Thursday, January 19, 2006

DVD: Kontroll (2003, U.S. 2005)

In life and in the movies, I’m a subway kind of guy. In two cities that I’ve called home, they were my primary means of transportation. I’ve ridden them in numerous other ports of call. Seattle is in the process of building its own half-assed version that’s making rush hour traffic in the downtown core a ceaseless grind.

And subways may be the greatest of movie locations. Inherently cinematic, potent as metaphor – the roiling innards of the metropolis, connecting high and low. Just don’t eat anything you find on the floor. I’ve said more than once that repeated viewings of The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three made the man I am today. (When in New York, be sure to visit the Metropolitan Transit Museum and its permanent exhibit on films shot in the city’s subways, in which Pelham receives pride of place.)

So I was predisposed to like Kontroll, a movie set entirely in the Budapest subway. Literally. Every second of this ingenious, one-of-a-kind film takes place underground in the soothing glow of fluorescents. It’s part deadpan workplace comedy, part existential thriller, all brilliant. Rent it. You’ll thank me later.

Kontroll includes a sly tribute to one of the all-time great subway scenes from THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Plenty of movies have memorable moments set in the tunnels beneath the hard heart of the city. What are your favorites? Leave nominations in the comments. Remember to ask for a transfer.

Miscellaneous: Links

Takashi Miike proves to be too much for Showtime. No limits, my ass. And to mark the start of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, a reminder that winning the grand prize isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be.