Police, Adjective

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Some advice to viewers of the sophomore feature from Corneliu Porumboiu (12:08 East of Bucharest): Be patient. You may not think static scenes of a cop (Dragos Bucur) casing a teenage hashish dealer’s routines are leading anywhere; that these acts of surveillance almost feel as if they’re happening in real time doesn’t help. Compared with the brilliant, bone-dry humor of his previous film, the structuralist musings of Police, Adjective’s first half will start to test your tolerance. But the Romanian New Waver is calmly, methodically laying the foundation for an argument about how language and morality play into authority—or more specifically, its abuses. Then comes the movie’s Rohmeresque showstopper: a 20-minute sequence in which the cop and his stoic superior (Vlad Ivanov) debate the definition of the word conscience. It’s just two men, a rundown office and a dictionary, but the sequence revises everything that’s happened before it—and justifies the wait a hundredfold. Genius. Monday, Sept 28 at 9:15pm—David Fear

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New York Film Festival 2009

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