Black Brush

A widescreen black-and-white slacker comedy featuring droll wit and a keen sense of timing coated in a dreamlike ennui, "Black Brush" reps a distinctive bit of mischief for young helmer Roland Vranik. Winner of top honors for film, producers and lensing at the recently-wrapped Hungarian Film Week, work is now poised to rep the new generation of Magyar filmmakers at high-profile international fests and could earn modest coin in limited art-house runs before discovering a fresh ancillary aud among couch jockeys too mellow to leave the house.

With:
With: Gergely Banki, Csaba Hernadi, Karoly Hajduk, Andras Rethelyi.

A widescreen black-and-white slacker comedy featuring droll wit and a keen sense of timing coated in a dreamlike ennui, “Black Brush” reps a distinctive bit of mischief for young helmer Roland Vranik. Winner of top honors for film, producers and lensing at the recently-wrapped Hungarian Film Week, work is now poised to rep the new generation of Magyar filmmakers at high-profile international fests and could earn modest coin in limited art-house runs before discovering a fresh ancillary aud among couch jockeys too mellow to leave the house.

Four stoner buddies run a dramatically inept chimneysweep business: Zoli (Gergely Banki), Anti (Csaba Hernadi), Dofi (Karoly Hajduk) and Papi (Andras Rethelyi) seem to have selected their profession for the opportunities it provides to zone out on a series of rooftops. As they work hard to avoid labor over the course of one hot summer, the loss of a large sum of the boss’ money in a cockfight begins a weird yet seemingly pre-ordained chain of events.

The lottery ticket they need to recoup their foolhardy investment is eaten by a goat, the slaughtering of which yields not the desired item, but the key to an expensive car parked in the garage run by a religious sect. And so on, with brief side trips for discussions on modern photography and the origins of the Hungarian flag, as well as the hallucinatory fantasy of a mind-altered goat (this involves a lot of cabbage).

Unfolding like a dream, the story has the weird mechanics and clockwork precision of a Rube Goldberg construction, only a whole lot slower. The effect on the receptive viewer is comfortably hypnotic in the spirit of early Jim Jarmusch, aided by the precise performances — transcending the subtitles — Vranik orchestrates among his principles. The fine tech package is lead by the formal simplicity of co-scripter Gergely Poharnok’s elegant camerawork and a score by Realistic Crew that sounds at times like a series of finely tuned door hinges.

Though pic was still in search of a domestic distributor on the day of its press premiere in Budapest, the film week prizes assure pic the momentum to reach a target demographic Vranik dryly described as “elevated from reality.”

Black Brush

Hungary

Production: A FilmTeam, Film Partners, Inforg Studio production. (International sales: Magyar Filmunio, Budapest.) Produced by Istvan Major, Agnes Pataki. Co-producers, Andras Muhi, Gabor Kovacs. Directed by Roland Vranik. Screenplay, Vranik, Gergely Poharnok.

Crew: Camera (B&W, widescreen), Poharnok; editor, Wanda Kiss; music, Realistic Crew (Krisztian Vranik, Csaba Kalotas); costume designer, Sosa Juristovszky; sound (DTS Digital), Tamas Zanyi; assistant director, Peter Matyasi. Reviewed at Hungarian Film Week, Budapest, February 5, 2005. Running time: 79 MINS.

With: With: Gergely Banki, Csaba Hernadi, Karoly Hajduk, Andras Rethelyi.

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