Goodbye, 20th Century!

1998, Movie, NR, 90 mins


A generous helping of Jodorowskian surrealism, some punk nihilism à la Alex Cox and a dollop of THE ROAD WARRIOR are just the beginning of the recipe that produced this bizarre apocalyptic fairy tale that marks the feature film debut of Macedonian filmmakers Aleksander Popovski and Darko Mitrevski. It opens in 2019 in post-apocalyptic Macedonia, as a group of black-clad nomads march the oddly unrepentant Kuzman (NiKola Ristanovski) to his execution on a desolate hill. Trouble is, Kuzman won't die; no matter how many bullets are poured into his body, he keeps getting back up, scarcely the worse for wear. He's finally abandoned on the hill where, after nightfall, he encounters an enigmatic barber prophet (Vlado Jovanovski). The two exchange stories, and Kuzman embarks on a quest to find a wall on which the future of all mankind is written. The second story, a brief tale of incest and family revenge, is set in 1919 and presented in the form of a sepia-toned newsreel shot by none other than the barber prophet. The third is set on New Year's Eve, 1999, as a disgruntled Santa Claus (Lazar Ristovski) has a brief, hostile conversation with a child named Kuzman, then ambles home, only to find his landlord presiding over a wake and the barber prophet grooming the deceased in his room. The solemn ceremony degenerates into vulgar free-for-all, at which point Santa (or might that be Satan?) takes matters into his own bloody hands. This synopsis hardly does the film justice; its stunning production design and cinematography, careful repetition of key images and witty juggling of characters between the three stories simultaneously produce a sense of cheerful anarchy into which the filmmakers skillfully weave an obsessive, inchoate sense of loss. It's simultaneously cartoonish and elusive, a haunting work of aggressive pop art. (In Macedonian, with English Subtitles.) leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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Goodbye, 20th Century!
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