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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Z (1969)

After giving a speech advocating nuclear disarmament, a political activist (Yves Montand) is struck by a car leaving the lecture hall. But what is constructed to look like an accident is revealed to be a deliberate attack that involves the complicity and corruption of an entire Fascistic government. This stunning political thriller, directed by Costa-Gavras, is based on the Vasilis Vasilikos novel which is a thinly veiled account of the killing of Grigoris Lambrakis and the cover up by the Greek government. It's as intense a thriller as any mainstream Hollywood product as its best, but Costa-Gavras ups the ante by rapidly putting the audience in a vise and never letting go until we're near giddy from the intensity with only the film's downbeat coda to bring us back to earth. The remarkable editing is by Francoise Bonnot who justifiably won an Oscar and the excellent score is by Mikis Theodorakis. While there are no leading roles, the film is very much an ensemble piece, the sterling cast includes superb work by Irene Papas, Jean Louis Trintignant, Charles Denner, Renato Salvatori, Marcel Bozzuffi, Jacques Perrin, Georges Geret and Magali Noel.

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