Reviews, Reports + Comments

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of film: “MADE IN HUNGÁRIA” + TALK with Director GERGELY FONYÓ [ = REPORT # 11 on 45th CIFF ]

2009, 10-31:

Review of film:  “MADE IN HUNGÁRIA  + TALK with Director GERGELY FONYÓ
[ = REPORT # 11 on 45th CIFF ]

This constitutes my Report # 11 on the 45th Chicago Int'l Film Festival --  with a review of the enjoyable musical film “MADE IN Hungária” :

Coincidentally, besides the Russian-made “HIPSTERS”, the other “ROCK” type musical at this year’s Fest was also from an Eastern-bloc country:

Review of film:  “MADE IN HUNGÁRIA 


Gergely Fonyó


Istvan Tasnadi  (who also wrote the original play on which it’s based).


Tamás Szabó Kimmel
Tamás Dunai
Tünde Kiss
Iván Fenyö


[A Communist Party member says that rock needs to have:] “… a ‘positive’ message in a cultured environment”.
“Buddy HOOLI-gans”
MY Rating

8.5 of 10 stars  (for the 109-minute film).  

                         BUDAPEST BOOGIE-WOOGIE

It’s 1963 in Soviet-controlled Communist Hungary. The film (based on a TRUE story) starts with vinyl records moving around in an old Wurlitzer jukebox…

…  Soon, you see a small plane about to land at an airport, & hear a rocking Jerry Lee Lewis song about “soul on fire” in the background. The plane lands, & you see gun-toting military men walking around the balcony on the airport tower (a sign of the control the government is trying to exert in all areas)….

…  The main occupants leaving the plane are a young man named Miki (played by TAMÁS SZABÓ KIMMEL), his father (TAMÁS DUNAI) & his mother (ÉVA VÁNDOR)--  all of whom had to return to Hungary after 4 years of living in the U.S….

…  Miki is a very self-confident musician who loves American Rock ‘N Roll, rather than the “sterilized” music allowed by the Hungarian authorities.  His Dad doesn’t want him to make waves, because he wants to try & get a decent job for himself from the higher-up big-wigs he used to know / work for…

…  Before Miki had left the country, he had a “flame” named Vera (TÜNDE KISS), who later took up with a musician rival of his named Röné (played by IVÁN FENYÖ)--  a local “tough” who’s also a part-time thief on the side.  Miki soon becomes popular with people his age, because he carries a stash of “forbidden” items from America:  ‘45’ records by stars such as Buddy Holly & Jerry Lee, whiskey, etc….

…  Röné is a big-shot star in his local area, & the teens like the “mild” rock he plays (as “approved” by Communist Party members).  But, they soon learn to LOVE the “wilder” rock played by Miki.  That increasingly disturbs the Party flunkies, who make that clear to him & his Dad with comments such as saying they need to avoid the “Buddy HOOLI-GANS & a pointed remark that they want any music played to have “a ‘positive’ message in a cultured environment”…

…  But unrepentant Miki likes “ROUSING” the public with wilder rock than they’re used to hearing.  You thus get a bunch of ROLLICKING music & fine choreography to numbers such as “Casino Twist”, “It’s A Magic Mania”, a Cha-Cha performance, & others.  At one point, he tinkles the “ivories” with such “flaming” intensity that it gives new meaning to playing a “HOT” piano… 

…  The director Gergely Fonyó has been quoted as saying that “Miki and his mates have to envisage the fate-shaping questions of love, friendship, struggle and surrender, treachery and solidarity with no weapons but rock ‘n’ roll to face the communist dictatorship.”…

…  Will Miki succeed in his efforts win back Vera & subdue Röné?...  Will he be able to continue successfully flaunting what he does in the face of the powerful governmental authorities?...  Will the public keep APPRECIATING what he does?...

…  This highly enjoyable film answers all that, surrounding it with lots of color, big effective production numbers, & lots of rebellious FUN.  (While “HIPSTERS” was a drama with music, this movie is more of an old-time “MUSICAL” with dramatic elements in “between” the musical interludes)… 

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As I recall, in past years, the Festival tended to have special guests involving the films (directors, stars, etc.) arrive for the 1st showing of the film, & they might not stay around for later screenings of it.  This year, they seemed to have a large number of the guests arrive mainly for the LATER (2nd & 3rd) showings…

…  That seemed to be the case for “MADE IN HUNGÁRIA”, wherein director GERGELY FONYÓ arrived for the 2nd (October 19th) screening of the film.  After he introduced it to his audience (while I was attending a different film introduction across the hall), he was nice enough to give me a “private” interview in the hallway regarding his film (which I’d seen two days before):

…  Mr. Fonyó was pleased I’d made special efforts to see his movie & to hear that I’d ENJOYED it very much.  To my videotaped questions, he related how he’d seen the PLAY version of the story around 6 years ago, loved it, & worked to get the rights to be able to turn it into a movie…

…  When I complimented him on his fine English, he related that he himself had emigrated & lived in LOS ANGELES for a number of years, had 2 children there, & then went back to visit Hungary--  & thus the story-line especially “resonated” with him!…

…  As to the casting, he knew immediately (from stage work he’d seen & the like) that he wanted IVÁN FENYÖ to play the role of Röné – but it was far more difficult to find someone to properly play Miki:  He interviewed more than 1000 people before he found TAMÁS SZABÓ KIMMEL --  but, as soon as he met him & saw what he could do, he realized he was the “right” person for the role, & hired him!… 

…  With rehearsals & all, it took around 8 weeks to make the film.  He was pleased to report that it had been released in Hungary, & had already proven to be very POPULAR with the public.  

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