Két Félidő A Pokolban AKA Two Half Times In Hell
Hungarian film from the sixties, set in a Horthy-era punishment labour camp in the Ukraine, where to celebrate Hitler’s birthday inmates must field a football team against eleven of the Wehrmacht’s finest.
Made just six years after the crushing of the Budapest Uprising, it is a thoughtful piece in which the tension between keeping your head down and playing it safe versus making a stand and taking action is constantly revisited. Whilst it clearly inspired shorelines such as Escape To Victory and The Longest Yard, and whilst there are wonderful comic moments, it’s a serious film that ends not on a happy or even hopeful note.
Zoltán Fábri directs with real power, and it often feels less a European picture and more a mid-century Japanese film, thanks to its orderly, well-composed frames, colourful use of monochrome, and themes of duty.
Woody Harrelson as Dave Brown, a bent Los Angeles cop caught up downwind of the Rampart scandal thanks to an energetic episode of behaviour modification caught on camera.
Lawyer: “Why is staying a cop the most important thing?” Dave: “Because I’m a hard-charging, dutiful motherfucker, and I want to explicate the LAPD’s somewhat hyperbolised misdeeds with true panache regardless of my alleged transgressions. Capiche?”
Oren Moverman directs efficiently, all dark bar room shadows contrasting with blindingly bright Californian skies, and the cast (including small but significant little bits from Robert Wisdom, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi and Ned Beatty) works well together, none of that showboating nonsense. Co-scripted with James Ellroy, does feel like it runs out of steam towards the end, though.