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Monday, October 20, 2008

DEKALOG : I-X (1989)

Krzystof Kieslowski gets the Gold, Silver & Bronze medals on this wonderfully involving series of ten short films loosely inspired by the ten commandments. (Half of the stories deal with coveting something or somebody.) It sounds like heavy lifting, but is anything but. In general, KK likes to set up the themes & moral dilemmas of his compact stories in broad strokes, and then confound our expectations with sly reversals of logic, fortune or character identification. Major themes such as illness, fidelity, love & death, are delineated in microcosm, but resonate beyond the confines of the modern Warsaw housing complex where these lives intersect. Careful attention reveals characters & bits of plot breaking in and out of episodes that don’t directly concern them. The least of the stories are no more than pleasant moral diversions with O’Henry-like twists at the end, but the best of the films go topsy-turvy halfway in and leave us panting from alternating sympathies. You’ll find your own hits & misses (a philately caper overdoses on whimsy), but you may wish to skip Episode 6 which Kieslowski expanded slightly into A SHORT FILM ABOUT LOVE. It’s available separately and is worth every extra minute.

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