The Florida Project
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
The End of Fear (Barbara Visser over)
Doof kind
Let's Go Crazy!

Fine, Thanks (Dakujem, dobre)

Slovakia, 2013 | Mátyás Prikler
Ivo De Kock checks in from Ghent to report on Fine, Thanks, and finds its documentary-style story of a family and society in crisis too bleak and humourless for its own good.

"What is cinema?" Jean-Paul Belmondo asks (with the voice of Jean-Luc Godard) in Charlotte et son Jules. "It's a big head making faces in a small room. You have to be stupid to love this. I know what I'm saying, cinema is the art of illusion." This is one of those spiritual, philosophical Godard quotes we like to post on our Facebook walls or pin on the cinema section of our personal library. Right next to Bruce Willis' famous "the written word is going the way of the dinosaurs."

Serious and funny words side by side with stupid and hilarious ones. There are always hidden truths and secret references in the dialogues and quotes Godard provides in his typical deadpan style. In this case the statement made by film lover and dictator Joseph Stalin: "Cinema is the art of illusion, yet it dictates its laws to life itself." But humour is also involved when Godard takes to the screen.

It has always played a big part in his cinema. Not the fast-paced verbal comedy we associate with the Marx Brothers, Monty Python or Quentin Tarantino, but the physical comedy Buster Keaton, Jerry Lewis and Jacques Tati transformed into an art. Godard's comedy is the comedy of the lonely child and the maladjusted adult.

In his films the silliness and humour of a situation are almost always linked with a moment in time when a movie character blatantly ignores certain 'codes'. Because he or she doesn't know or doesn't want to know these codes. If there's one thing all Godard movies share it is their distrust of such restrictive codes, and the ability to combine the search for a deeper truth with a mission to make us smile.

Godard showed us that movies can make us think and laugh about life. Comedy can make us laugh about something really sad, drama can have us cry about absurd and ridiculous situations, and Godard mixes it all up. A bout de souffle was a comical crime movie, an illustration of Jerry Lewis's maxim that "a man in trouble is the starting point of each comedy." It was also an hommage to Monogram Pictures, the small American production company specialised in B-movies.

What characterized these B-movies was the lack of time and care that was spent on them due to the extremely low budgets Monogram provided. Poor acting, shabby photography and stupid stylistic mistakes led to a different (read: lower) quality compared with productions made by the Hollywood majors. In other words, there wasn't enough money available to make 'good' movies, to make movies 'by the book'. This relationship between money and cultural codes fascinated Godard throughout his carreer.

There was a difference, though, between those B-movies and Godard's Belmondo and Seberg movie. Directors like Jacques Tourneur, Edgar G. Ulmer and Joseph H. Lewis were not happy at all about their status as B-movie directors and they tried their best to come as close as possible, given the financial means at their disposal, to the traditionel form of a classical Hollywood movie. They were eagerly looking to ascertain an A-status.

With Godard, things were different. When A bout de souffle was released in 1959, the former film critic had to deal with journalists and filmmakers who called him incompetent because of the 'mistakes' he obviosly made. It took a while before it was clear to everybody that Godard had edited his film in such a way that those 'mistakes' became visible. The limitations B-movie-makers endured due to financial hardship became something else in Godards hands: the results of an esthetical choice. The cards were on the table. It would lead to a wonderful game, bewildering moviegoers with films that incorporate jokes, experiments and metaphorical statements.

Nowadays Godard is a figure from the past and what is worse, 'le cinéma d'auteur' has pushed comedy out the door, just as it has done with 'deconstructing the codes'. These thoughts sped through my mind when I watched screenwriter/director Mátyás Priklers selfconscious slow cinema effort Fine, Thanks (Dakujem, dobre), based on his eponymous medium-lenght graduation movie (a festival favorite that made it to the Cannes Cinéfondation selection in 2010). It's a fine and well-made movie, with a respect for the codes that will please festivaldwellers — but why so serious?

Especially with a title as ironic as Fine, Thanks. Prikler states that "everybody asks 'How are you?' and they are often answered with 'Fine, thanks'; still you might never know what is behind this commonplace." And he adds "I'm a slow person myself, so it felt natural for the movie to also be slow."

Prikler cleverly links the desintegration of a family and an Eastern European capitalist society when both are deeply in crisis — an emotional crisis implicating family members and a financial crisis touching company workers. We follow the fights and the growing distress of the characters only to discover more secrets and problems. The protagonists are victims in a bigger drama (loss leads to anger and frustration) and they are all 'in the same boat' (a boss turns out to be a family member).

Fine, Thanks is an unflattering portrait of people whose professional and personal relations are destroyed during a kind of war, an economic crisis leading to an ailing society. Financial problems (and a hidden secret) affect the intimate lives of the characters and their twisted relations. But the main focus stays on human disasters. Unlike his short, that focused on an aged couple, Priklers movie combines three stories in which Slovenians fight divorce, death and alcoholism. An employer is confronted with problems at home and in his company, an older man loses his wife and his independent life, and his son has trouble coping with divorce and a personal tragedy. The characters find each other during a funeral and, finally, a wedding party. Hope clashes with sadness and bitterness. "You just don't get hung up on just one man", a drunken mother mumbles to the bride, who replies: "Thanks mom, for telling me that on my wedding day."

Humour at last! Because up to that point this has been an unnecessarily dark and depressing movie. A movie that tries too hard to seem authentic by using a documentary style, with a handheld camera observing — without extra light — and trying not to be voyeuristic about it. But the hidden camera point of view that Prykler uses is much too selfconscious and the 'documentary style' underlines in a demonstrative way the 'reality' of the situations, not the cinematographic codes that are used to tell this story.

"Sometimes it looks like something can even be beautiful in this life", one of the anti-heroes says when he's confronted with beautiful light while driving. The camera stays in the back seat so we only get a glimpse of this thing of beauty. No coincidence, for up till then the 'no future' atmosphere is striking. The radio plays Simon and Garfunkel ("no one dared disturb the sound of silence") followed by depressing news flashes ("hundreds of people are losing their jobs due to the economical crisis"). An elderly couple argue about the ownership of their appartment ("I need to lie down, I can't go on any more", the woman concludes before dying off camera). An employer questions the loyalty of a worker ("does your family pay your wages?"). A woman shouts "I hate him, he destroyed my life" from her terrace in a hysterical outburst ("sometimes she yells, sometimes she's in a rage, we'll deal with that too", her husbands concludes). An old man whispers "I don't want diapers."

Mátyás Priklers cinema is a big head making grave faces in a small room, too serious and selfconscious for its own good. Fine, Thanks lacks humour, silliness, a story that changes pace and direction in an unpredictable way, risky esthetical choices, daring experiments, crazy ideas and an irreverent attitude towards codes and metaphors. Here's a movie that shows and tells us what we already know. It could have been one about what we don't know yet, one that shows us unfamiliar colors, worlds and emotions, with a dose of humour and a pinch of craziness, unafraid to appear incompetent and to toy with expectations. Let's go crazy!

Ivo De Kock is a film critic (de Filmkrant, Streven, rekto:verso, DeWereldMorgen.be, Filmmagie), a former strategic developer in advertising and a lifelong cinephile.



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Fine, Thanks (Dakujem, dobre)

Filmkrant #351, February 2013

Slow Criticism 2013

Titelindex


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F

F FOR FAKE
LE FABULEUX DESTIN D'AMÉLIE POULAIN
Faccia a faccia
FACE
The Face of an Angel
The Face of Love
FACE/OFF
FACES
Facing Mirrors
FACTORY GIRL
FACTOTUM
THE FACULTY
Fading Gigolo
FADOS
FAIL SAFE
FAILURE TO LAUNCH
FAIR GAME (Andrew Sipes)
FAIR GAME (Doug Liman)
Fair Wind (Fahrtwind)
FAIRUZ — WE HIELDEN ZOVEEL VAN MEKAAR
FAIRY TALE — A TRUE STORY
Faith Connections
FAITHFUL
FAITHLESS
FALCONE
FALKENBERG FAREWELL
THE FALL
FALL TIME
FALLEN
FALLEN ANGELS
A Fallible Girl
FALLING DOWN
DIE FÄLSCHER
FAME
FAMILIA RODANTE
FAMILIE
De familie Slim
FAMILIEGEHEIM
Familieweekend
La famille Bélier
A Family
FAMILY
A Family Affair
The Family Fang
FAMILY FILES
THE FAMILY MAN
A Family Quartet
THE FAN
FANFAN LA TULIPE
FANNY & ALEXANDER
FANTASIA 2000
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Four (Josh Trank)
FANTASTIC FOUR (Tim Story)
FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER
FANTASTIC MR. FOX
Les fantômes d'Ismaël
FAR AND AWAY
FAR FROM HEAVEN
Far from the Madding Crowd
FAREWELL
FAREWELL MY CONCUBINE
The Farewell Party
A Farewell to Arms
FARGO
FARINELLI, IL CASTRATO
Fashion Chicks
FAST & FURIOUS
FAST & FURIOUS 5
Fast & Furious 7
Fast & Furious 8
Fast and Furious 6
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS
FAST AND THE FURIOUS 3
FAST FOOD FAST WOMEN
Fata morgana
Fataal (Jesse Bleekemolen over)
FATAL REACTION: BOMBAY
FATAL REACTION: NEW YORK
FATAL REACTION: SINGAPORE
FATELESS
FATHER AND SON (OTETS I SIN)
Father Figures
FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART 2
FATHER'S DAY
FATHERLAND
The Fault in Our Stars
Faust (Aleksander Sokoerov)
FAUST (F.W. Murnau)
FAUST (LECKE FAUST)
FEAR
Fear and Desire
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS
THE FEAR INSIDE ME
FEARLESS (Peter Weir)
FEARLESS (Ronny Yu)
Fedora
FEEL THE NOISE
FEELING MINNESOTA
FEESTJE!
FELICE...FELICE...
FELICIA'S JOURNEY
Félicité
Félix & Meira
FÉLIX ET LOLA
FELLINI DVD-BOX
FEMALE PERVERSIONS
LA FEMME DE GILLES
FEMME FATALE
LES FEMMES DE 6ÈME ETAGE
LES FEMMES... OU LES ENFANTS D'ABORD
Fences
Ferdinand
FERIEN
FERNGULLY, THE LAST RAINFOREST
FESTEN
FESTIVAL EXPRESS
Feuchtgebiete
Feuten: het feestje
FEVER PITCH
A Few Best Men
A FEW GOOD MEN
FEW OF US
Le fidèle
Fidelio
A Field in England
FIERCE CREATURES
Fietsen naar de maan
FIETSMUG & DANSMUG
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
The Fifth Estate
FIFTY DEAD MEN WALKING
Fifty Shades Darker
Fifty Shades of Black
Fifty Shades of Grey
FIGHT CLUB
THE FIGHTER
FIGHTING
Fighting fish
THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS
FIGNER, THE END OF A SILENT CENTURY
LE FIL DE L'HORIZON
Fill the Void
LA FILLE D'ARTAGNAN
La fille de Brest
LA FILLE DE L'AIR
LA FILLE DU RER
La fille inconnu
LA FILLE SUR LE PONT
LES FILLES DU BOTANISTE
A Film About Coffee
FILM IST. A GIRL & A GUN
A FILM WITH ME IN IT
FILMPJE!
THE FILMS OF ALEJANDRO JODOROWSKY
THE FILMS OF JEAN ROLLIN
THE FILMS OF KENNETH ANGER VOLUME TWO
LE FILS
Le fils de Jean
Le fils de l'autre
LE FILS DE L'EPICIER
THE FILTH AND THE FURY
FIN AOÛT, DÉBUT SEPTEMBRE
THE FINAL CURTAIN
THE FINAL DESTINATION
FINAL DESTINATION
FINAL DESTINATION 2
FINAL DESTINATION 3
Final Destination 5 3D
FINAL FANTASY VII
FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN
Final Portrait
FIND ME GUILTY
Finding Dory
FINDING FORRESTER
FINDING NEMO
Finding Nemo 3D
FINDING NEVERLAND
THE FINE ART OF LOVE
Fine, Thanks (Dakujem, dobre)
The Finest Hours
LA FINESTRA DI FRONTE
Finn
IL FIORE DELLE MILLE E UNA NOTTE
FIORILE
FIRE
FIREFLIES IN THE GARDEN
FIREWALL
THE FIRM (Alan Clarke)
THE FIRM (Sydney Pollack)
FIRST KILL
FIRST KNIGHT
FIRST MISSION
FIRST STRIKE
THE FIRST WIVES CLUB
THE FISH FALL IN LOVE
FISH TANK
Fissa
Fist Fight
Five Came Back
FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN
THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS
THE FIVE SENSES
The Five-Year Engagement
FIXING IN THE SHADOW
FL 19,99
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
FLAMENCO, FLAMENCO
Flandres
DE FLAT
Flatliners
FLAWLESS
FLED
LA FLEUR DU MAL
UN FLIC
Flight
FLIGHT OF THE PHOENIX
FLIGHTPLAN
THE FLINTSTONES
THE FLINTSTONES IN VIVA ROCK VEGAS
FLIPPER
FLIRT (Hal Hartley)
FLIRT (Jaap van Eyck)
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER
Flits & het magische huis 3D
FLOATING LIFE
THE FLOCK
FLODDER 3
Florence Foster Jenkins
The Florida Project
FLORIS
FLUBBER
FLUSHED AWAY
FLY AWAY HOME
Flypaper
Focus (Glenn Ficarra, John Requa)
FOCUS (Neal Slavin)
FOEKSIA DE MINIHEKS
THE FOG
THE FOG OF WAR
La folie Almayer
FOLIE PRIVÉE
FOLLOWING
FONS RADEMAKERS DVD-BOX
FOOL'S GOLD
Footloose
Footnote
FOR FUN
FOR LOVE OF THE GAME
FOR MY BABY
FOR ROSEANNA
For Those in Peril
THE FORBIDDEN KINGDOM
THE FORBIDDEN QUEST
The Forbidden Room (Previously Unreleased)
FORCE OF EVIL
FORCES OF NATURE
FOREIGN LAND
The Foreigner
The Forest
FOREVER
FOREVER FEVER
FOREVER YOUNG
Forget Me Not
FORGET PARIS
FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL
The Forgiveness of Blood
FORGOTTEN SILVER
THE FORGOTTEN SPACE
Formula 1
FORREST GUMP
FORTRESS
FORTY GUNS
The Founder
THE FOUNTAIN
THE FOUNTAINHEAD
FOUR BROTHERS
FOUR DAYS IN SEPTEMBER
FOUR EYED MONSTERS
THE FOUR FEATHERS
Four Lions
FOUR ROOMS
FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL
FOURBI
THE FOX AND THE CHILD
Foxcatcher
Foxfire
FRACTURE
FRAGILE
FRAILTY
LA FRANCE
Frances Ha
Francofonia
FRANÇOIS OZON DVD-BOX
Frank (Lenny Abrahamson over)
FRANK CAPRA COLLECTION
FRANK ZAPPA: PHASE II — THE BIG NOTE
Frankenweenie
Franny
FRANS ZWARTJES, THE GREAT CINEMA MAGICIAN
Frantz
Die Frau des Polizisten
FRAUDS
FREAKY FRIDAY
FRED CLAUS
FREDDY THE FROG
FREDDY VS. JASON
Free Birds
Free Fire
Free in Deed
Free Range (Retrospectief Veiko Õunpuu)
Free State of Jones
FREE WILLY
FREE WILLY 2
FREEDOM
FREEDOM WRITERS
Freeheld
DER FREIE WILLE
DIE FREMDE
FRENCH KISS
FREQUENCY
FRESA Y CHOCOLATE
FRESH
FRESH AIR
FRIDA
FRIDAY THE 13TH (2009)
FRIENDS
The Friends of Eddie Coyle
Friends with Benefits
Friends with Kids
Fright Night
THE FRIGHTENERS
DIE FRISEUSE
Frits & Franky
FRITZ LANG COLLECTION
FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
FROM HELL
FROM PARIS WITH LOVE
FROM THE JOURNALS OF JEAN SEBERG
FROST/NIXON
FROWNLAND
Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee)
FROZEN (Wang Xiaoshuai)
The Frozen Ground
FROZEN LAND
FROZEN RIVER
Frozen Sing-A-Long
Fruitvale Station
FUCKING ÅMÅL
FUDOH
THE FUGITIVE
DE FÛKE
Fukushima, mon amour
Full Contact
FULL FRONTAL
THE FULL MONTY
FUN WITH DICK AND JANE
THE FUNERAL
FUNNY BONES
FUNNY GAMES U.S.
FUNNY HA HA
FUNNY PEOPLE
Fuocoammare
FUR: AN IMAGINARY PORTRAIT OF DIANE ARBUS
THE FURIES
Fury
The Fury of a Patient Man
The Future
Il futuro