×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Ruben Brandt, Collector’

Milorad Krstić targets adults with this stylish, fast-paced, English-language animated thriller set in the world of fine art.

Director:
Milorad Krstić
With:
Iván Kamarás, Csaba “Kor” Márton, Gabriella Hámori, Katalin Dombi, Matt Devere, Henry Grant, Christian Nielson Buckhold, Butch Engle. (English dialogue)

1 hour 34 minutes

“Possess your problems to conquer them.” That’s the credo psychotherapist Ruben Brandt preaches to his criminally-inclined clients in this  stylish, fast-paced, English-language animated thriller for adults. But when Brandt’s patients help him to apply his own advice, he becomes “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” ringleader of a gang responsible for the theft of 13 of the world’s most famous paintings. In this entertaining romp, his fiction feature debut, multi-hyphenate Milorad Krstić literally puts the ”art” in “arthouse,” using 2D and 3D animation techniques to depict the tropes of film noir and action-adventure, all the while paying clever homage to the worlds of film and fine art. Further festival play is a given, with niche distribution a solid bet for most territories.

Brandt (Iván Kamarás) is the offspring of an East German émigré whose knowledge of subliminal programming with 16mm film was exploited by the CIA — and used to experiment on his own son. Since the recent death of his father, Brandt is troubled by powerful auditory and tactile hallucinations in which characters from famous paintings attack him. For example, in one nightmare, the Infanta Margarita Teresa from Diego Velázquez’s masterwork sinks her sharp teeth into his arm; in another, Sandro Botticelli’s Venus uses her long, golden tresses to pull him to the depths of the sea.

Clearly, poor Brandt needs help — and who better to provide it than his grateful patients, a genial group of recuperating ne’er-do-wells led by the wily kleptomaniac Mimi (Gabriella Hámori), who combines the acrobatic skill of Fantomas with the seductive persona of a modern-day Marlene Dietrich? Also pitching in is Bye-Bye Joe (Matt Devere), a brawny, overly loquacious, celebrity bodyguard; Fernando (Christian Niels Buckholdt), a computer whiz who can’t resist leaving his signature tag every time he accomplishes a security breech; and Membrano Bruno (Henry Grant), a rotund bank robber.

Soon, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Tate, the Uffizi, the Hermitage, New York’s MoMA, and Chicago’s Art Institute all lose some of their most prestigious holdings. As the reward for the recovery of the missing pictures rises to a cool million, handsome, hard-boiled detective Mike Kowalski (Csaba “Kor” Márton) battles mobster Vincenzo (Butch Engle) and his sinister henchman to be the first to discover the identity of the man whom the press dubs “The Collector.”

But Kowalski, a collector himself (his aggregation of unusual movie memorabilia will amuse film buffs), has more in common with Brandt than he realizes. Part of the film’s fun is the eventual solving of Kowalski’s identity.

Slovenia-born, Budapest-based helmer Krstić is a painter and multimedia artist. His first short animation, “My Baby Left Me,” nabbed a Silver Bear at the 1995 Berlinale. His encyclopedic knowledge of art history and love for world cinema shines through every frame of the hand-drawn film. Close viewing yields numerous references, from Dalí to de Chirico, Eisenstein to Hitchcock (the suspense master’s iconic profile shows up in some unexpected places), and Elvis (à la Warhol) to Rocky. Most of the characters sport faces that would be right at home in Picasso’s cubist period and even the title character’s name references Rubens and Rembrandt.

While Krstić is especially good at providing noir atmosphere (jazzy, smoke-filled dives, ominous shadows, and references to Mike Hammer films), he positively excels at high-octane action. The film opens with a near-10-minute chase through the streets and across the buildings of Paris that spills onto the boats of the Seine. Later, a breathtaking getaway sequence on the motorway is choc-a-bloc with movie references. Finally, an ingeniously choreographed session of performance art not only sends up some of that genre’s excesses, but attains the frenetic grace of a soccer game or display of martial art.

An evocative score by Tibor Cari, spiced with selections from classical recordings and hipster versions of cult classics, perfectly suits the action. The version screened in Locarno is the international version. A version with Hungarian dialogue will open domestically on Nov. 15.

Film Review: 'Ruben Brandt, Collector'

Reviewed online, London, Aug. 9, 2018. (In Locarno, Sarajevo film festivals.) Running time: 94 MIN.

Production: (Animated — Hungary) A Hungarian National Film Fund production, with support from the Hungarian Film Incentive. (Int'l sales: Hungarian National Film Fund, Budapest.) Producers: Péter Miskolczi, János Kurdy-Fehér, Milorad Krstić, Hermina Roczkov, Radmila Roczkov.

Crew: Director: Milorad Krstić. Screenplay: Krstić, Radmila Roczkov. Camera, (widescreen, HD). Animation: Milorad Krstić, Marcell László. Editors: Krstić, László, Danijel Daka Milošević, László Wimmer. Music: Tibor Cári.

With: Iván Kamarás, Csaba “Kor” Márton, Gabriella Hámori, Katalin Dombi, Matt Devere, Henry Grant, Christian Nielson Buckhold, Butch Engle. (English dialogue)

More Film

  • Apollo 11

    Film News Roundup: 'Armstrong' Doc Set for Release on 50th Anniversary of Moon Landing

    In today’s film news roundup, a Neil Armstrong documentary and “The Invisible Man” get release dates, “Forrest Gump” and “Saving Private Ryan” get re-released and Patrick Fugit gets cast. RELEASE DATES Gravitas Ventures has bought worldwide rights to the Neil Armstrong documentary “Armstrong” and will open the film on July 12 in theaters and on [...]

  • Inside Goop's Wellness Summit With Gwyneth

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop Summit Proves Hollywood Retirement Is Working for Her

    Across the country on Saturday, movie theaters sold over $12 million in tickets to “Avengers: Endgame,” helping it amass $771 million in the U.S. since its release in April. On the same day, in a stunning urban greenhouse complex in DTLA, the film’s supporting star Gwyneth Paltrow counted tickets of her own — pricey, perk-loaded [...]

  • Johnny Depp

    Johnny Depp's Ex-Lawyers Claim He Owes $350,000

    Johnny Depp was hit with a $350,000 lawsuit on Monday from a law firm that claims he has not paid his bills. Depp retained Buckley LLP in the fall of 2017 to sue his former entertainment law firm, Bloom Hergott LLP, which he accused of pocketing $30 million in fees without a written agreement. Three [...]

  • Keanu Reeves stars as 'John Wick'

    'John Wick 4' Confirmed With a 2021 Release Date

    John Wick will be back in exactly two years and a day. Lionsgate announced Monday that it has scheduled “John Wick 4” for May 21, 2021. The studio made the announcement via a text message to fans: “You have served. You will be of service. John Wick: Chapter 4 is coming – May 21, 2021.” [...]

  • Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With

    Krysanne Katsoolis Sets Up Viewpark With $200 Million Fund

    Veteran film industry executive Krysanne Katsoolis has launched Viewpark, which will finance, package and release high-end film and TV content. Viewpark has partnered with former Wall Street executive Keith Price’s Obsidian Asset Management to create a multi-million dollar fund for the production and marketing of its slate, Katsoolis told Variety. Obsidian, based in London and [...]

  • Elle FanningChopard Trophee dinner, 72nd Cannes

    Elle Fanning Faints at Cannes Dinner Party

    Elle Fanning, a member of this year’s Cannes jury, had a brief scare Monday night when she fainted at the Chopard Trophee dinner. Festival director Thierry Fremaux had just introduced actor Francois Civil onstage when Fanning, star of “The Beguiled” and “Maleficent,” collapsed and fell off her chair nearby. Fanning was sitting at a table [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content