This article is a Benefit, offered via this Graboid With Benefits
piece.  The correct guesser of the Graboid was Chewer, RCA.  His requested Benefit was a Movie of the Day for Nimrod Antal’s Kontroll (2003), so here it is. 

You too can have a Graboid With Benefits prize, available at your nearest CHUD outlet, corner liquor store, porn house, or Scientology Recruitment Center.


Kontroll (1983)

The Principals: Director: Nimrod Antal.  Sándor Csányi, Zoltán Mucsi, Csaba Pindroch, Sándor Badár, Zsolt Nagy, Bence Mátyássy, Gyözö Szabó, Eszter Balla.

The Premise: Bulcsu (Csanyi) is a ticket inspector in the Hungarian Metro system who spends all his time underground, even sleeping in the subway system.  Bulcsu heads a team of inspectors made up of various interesting characters with their own quirks and issues.  The film is a nicely-brewed stew of vignettes and storylines, centering mostly around Bulcsu.  Among the endeavors in which he partakes are “railing,” a challenge where participants race down a tunnel ahead of the last express train.  Bulcsu also falls for the daughter, Sophie (Balla) of one of his best friends and train conductors, Bela.  Sophie is seen several times in the film, wearing a furry bear costume, for her job.  Bulcsu also encounters a mysterious hooded figure who is murdering commuters by pushing them in front of oncoming trains.

Is It Good: I have to say it was an unexpected delight.  I don’t generally do well with artier-type films and I hate reading films.  But Kontroll mixes the artiness with a good mainstream vibe and after a bit, I hardly noticed I was reading the movie.  Although it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie, Kontroll came across like After Hours to me.  I liked Antal’s characterization, the ease with which he had several stories going together and the humor he managed to work into the story. 

Csanyi is a wonder here.  He pulls off the subtlety of Bulcsu’s existence without a hiccup.  I like that Antal only gave enough of a glimpse into his former life with his old colleague that we see why he is the way he is now.  He’s hiding from himself and the dead end where he eventually finds himself during a stroll through the tunnels of course mirrors where his life has ended up.  And every time he seems to be riding an escalator, he’s headed further underground, until the end with Sophie.  Antal also peppered the supporting cast with some interesting and fun characters.  Was it me or did Eszter Balla have a sort of Zooey Deschanel thing going on? 

It’s kind of funny that I see Antal’s first film last.  What I’m left to wonder is, where is the storyteller in his major films that I saw here?  He deftly did a melange of both story and tone, pulling off a humorous thriller with hints of reality u-turns tossed in (was that crawl into the killer’s tunnel a dream?  A peak inside Bulcsu’s head?  Was there even really a killer?  Only Nimrod knows for sure.  I liked Predators well enough, and Vacancy was a pretty entertaining thriller that did more with not a lot.  However, after checking out Armored not too long ago, which was pedestrian at best, I wonder if Antal has lost himself in the Hollywood machine. 

Kontroll was really a very entertaining movie, just rich with acrid atmosphere (I could smell the cigarettes while watching this), story and character.  Where’s the guy who did this movie been?

Is It Worth A Look: Absolutely.

Random Anecdotes: Bootsie’s name in Hungarian was actually Roadrunner.

Cinematic Soulmates: After Hours, Money Train (location only).