Presented by Facets Cinematheque and the Romanian Cultural Institute, this complete retrospective of films by Pintilie runs Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 13, at Facets Cinematheque. Following are selected features screening through May 13; for a full schedule see facets.org. All films are in Romanian with subtitles.
Niki and Flo Fathers-in-law of a young couple trying to conceive their first child, Niki and Flo couldn’t be more different. Niki (Victor Rebengiuc) is a retired army colonel proud of his career; Flo (Razvan Vasilescu) is a vegetarian anarchist, vehemently critical of church, state, and all other institutions. The two are brought together by the funeral of Niki’s other son, who was electrocuted in a freak accident. Pintilie adroitly and gradually exposes the ostensibly free-spirited Flo as a domineering fascist who continually denigrates the unassuming old soldier. Unfortunately, a violent conclusion upsets the balance of what comes before. —Joshua Katzman 99 min. Also on the program: a video interview with Pintilie. Fri 5/4, 9:15 PM; Wed 5/9, 7 PM; Fri 5/11, 9 PM; and Sun 5/13, 1 PM
The Oak The farcical and horrific living conditions in Romania during the last year of the Ceausescu dictatorship are the focus of this 1992 French-Romanian production, based on Ion Baiesu’s novel Bylanta. When her father dies in Bucharest, a young schoolteacher (Maia Morgenstern) erupts in fury against the bureaucracy, then leaves the city to teach in the provinces, where she promptly becomes the victim of a sexual assault. The doctor (Razvan Vasilescu) who befriends her soon becomes the target of corrupt local authorities. Around these starting points Pintilie builds elaborate arabesques of rage and mordant comedy. —Jonathan Rosenbaum 105 min. New print. Sat 5/5, 3 and 7 PM
Reenactment Cited as a major influence by Romanian new wave filmmakers Corneliu Porumboiu (Police, Adjective) and Cristi Puiu (The Death of Mr. Lazarescu), this 1969 drama by Lucian Pintilie anticipates theirs in its compressed time frame, realist style, and bitter humor. Two young men are arrested for their drunken brawl outside a bar and ordered to reenact the event for a government film about the dangers of alcohol. The hapless state functionaries directing the film have no idea what they’re doing and the crew botches take after take, forcing the young men to fight each other all afternoon. This begins as comedy but ends as an angry critique of communist oppression, which was hardly lost on the Ceausescu regime: it banned the film and prohibited Pintilie from making another one in Romania for a decade. —Ben Sachs New print. University of Chicago professor Thomas Pavel introduces the Fri 5/4 screening. Fri 5/4, 7 PM; Fri 5/11, 7 PM; and Sun 5/13, 5:15 PM
Sunday at Six In Pintilie’s debut feature (1965), a member of Romania’s socialist underground (Dan Nutu) falls for a spunky new recruit (Irina Petrescu) whose inexperience leads to tragedy. The story of youthful idealists hounded by an oppressive government links this to American counterculture movies, though the elliptical narrative, jump cuts, street filming, and long tracking shots are more reminiscent of the French New Wave. The naturalism of the lead actors as well as the extras gives this a timeless quality, and Radu Caplescu’s lively score wittily comments on the action. —Andrea Gronvall 102 min. Sun 5/6, 1 and 5 PM
An Unforgettable Summer A stylistically graceful period piece (1994), based on a short story by Petru Dumitriu and set in 1925. When the aristocratic wife of an army captain resists the advances of a general, her husband’s superior angrily transfers the captain and his family to a remote garrison in a border town, where he’s ordered to shoot randomly selected Bulgarian villagers. The interface of class and military positions in a context of ethnic diversity is the overall theme, and Pintilie treats it with some sensitivity. With Kristin Scott Thomas, Claudiu Bleont, and Marcel Iures. —Jonathan Rosenbaum 82 min. Sat 5/5, 5 and 9 PM, and Sat 5/12, 3 PM