Tag Archives: József Gallai

Moth (2016, Gergö Elekes and József Gallai)

Most of Moth is “found footage,” only really not because it’s multi-camera found footage and at some point, directors Elekes and Gallai push too hard on the concept and break it. The film tracks the progress of university lecturer Lídia Szabó as she investigates Mothman sightings in Hungary. One of her students, played by director Gallai, tags along. They trade the camera back and forth, though there’s a lot of them talking in two shots in the car. The car has a mounted camera, which eventually helps break the gimmick.

Though, the gimmick is never as impressive as how Elekes and Gallai exploit it and how Elekes edits it (along with Sándor Gál). Gallai’s screenplay is well-plotted. Moth has some rather nicely done sequences–both “first person” camcorder footage and third person dramatic–but between them, only Gallai’s pace and then the editing make the film move well enough. Eventually, the screenplay falls apart and Gallai just becomes a jerk. He and Szabó don’t have any chemistry. The film’s in English, though the stars are Hungarian–and there are way too many American pop culture references to give it a broader appeal. Is it a good commercial decision? I don’t know. I’m not exactly the target audience for found footage horror movies, but the movie certainly would’ve been better if Gallai and Szabó didn’t worry so much about being as Western-friendly as possible.

I mean, that concept–two people from different countries only able to communicate in non-native English while hunting a mothman creature in Hungary–it’s a better story. Because Gallai struggles to give his characters back story, he struggles to give them content. And then he can’t even muster enthusiasm when he’s trying to get through the expository dialogue. It kills run time between thrills, yes, but it doesn’t build anything.

Moth’s real independent and Gallai and Elekes show a lot of creativity with their limitations. The found footage approach does help them get away with some things, but not enough. It’s not the defining thing about Moth, even though it’s technically well-executed.

With better performances, same exact story, same exact filmmaking, Moth would be a lot better. The acting is just too lean, too perfunctory. Both Gallai and Szabó (who has the ludicrous subplot of wanting to be an actress instead of a university lecturer) just seem like they want to get through their lines so they can be off screen again.

Nice photography from Elekes, though not as impressive as he and Gál’s editing.

1/4

CREDITS

Produced and directed by Gergö Elekes and József Gallai; written by Gallai; photography and music by Elekes; edited by Elekes and Sándor Gal; production designer, Zoltán Jakab.

Starring Lídia Szabó (Thora) and József Gallai (Adam).


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Perihelion (2015, József Gallai)

Perihelion is a gorgeous film. Director Gallai composes the widescreen masterfully; he’s shooting digital, but uses Panavision aspect ratio to great success. The only times there’s any problem with the short’s visuals are when he and photographer (and editor and composer) Gergö Elekes hurry a shot.

The film’s a rumination on sadness and loss, with protagonist Bálint Egri leading a solitary existence. Gallai and Elekes do these fantastic transitions into flashback, bringing a desolate shot to life (Perihelion really shows off what one can do with digital on a restricted budget).

Unfortunately, there’s also almost omnipresent narration. Gallai adapted Perihelion from Beke Tamás Tarsoly’s poems and Gábor Varga narrates with them. Even though Egri never speaks, it’s obvious he doesn’t sound like Varga. There’s a disconnect. Varga’s rough voice against the beautiful film and Egri’s gentle performance.

Perihelion is still successful–Gallai’s a fantastic filmmaker–but it could’ve been sublime

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by József Gallai; screenplay by Gallai, based on poems by Beke Tamás Tarsoly; director of photography, Gergö Elekes; edited by Elekes; music by Elekes; production designer, Elekes; produced by Gallai and Elekes.

Starring Bálint Egri (Poet), Petra Zsófia Rékai (Wife) and Kata Tábori (Girl); narrated by Gábor Varga.

Blue Dream (2014, Gergö Elekes)

Blue Dream runs just under five minutes. Until the end, I didn’t realize the protagonist isn’t a protagonist in a fictional story; rather Blue Dream is a very stylish documentary short.

Elekes’s direction is fantastic; great Panavision-aspect composition. Great photography, great editing. And music. Elekes does almost all of it and the stuff he doesn’t do on his own, József Gallai helps with.

The short follows swimmer Kinga Galambos, who’s actually a real person. It makes a difference. It changes how Blue Dream plays; it goes from a short where the narration is way, way, way too much to a short where the narration is a little off, but can’t hurt the whole product.

It’s really impressive filmmaking from Elekes. It’s a little inaccessible if you’re not from Hungary, since familiarity with Galambos would help a lot. Or maybe you just have to watch it twice, which isn’t bad.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Photographed and directed by Gergö Elekes; screenplay by József Gallai, based on a story by Elekes, Kinga Galambos and Kitti Galambos; edited by Elekes and Gallai; music by Elekes; produced by Elekes and Kinga Galambos.