New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

REVIEW: "Cold War"

By Eric Hillis, TheMovieWaffler.com

originally published: 09/27/2018

REVIEW: "Cold War"

Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Perhaps writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski viewed The Lives of Others and came away with the same thought, as his latest film, Cold War, explores exactly such a notion, summed up in a scene where a character suggests to her lover that they move to the other side of a road. “Perhaps the view will be better over there.”

The characters in question are Zula (Joanna Kulig) and Wiktor (Tomasz Kot), who over the course of Pawlikowski’s relatively brief film, engage in a turbulent, on-off relationship that spans three decades and both sides of the Iron Curtain.

REVIEW: "Cold War"

They meet in 1949 Poland, when Zula is chosen to audition at a state school for those possessing musical attributes, a sort of communist ‘Poland’s Got Talent’ where pianist Wiktor acts as a Simon Cowell figure, deciding which ‘peasants’ should represent Polish culture and which should be sent back to the mountains. Though she fails to impress Wiktor’s female co-selector, the teenage Zula’s looks and feistiness strike a chord with the older man, who selects her for a place at the school and soon embarks on a sexual relationship with his student.

One day Zula confesses that she has been secretly working for the Polish authorities, who have suspicions about Wiktor’s political allegiances. While on a trip to East Berlin for a festival of music involving Europe’s various communist nations, Wiktor attempts to convince Zula to flee across the border with him, but she chickens out at the last moment, leaving him to begin a new life in Paris on his own.



The article continues after this ad

 


Unable to return to his homeland where he would face a lengthy imprisonment, Wiktor assumes he has seen the last of his young lover, but over the next two decades, Zula and Wiktor are reunited and then separated several times.

In one of Wiktor and Zula’s first interactions, Wiktor has his student practice her vocal range, literally manipulating her voice with the keys of his piano. Once in a relationship with Zula however, Wiktor finds he is unable to pull her strings to his demands, a frustration that will disrupt the relationship over the next 15 years. The image reoccurs later, in ‘60s Paris, when Wiktor is producing Zula’s jazz record, and finds that as both producer and lover, he is unable to communicate his ideas to the woman he nevertheless can’t live without.

Like their previous collaboration, 2013’s Ida, Pawlikowski and his cinematographer Łukasz Żal shoot in black and white in academy ratio, creating some truly stunning images, the narrow frame reflecting the claustrophobia of some of the scenarios the film’s protagonists find themselves trapped in. With so much time devoted to the various musical performances Wiktor and Zula engage in, Cold War might qualify as a musical by some viewers’ metrics. The tunes are so catchy and fresh to audiences outside Pawlikowski’s homeland, that it could do for Polish folk tunes what the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou? did for Appalachian bluegrass.

Kulig is an actress I’ve seen in many a supporting role in various Polish and French films, including Pawlikoski’s The Woman in the Fifth and Ida, and she grasps the chance to take centre stage here with all the pent up fury of a teenage girl given three minutes to impress a talent show jury.

For all the pretty images conjured up by Pawlikowski and Żal, the performances of Kulig and Kot are what hold the narrative together. I have to confess I struggled to invest in their characters’ romantic relationship - one which begins with both parties taking advantage of their opposite’s vulnerabilities and never really seems to progress beyond any superficial, surface level attraction - but Kulig and Kol are so mesmeric in the roles that it was only after the credits rolled that I came to this conclusion, my decision perhaps exacerbated by the movie ending with a preposterously melodramatic grand gesture that suggests it was penned by an overly emotional teenager.

Cold War 3  ½  stars out of 5

 

Directed by:  Pawel Pawlikowski

Starring: Joanna Kulig, Tomasz Kot, Borys Szyc, Agata Kulesza, Cédric Kahn







For more by this author, click here



2018 International Film Festival Brings 4 Award Winning Foreign Films To Vineland
(VINELAND, NJ) -- Enjoy four highly-acclaimed award-winning recent foreign films representing diverse cultures at the 2018 International Film Festival, starting Monday, November 26, at the Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville, NJ. The four films—A Fantastic Woman, The Interpreter, 1945, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me—will introduce the theatergoer to the universality of themes that are common to Jewish and other international themes. They are representative of the finest of today’s international cinematographic art.
John T. LaBarbera Presents Charlie Chaplin's “The Immigrant” with New Original Score
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Performer, composer, and author John T. LaBarbera performs his original score for Charlie Chaplin’s The Immigrant at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck on October 28 at 4:00pm. LaBarbera’s score creates an emotional atmosphere through the melodic themes that are reminiscent of the Italian immigrant music published during the early 20th century. Chaplin’s 1917 comedy about his own experiences as an immigrant draws on parallels of the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley which inform LaBarbera’s composition, highlighting the comedic and romantic aspects of the film through ragtime style, slapstick references, and melodic leitmotif that adorn the film’s narrative.
NJSO presents Star Wars: A New Hope in concert on Thanksgiving weekend
(NEWARK, NJ) --The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents screenings of the complete film Star Wars: A New Hope with Oscar-winning composer John Williams’ musical scores performed live on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23–25. Performances take place in Red Bank, Newark, and New Brunswick.
East Lynne Theater Company presents "Poe" and "Dr. Jekyll"
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- The award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company presents two events in time for Halloween: "Poe by Candlelight" on Saturday, October 20 at 8:00pm and the classic silent thriller, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," accompanied by Wayne Zimmerman on the organ, on Sunday, October 21 at 7:30pm, both at The First Presbyterian Church, 500 Hughes Street in Cape May, where the theater is in residence.
Basie Center Celebrates Dia De Los Muertos With "Coco" Benefit Screening And Community Ofrenda
(RED BANK, NJ) -- The nonprofit Count Basie Center for the Arts will present a big-screen showing of Disney’s Coco as part of its annual celebration of Dia de los Muertos, sponsored by Basie’s partner program Calpulli Mexican Dance Company. The screening, which takes place on Saturday, November 3 at 11:00am, will also serve as a fundraiser for the Red Bank Borough School District, which will receive half of all tickets sold.


REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Baba Babee Skazala
Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  
NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  
REVIEW: "Black 47"
In a year that has offered cinemagoers culturally distinctive takes on the western genre from countries as disparate as Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts) and South Africa (Five Fingers for Marseille), it’s no surprise to find Irish cinema adopting the tropes of that most traditionally American of genres.
Michael Gallagher’s terrific comedy Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!
Michael Gallagher’s terrific feature Funny Story Premiere’s at the Fall 2018 New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, September 14!

From Our Magazine

REVIEW: "Cold War"

REVIEW: "Cold War"

Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.


Baba Babee Skazala

Baba Babee Skazala

Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  


NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018

NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018

(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  


REVIEW: "Black 47"

REVIEW: "Black 47"

In a year that has offered cinemagoers culturally distinctive takes on the western genre from countries as disparate as Australia (Sweet Country), Indonesia (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts) and South Africa (Five Fingers for Marseille), it’s no surprise to find Irish cinema adopting the tropes of that most traditionally American of genres.








Event calendar
Sunday, Oct 21, 2018


MUSIC

DiTrani Bros: Folk, Swing, Jazz, Ragtime!! @ Roxy and Dukes Roadhouse, Dunellen - 7:00pm

Jazz Guitarist Abe Ovadia @ Englewood Public Library, Englewood - 7:00pm

Gypsy Jazz Brunch with Pyrenesia and Max Hansen Buffet @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

Dryden Ensemble: Bach Cantata Fest @ Miller Chapel (Princeton), Princeton - 3:00pm

Suzzanne Douglas @ South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), South Orange - 7:30pm


THEATRE

The Ghost Princess @ Pax Amicus Castle Theatre, Budd Lake - 2:00pm

The Shuck @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 3:00pm

CDC Theatre presents A Few Good Men @ CDC Theatre, Cranford - 2:00pm

Wait Until Dark @ Somerset Valley Playhouse, Hillsborough - 8:00pm

World Premier of, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, A Horror of a Play @ Forum Theatre (Metuchen), Metuchen - 3:00pm

The Color Purple @ Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn - 1:30pm and 7:00pm

Almost, Maine @ Jay & Linda Grunin Center For The Arts At Ocean County College, Toms River - 2:00pm

Black Tom Island @ The 1882 Carriage House, Liberty Hall Museum, Union - 3:00pm

*Uncle Vanya, Scenes from a Jersey Life in Four Acts @ Hudson Theatre Works, Weehawken - 7:00pm

Black Coffee by Agatha Christie @ Westfield Community Players, Westfield - 2:00pm







DANCE

DRACULA - THE ATLANTIC CITY BALLET @ The Strand Theater, Lakewood - 4:00pm


FILM

A conversation with John Cusack Following a screening of Say Anything @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:00pm


KIDS

Summit Farmers Market Pumpkin Painting @ Summit Farmers Market, Summit - 10:00am


POETRY

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival @ Victoria Theater @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 9:00am


MISC

HAUNTED ILLUSIONS LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 3:00pm

THE MAGIC OF BILL BLAGG LIVE! @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 2:00pm

View all events










 
















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.