Movie: Contrary to what has been said about foreign cinema by populists over the years, a lot of it deals with common themes; themes ingrained in people from backgrounds so different that you'd never guess how many similarities they had. I too once thought this way but after watching a lot of good (and bad) flicks, I learned that my previous concepts were off base. Growth is part of life and I can accept this fact. That said, humor doesn't always translate as well as those universal themes do unless it is firmly rooted in ideas common to our existence. In one film that presents the sleazy side of politics in a fashion everyone will understand (and hopefully appreciate), Career Of Nikos Dyzma (AKA: Kariera Nikosia Dyzmy), comedian Cezary Pazura, presents an "every man" thrust into the world of politics where he finds himself way too comfortable at what goes on.
The movie started off by showing a man, Nikos, as an employee of a funeral parlor in Poland. Barely making ends meet, he struggles through life with his two co-workers, wishing he'd be able to do better but the circumstances of the Universe always seem to squelch his desires of cold vodka, hot women, and an easy life. The only thing he has going for him is a silver tongue, one that can't even convince his boss to give him a raise, until one day, having been stranded by his co-working pals at the home of a wealthy client, he signs for a letter addressed to the now dead man. The letter is an invitation to a dinner party, and his friends convince him to go. After all, what's the worst thing they'll do to him (kick him out)?
While at the party, an important government minister bumps into him and the working slob makes a fuss about it. The minister meekly walks away and soon after, a host of political gadflies surround Nikos, thanking him and singing his praises. Nikos is unaware that the man he just insulted could have him killed or taken away with a thought so the now drunk man soon is the center of attention to the myriad of detractors the minister has acquired over the years.
One by one, his new friends attempt to curry his favor, mistaking him for an important economist rather than a bumbling slob (not any particular economist either). From mob bosses to Senators to Cabinet appointee's, everyone fawns at his feet. Along the way, he espouses populist views that get the people behind him as well and before long, he develops enemies, to the point where they blow up his car in an assassination attempt. At every step of his meteoric rise to power, his down-to-Earth approach is taken alternately as brilliance or cunning and the humor derives as much from the situations as how he handles the progression.
The acting was fairly decent, particularly Pazura's comedic talents put to good use, but the others were okay too. While the themes of political instability and bureaucracy rose time and again, his way of dealing with them made for the same appeal as domestically released movies have done over the years as well. I think the adult themes might scare away some audiences, the movie had a fair amount of nudity, but it all fit into place given the situation. That said, I think the movie was worth a rating of Recommended to anyone in need of a good laugh, this being an election year (at least on a local level in my city).
Picture: The picture was presented in 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color and looked very solid considering the budget and origin of the movie. There was some grain, a few spots with a touch of video noise, and even the occasional film print scratch but if you're going to watch a movie with a magnifying glass, you'll be missing out on the fun of the content. Compared to a low budget domestic release, it would only rate about average but I enjoyed it just the same.
Sound: The audio was presented with a choice of either a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround or DTS Polish track with optional subtitles in English or German. They were bright yellow and always easy to read although a few errors in spelling and grammar were noticed (and I'm not a leading authority on either so you can bet there were more). In all, there didn't seem to be a lot of separation between the two channels but the vocals and music were clear enough to rate average.
Extras: The best extra would have been the Behind the Scenes featurette except for the fact that it was presented in Polish with no English subtitles. There were also trailers, a photogallery, and cast biographies as well as a double-sided DVD cover.
Final Thoughts: I liked the movie, almost enough to give it a rating of highly recommended, but I just felt the lack of English language extras and the variety of minor flaws prevented from doing so with a clear conscience. Those who frequent art house movie theaters will likely find the movie too low brow to fully appreciate but it was clever in many cases and the themes really were as universal as the humor. It's worth a look to anyone that doesn't hate subtitles.