21 June 2023

This Film Rolls


 I'd like to tell you about a movie I saw recently, one which I suspect you have never heard of.

A funny thing about movies: Some of the best ones don't become immediate hits in part because the studio can't figure out how to market them.  And I'm not really blaming the studio. (Not for that, anyway. I'm happy to blame for a lot of other things.)

Consider three of my favorite flicks: Galaxy Quest, The Princess Bride, and A Christmas Story.  If you have seen them, ask yourself how to sum them up in one sentence (the so-called "logline") in a way that makes them sound irresistable or even appealing.  Well, a grandfather reads a sick child an old novel about a girl who falls in love with a farmboy, and there's a giant, and a Spanish swordsman, and Rodents of Unusual Size...

Eventually each of those movies became a cult classic, because of word of mouth.

I doubt if the  movie I'm about to describe is destined for cult status, but it is one that is hard to summarize in a helpful way.  Please don't reject it immediately when I describe it. One thing is for certain: the title doesn't help.

Kills on Wheels (2016) is a Hungarian movie (with subtitles) written and directed by Attila Till. The protagonist is Zoli, a young man who suffers from a birth defect which will kill him unless he has an operation.  He is tired of thinking about that and only wants to create graphic novels.  “Why am I always the cripple?  It’s someone else’s turn now.”

His roommate, Barba, suffers from a serious palsy condition.

Into their life comes Janos, who was a fireman until an on-the-job accident made him a paraplegic.  To say he is not adjusting well is a gross understatement.

Assassin and Boss

But now Janos is making serious money as a hit man for a Yugoslavian crime boss.  You may be saying: A disabled assassin? That's hard to believe.

And that's exactly what Janos' victims die thinking.

By this point you may be thinking this is a dumb exploitation flick: Supercrip shoots 'em up!  It isn't. There is a heck of a lot more going on than it may appear.  

The acting is very good but I especially want to take note of two actors who come to the field in unusual ways.  Zoltan Fenyvesi plays Zoli.  This is his first acting gig, after the director discovered him through his Instagram account, wheelchairguy.  And Dusan Vitanovics plays the sinister crime lord.  The actor's day job?  He's a neurosurgeon.

I saw the film on Kanopy.  I recommend it. 

1 comment:

  1. As I was reading the first three paragraphs, I was thinking of all the articles that carelessly label such films (and I agree with your choices plus a few others) that would call them ‘cult films’. My favorite television series, The Prisoner, is a ‘cult item’. Even my favorite computer (Macintosh Duo) was a ‘cult item’. Writers fall back on this because of a failure of understanding or perhaps laziness. Bah!

    I haven’t seen the film, Rob, but now I hope to. I also have a ‘cult’ foreign film favorite about an assassin with a major disability, which I wrote about long ago, The Alzheimer’s Case.


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