DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

 
CROSSROADS CAFE (ROZDROZE CAFE) (director/writer: Leszek Wosiewicz;  cinematographer: Andrzej Ramlau; editor: Leszek Wosiewicz/Krzysztof Raczynski; music: Kazik Staszewski; cast: Robert Olech (Grzegorz), Piotr Glowacki (Michal), Cezary Lukaszewicz (Irek), Martyna Peszko (Mariola), Dominika Markuszewska (Dusia), Krzysztof Kolberger (Senator Lucki), Jacek Rozenek (Matys), Sara Zaganczyk (Lusia), Agnieszka Krukówna (Katarzyna Marcuch), Marcin Bosak (Father Andrzej), Mariusz Frackiewicz (Bronek), Maria Pakulnis (Grzegorz's Mother), Miroslaw Zbrojewicz (Gerard), Damian Suchodolski (Mak), Adam Kamien (Arek Marcuch), Maria Niklinska (Julka), Michal Piela (Maly); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Maciej Karpinski/Pawel Mossakowski/Malgorzata Retej/Andrzej Serdiukow/Ryszard Sibilski/Marek Trojak; MGE; 2005-Poland-in Polish with English subtitles)

"Unpleasant action-packed crime drama set to a Polish rap song."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Unpleasant action-packed crime drama set to a Polish rap song and follows a hip-hop beat throughout. It's about a dysfunctional family looking for ways to get rich without earning it honestly. Polish filmmaker Leszek Wosiewicz ("Because of Love"/"House Chronicles") competently directs and writes this jaundiced look at Polish youth in the post-Communist days of its new capitalist society. For American film-goers it's the old story of the envious downtrodden youth caught in a web of corruption while trying to get rich quickly, who are doomed from the start because of worshiping false ideals. The cliché-ridden melodrama presents nothing new about life in the mean streets not already done in Hollywood, but for those interested in checking-out what's going down in contemporary Poland this fictionalized true story has a rawness that might intrigue those Americans in search of something foreign. It didn't hit the spot for me because I felt no sympathy for these lost souls, as their hard luck story couldn't dispel the notion that these were terrible people using the excuse for their wrong deeds on living in a  poor environment and on their lack of proper parental guidance.

Ne'er-do-well Grzes (Robert Olech) moves to Warsaw from his provincial hometown and freaks out that his fuck partner sister Dusia (Dominika Markuszewska) is marrying for money a sleazy elderly politician, Senator Lucki (Krzysztof Kolberger). When a banker/mobster Grzes knows from the Crossroads Cafe, Gerard (Miroslaw Zbrojewicz), recruits him for his insider's scheme to rob his bank without violence and to split about a million dollars, Grzes arms his unstable psychopathic homeboy gang member Michal (Piotr Glowacki) with a gun given him by Gerard and are joined by two other punky gang members. During the robbery Gerard wants to call it off but hot-headed Michal refuses to hear why and goes into a fit and starts killing customers and bank officials, botching the heist. Grzes is forced to turn himself in by corrupt Warsaw cop Matys (Jacek Rozenek), who earns a cut from the Crossroads Cafe's offensive operation of child porn and prostitution. At the trial only an unrealistic Grzes's mother (Maria Pakulnis) proclaims his innocence with conviction, as he's given a life sentence.

It begins and ends on a bleak note. At one point Grzes's retarded younger brother Bronek (Mariusz Frackiewicz) is declared by his protective older brother as the only sane soul in the world and he goes on to say if the world was made up of Broneks it would be a saner and more peaceful place. With all due respect to the film-maker, I think if he's trying to take a political shot at Poland for again adopting a debased foreign system and further corrupting Polish youth--this time with America's penchant for gangsters and violence, he could have done a better job and made more valid points than loading his arguments with all the ammo to fit his agenda.

REVIEWED ON 6/24/2012       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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