Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Turin Horse

In a world of tortured auteurs making agonized films for pointy-headed cineastes, let's hear it for a crowd pleaser that aims only to entertain: Bela Tarr's lighthearted romp "The Turin Horse," about an Italian cabbie and his wisecracking daughter who get into all manner of wacky misadventures in the windswept countryside. It's as light, fizzy and disposable as ...a flute of cocktail-party champagne.

Tarr structures the picture as a series of events, leading from "The First Day" to "The Sixth Day" - which may evoke memories of 2000's equally enjoyable Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of that name. Along the way, good-looking co-stars Janos Derzsi and Erika Bok bring a delightful comic sensibility - often deadpan, but with moments of almost manic energy. Their names may be new to you, but I think you're going to be seeing a lot more of them.

Tarr also co-wrote the screenplay, and he's gifted his cast with some crackling dialogue. (Watch what happens when Bok tells Derzsi his horse isn't moving.) But there's also a physical element to the picture; you haven't seen things like this done to a potato since the food fights in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Perhaps the high point of the picture comes when the two are attacked by gypsies, a scene you may watch while holding your fingers in front of your face.

Tarr holds each scene just long enough to extract maximum comic impact - never too long (the running time flies by). He's said this is going to be his final film, and if so he's gone out with a bang: "The Turin Horse" is the feelgood movie of the year.

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