s a coming-of-age story seen through the eyes of young Thiago, who lives with his abusive father, cowering mother, and several other relatives. His pleasures in life are simple, and are beginning to be threatened by events surrounding him which he neither understands or knows how to escape them.

While Mutum is rooted in the Italian neo-realism movement of the post-World War II era, it doesn’t have the storytelling ability of those classic films, and does feel rather slow moving.

The all non-professional cast does the best they can under the circumstances, and at times the stark simplicity of the style is an asset. But overall, Mutum is film that might likely be classified as “difficult.”

The unrated Mutum is showing today only at 4 pm. You may either see it by itself, or buy a double feature ticket with Zift. There will be a cash bar social hour before the showing, and film discussion after.

Cincinnati World Cinema shows its films in Covington’s Carnegie Arts Center on Scott Boulevard. Keep in mind that the Suspension Bridge is closed for a couple of weeks for repairs and painting, so you may need to use a different route today.


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