Thursday, 11 June 2015

LIZA THE FOX-FAIRY (Liza a Rókatündér) - Review By Greg Klymkiw - NIFF 2015 MUST-SEE Wacko Winner from Hungary gets Canadian Premiere during the legendary Bill Marshall's 2nd Annual Niagara Integrated Film Festival in Southern Ontario Wine Country

Liza The Fox-Fairy aka Liza a Rókatündér (2015)
Dir. Károly Ujj Mészáros
Starring: Mónika Balsai, Szabolcs Fazekas, David Sakurai

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Watching Liza The Fox-Fairy, I felt like I had died and sailed up to Heaven. It's also proof-positive how great publicists genuinely understand the writers they work with. I didn't even bother including this title on my list of films I'd requested to screen in advance of the 2015 Niagara Integrated Film Festival and the gentle words of the veteran flack handling NIFF's press relations, "I think you might want to see this one, too," led me to this terrific motion picture (at first, wearily, in spite of not ever really being led astray by said flack's almost placid urging), which not only appealed to my taste, but did so with the kind of artistry and imagination I continually long for in the movies.

This magnificently mordant fantasy is also a deeply black comedy, an utterly insane musical and perhaps one of the most unexpectedly sweet and melancholy love stories I've seen in quite some time. That it also blends an old-style Eastern European sense of realism, an occasional use of a fluorescent-dappled post-modernist visual palette and that this Budapest-back-dropped ode to ghostly apparitions, murder and Japanese culture oddly joins a splendid cinematic coterie that includes Canada's brilliant Winnipeg-infused, Hungarian-heritaged John (Crime Wave) Paizs and the Colorado=spawned Zellner (Kumiko The Treasure Hunter) Brothers (with dashes of Otto Preminger's Laura), all yielding globs of rich icing on this delicious cake of celluloid dreaming.

Liza (Mónika Balsai) has toiled for twelve long years as a personal slave/caretaker to a morbidly obese old lady in Hungary who once lived with her deceased husband, a consular official, in Japan. She not only teaches Liza Japanese in their endless days, weeks, months and aeons together, but insists her jane-of-all-trades endlessly spin tunes by the old gal's favourite Nippon pop star Tomy Tani (David Sakurai). Frumpy Liza, having never known true love, magically becomes the recipient of numerous visitations by the ghost of Tomy who croons and converses endlessly with her. Some might call him an imaginary friend, but he is, ultimately, an all-too-real a presence in Liza's life.

On Liza's 30th birthday, everything changes. Whilst enjoying a celebratory greasy burger and fries at the grim Hungarian fast food eatery, MEKK BURGER, the old lady dies and in her will, leaves the loyal, dowdy au pair her apartment and a small amount of money. Liza immediately becomes a beacon for male suitors. Alas, one-by-one, the men begin to die "accidentally" in Liza's presence. Though each death is clearly accidental, the Budapest Homicide Department smells something fishy and assigns Detective Zoltán Zászlós (Szabolcs Fazekas) to stakeout her comings and goings.

Zoltán slowly falls for Liza in a big way, even though men are dropping like flies around her. Melancholy Liza, who transforms herself into a Cosmopolitan Magazine babe, feels like she's become the reincarnated Japanese "Fox-Lady" whom, a legend has it, could never know true love as all men who courted her died horrible deaths. As Liza's apartment becomes insanely plastered with crime scene tape body outlines, the jealous ghost of Tomy appears to be the real culprit.

He loves Liza and wants her all to himself.

For eternity.

What's a girl to do?

To find out, head down to St. Catharines and surrounding environs to see Liza The Fox-Fairy at the Niagara Integrated Film Festival. Who knows when you'll have a chance to see this thoroughly delightful picture on a big screen with an audience.


Liza The Fox-Fairy enjoys its Canadian Premiere at NIFF 2015. For info, dates and tickets, visit the festival's website by clicking HERE.