Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel

Remote Control (2001) ***

Directed by Ivan Zivkovic. Written by Scott Barman & Mr. Zivkovic. Produced by Peter Veverka. Photography, Imre Juhasz. Production design, William Budge & Nicole Lobart. Cast: Branko Tomovic, Jesse Patric, Maciek Bakowski, Jill Basey. 24 minutes.

An interesting short movie for which the director received a well-deserved Best Student Film award at the 2001 Atlanta Festival.

It takes place in Croatia at some unspecified point during Yugoslavia's Civil War. Three gun-totting young soldiers in an Army truck have been assigned, for reasons not given, a post somewhere in the countryside. They park close to a farmhouse whose only occupant is an old lady.

The men, bored --and cigaretteless until they find some in a wrecked car-have been listening to football news on the radio. The old lady, who does not utter a single word throughout, has a pretty large Toshiba TV set which the soldiers appropriate, and almost surrealistically set up outside the house. Watching a soccer game on TV is of major importance to them.

But while they manage to bring electricity to the set, they cannot make the Toshiba work without a remote control --which cannot be found. They keep bugging (an approximate term) the woman for it. She remains mute.

That's as far as I can go. The viewer will easily realize that this short, in its essential simplicity, is an anti-war work. The characters are minimally sketched out, but that's all that's needed.

The curious aspect of "Remote Control" (a term that may well have an additional meaning) is that it was entirely shot in Los Angeles yet has a 100% look and feel of Yugoslavia. The soldiers speak Serbo-Croat. Tomovic (born in Germany) bears a Yugo name. Petrick (born in Moscow, Idaho) is most likely the U.S. spelling of "Petric" (correctly pronounced "Petrich." Bakowski (about whom I found zero information) may be either Polish or Yugoslav. Other names among the production and crew people sound Hungarian or Czech or Polish.

Strangely, the award-winning writer-director Ivan Zivkovic has earlier credits as assistant or second assistant director in three Yugo movies : Tito and Me (1992,) Pretty Village, Pretty Flame (1997) and Rane (Wounds)(1998.)

By the way, I recommend all three titles above, if you can find them.

Obviously my curiosity is piqued. Yours may not be-- but you will still be fooled into thinking that this is a European film.

Definitely recommended. I will keep an eye out for the makers and performers, while wishing them "happy features."

Copyright © Edwin Jahiel

Movie Reviews by Edwin Jahiel