Super 8 Stories By Emir Kusturica

on February 11, 2001 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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   In addition to his duties as a director, Emir Kusturica ("Underground," "Black Cat, White Cat") also plays bass guitar for the No Smoking Orchestra, a raucous band formed in the former Yugoslavia and specializing in what could be called gypsy rock. Deciding to mesh his two great loves, music and cinema, Kusturica filmed the group on a recent European tour, interviewing them on their backgrounds and showcasing their creation of "A Hard Day's Night"-type video. "Super 8 Stories by Emir Kusturica" is that unlikely document of an equally unlikely rock band. Shot in black-and-white and color (for the concert sequences and the band's behind-the-scenes horsing around), "Super 8 Stories" is as uneven as Kusturica's films. But at its (infrequent) best, it's a reflection of Kusturica's raw, undisciplined and powerful abilities. "Super 8 Stories" is particularly effective at conveying the excitement and joy of the No Smoking Orchestra's stage shows, which just skirt being a novelty act but are great at raising the stadium roof. The members of the band are great personalities, too, fighting with each other at the drop of a hat, and provoking each other while Kusturica interviews them. The video that's being shot by the band is also a lot of fun. But "Super 8 Stories" is strangely devoid of politics. That may be the band's intent, but any movie about the fractured Balkans can't help but ask political questions. We learn that some of the band members did satirical theatre in the past but nothing of what they think of the current political situation. And the use of the Super 8 home movies of the group members' childhoods is the film's weakest point; their insertion into the story is often clumsy and jarring. Entertaining as "Super 8 Stories" often is, it's unsatisfying as a probing portrait of musical talent.    Directed by Emir Kusturica. Produced by Karl Baumgartner, Christoph Friedel, Andrea Gambetta, Emir Kusturica and Domencico Procacci. No distributor set. Documentary. Serbian-language, subtitled. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min.
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