Combustible Celluloid
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With: Cristi Puiu, Clara Voda, Catrinel Dumitrescu, Luminita Gheorghiu, Valentin Popescu, Gheorghe Ifrim, Alina Grigore, Letitia Rosculet
Written by: Cristi Puiu
Directed by: Cristi Puiu
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Romanian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 181
Date: 05/14/2010

Aurora (2011)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Gun Hazy

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I'm not sure if there's a such thing as a Romanian New Wave, but we have seen five extraordinary pictures from there over the past five years. The new one is from director Cristi Puiu, his follow-up to The Death of Mr. Lazarescu. Aurora is maddening, but also fascinating and dryly funny in the same way that Lazarescu was.

Puiu himself stars as a normal-looking guy with an ex-wife and kids. He lives in a cluttered apartment, which is being redecorated. He spends a bit of time dealing with water leaking from an upstairs neighbor's bathroom. He runs errands, collecting bits and pieces of what will eventually make a gun. He shoots some people, and acts like a jerk for a while before things finish up with a whimper.

The movie deliberately takes the crime genre and strips it down to a point that it loses all its romantic allure; it's a fascinating, mesmerizing commentary on our thirst for the sensational, but at the same time, why are we watching this, and why does it have to be 3 hours long? (Viewed at the San Francisco International Film Festival.)

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