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November 11, 2021

Denver Film Festival - Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn


Babardeala cu bucluc sau porno balamuc
Radu Jude - 2021
Magnolia Films

An earlier film by Radu Jude is titled I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians. Jude grew up during the last decade of communist rule in Romania, but his films are about a country that essentially has not changed regardless of the government. Most consistently, as restated in this film is that if you scratch a Romanian, even if you do not find a Nazi, you will likely find an unapologetic anti-Semite.

The title refers to the home video a teacher, Emilia, has made with her husband who is recording their activity. Nothing artful or discrete or simulated for that matter. While there is no direct role playing, the music, presented as diegetic, is an instrumental version of "Lili Marlene", the World War II German song of a a mythical fallen woman. The video, intended only for a private adult site finds its way to a much broader audience including PornHub. Emilia's job is on the line, especially as some of her junior high students have managed to see the incriminating video.

Emilia is followed walking around Bucharest. The film is also a loose document of Romania during the pandemic with most citizens in face masks, following distancing protocols. Not to the degree that it has dominated news in the U.S., but there are those who equate mask wearing with infringement of rights, the doubts about vaccines, and harebrained medical cures. There is unprovoked belligerence on the street, with sense of self-worth based on conspicuous consumption. As much as people rely on having the current smart phone apps, there is also deep nostalgia and romanticism about Romania of the past, even those aspects that are questionable.

Jude breaks from the narrative to explore aspects of Romanian history as well as a look at the the blunt words used to describe sexual organs. Thinking about the film, it struck me that the filmmaker Radu Jude most resembles would be the Yugoslavian (later Serbian) Dusan Makavejev and two of his films from the early 1970s. WR -The Mysteries of the Organism (1971) and Sweet Movie both connected sexual expression with politics. Sweet Movie was the more graphic in depicting sex and looking back at Soviet history with the Katyn Forest Massacre of 1943. Jude is more confrontational than Makaveyev in his view of Romania. For American viewers, while some of the issues are not exactly the same, a scene with school officials and parents deciding Emilia's professional fate should strike a chord of familiarity with the ensuing hysteria.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 11, 2021 07:20 AM