Slobodan Sijan – Maratonci trce pocasni krug AKA The Marathon Family (1982)

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Sometimes handling the dead can be almost as difficult as handling the living, according to the Topalovic family and its many members — from great-grandparents on down. They are losing ground in the fight to keep their cemetery business from going under and have had to make a clandestine alliance with n’er-do-well entrepreneurs that will supply them with recycled coffins at a cheap price — an alliance that has kept the family in heavy debt to the grave-digging crooks. Meanwhile, young Mirko Topalovic has fallen in love with the daughter of one of the increasingly wealthy partners in the used coffin business. She works for a movie theater as a pianist (it is the era when silents are on the way out) and the owner of the theater has not yet fired her and switched to talkies because he wants her for himself. He suggests that they make a movie together — an erotic movie he thinks to himself — but seduction is his only goal. When Mirko starts to help out in this movie project, he comes to realize what is actually going on and overpowered by rage, he kills the woman and the theater owner. Puffed up with his aggressive deed, he goes home to convince the Topalovic family that they have to take up arms against the usurious grave-diggers — and a wild and bloody melée ensues that will determine the fate of the family. Jelisaveta Sablic won the “Best Actress” award at the 1982 Pula Film Festival for her role as the sought-after female lead in this film. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Slobodan Sijan – Ko to tamo peva? aka Who’s singing over there? (1980)

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“I’m miserable,” a Gypsy accordionist sings, cheerfully, straight into the camera during the very first scene of director Slobodan Sijan’s 1980 film Who’s Singin’ Over There? “I was born that way/ I sing, to sing away my pain/ How I wish, mother dear, that this life had all been but a dream!” And the rest of this tart, raunchy, surprisingly affecting movie proceeds accordingly, ushering a bus-full of interestingly flawed rural types through a meandering journey to Belgrade on the eve of the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia. Callous and clueless by turns, the characters spend their last 24 hours together arguing, accusing and assaulting each other, blissfully unaware of how insignificant their petty personal obsessions will soon become. And does it all end happily? Don’t make me laugh — unless you then go on to make me choke up right afterwards. Continue reading