Why Some Movies Are Good

In almost all professional meetings, whether they are held at the Filmmakers' Association or right nearby at Vineyard tavern, the film director Tufiş (in the credits of a labor safety documentary submitted to the greatest specific film festival he had required that his name be spelt Toofish, so as to facilitate the penetration of our movies into the global market) is displaying a much needed polemical tone."Why-" he cries out, his spirit burning with patriotic élan, "-do Americans make better movies?!"As no American is around, nobody offers him a reasonable explanation. On other occasions, he finds a bone to pick, in the same passionate tone, with the Poles, the Italians, the Japanese, the Swedes, the Britons… Yet his questions are strictly rhetorical, as he knows perfectly well why some nations or other make better movies. Every time he sees an American movie, Tufiş lets slip through his teeth:"I'll grant you that, what with all the money they pour into the business!"In contrast, when watching a Japanese movie, he whoops like a samurai:"They've got the technology, sir! Anything can be done with technology!"Nor do English movies find him unprepared:"Sure, with such actors! Just let me get hold of Laurence Olivier and I'll show you!"When he watches an Italian movie, he bursts out nervously:"Of course, with their neo-realist tradition it couldn't have come out bad!"The Swedes?"The Swedes have got no problem. They've got Bergman, that's the trick. Big deal, to have Bergman and make good movies!"The Poles have got Wajda, the Germans have got hard cash, the Russians used to have Eisenstein, the Bulgarians have got screenplays, the Spaniards have got Bunuel… What about the French?"With their film critics, how could they make bad movies? I wish we had such critics!"Everyone has got something, except him, that is Romanian cinematography, which has nothing, that's why.One Monday evening, after the premiere of the Romanian movie directed by his colleague A, I meet Tufiş on the street; he looks quite bad-tempered and is heading for Vineyard. I approach him shyly:"You didn't like this one either, did you?"He gives me a somber glance:"As a matter of fact I did.""Then why are you so glum?""Well I bet the guy's satisfied now," he barks, "-with his talent, it was no big deal!"

by Dumitru Solomon (1932-2003)