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Sundance: Movie love and magic in "Chuck Norris Vs. Communism"
by JENNIFFER WARDELL
Jan 27, 2015 | 9852 views | 0 0 comments | 637 637 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy of Vernon Films LTD.
Courtesy of Vernon Films LTD.
slideshow

Directed by Ilinca Calugareanu

Romanian with English subtitles

Grade: 

No matter how much you love '80s movies, you'll never love them as much as Romanians do.

That's part of the magic of "Chuck Norris Vs. Communism," an intimate, heartfelt look at the power illegal '80s movies and one particularly prolific translator had on an entire generation of Romanians trapped under the regime of a Communist dictator. Once you watch it, you'll never look at even the stupidest-seeming Chuck Norris movie the same way again.

The documentary is structured around a series of interviews of Romanians and their memories of illegal viewing parties of smuggled Western videos. The best were from average people, a charming similarity to their stories that suggests that these movies are collective memories for these people. There are some real laughs for movie buffs – one poor woman's first movie was "Last Tango in Paris" – but the sheer awe on their faces when they relate some cherished memory may make those same movie buffs surprisingly emotional.

Another thing over which they get surprisingly emotional is Irina Nistor, the translator who did the Romanian dubbing for the majority of these illicit movies. She was their crush, their friend, their tour guide to the magical worlds found in the movies, and that heroic figure makes a fascinating contrast to the real Irina, the eminently practical movie buff who serves as a narrator for a large portion of the documentary.

Through their memories, even the worst '80s trash is refined and transformed into something precious. It's a gift to everyone who's ever relied on movies to take them to an entirely different world.  

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