Black Cat, White Cat

Two years after he swore off filmmaking in the wake of bitter controversy surrounding his 1996 masterpiece UNDERGROUND, Bosnian-born director Emir Kusturica has, happily, changed his mind. For his welcome return, Kusturica reunites with screenwriter Gordan Mihic, and together they revisit the gypsy-world of their picaresque 1991 epic, TIME OF THE GYPSIES....read more

Reviewed by Ken Fox
Rating:

Two years after he swore off filmmaking in the wake of bitter controversy surrounding his 1996 masterpiece UNDERGROUND, Bosnian-born director Emir Kusturica has, happily, changed his mind. For his welcome return, Kusturica reunites with screenwriter Gordan Mihic, and together they revisit the gypsy-world of their picaresque 1991 epic, TIME OF THE GYPSIES. In the small Yugoslavian town of Surduk on the banks of the Danube, ne'er-do-well Matko Destanov (Bajram Severdzan) hatches a crazy plan to steal an entire trainload of petrol, and turns to Dadan (Srdan Todorovic) for help. Bad move: Dadan is a sleazy, gold-plated gangster and alleged war criminal who's only looking out for his own cocaine-pumped self and three homely sisters. Unbeknownst to Matko, Dadan steals the train right out from under him. Dadan then demands that the now-destitute

Matko either return the pay-off money he invested in the scheme, or agree to marry off his 17-year-old son (Florijan Ajdini) to Dadan's 23-year-old sister, a grouchy midget named Afrodita (Salija Ibraimova). What follows very nearly verges on chaos; a wild, endlessly inventive romp set in a post-war world so full of machine-guns and hand-grenades that people barely flinch when one or the other goes off, where corruption is so pervasive that an honest swindler like Matko can hardly make a living. But it's also a joyful place where entertainment means a hefty singer with a crescent-shaped hairdo pulling nails from a board of wood with her buttocks, and there's a surprising warmth and even a little optimism behind Kusturica's gallows humor. Like the happy-marriage ending and the two fornicating cats — one black, one white — that prowl their way around the

film, there's even a hope for the end of murderous divisiveness. (In Serbo-Croatian, with English subtitles.)

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