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Ian Fiscuteanu brings to life the slow death of a unique character in Cristi Puiu’s very dark comedy

THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU (Cristi Puiu, 2005)
IFC Center
323 Sixth Ave. at West Third St.
Wednesday, July 9, 8:45
Series runs July 4-10

Poor Mr. Lazarescu. He lives in a shoddy hovel of an apartment in Bucharest, where he drinks too much and gets out too little. He moves around very slowly and has trouble saying what’s on his mind, even to his three cats. His family is sick and tired of telling him to lay off the booze, so they ignore his complaints. Suffering from headaches and stomach pain, he phones for an ambulance several times, but it arrives only after a neighbor calls as well. Mr. Lazarescu then spends the rest of this very long night fading away as he is taken to hospital after hospital by the ambulance nurse, who gets involved in a seemingly endless battle with doctors to try to save him. Ian Fiscuteanu is sensationally realistic as Mr. Lazarescu; you’ll quickly forget that he’s not really a drunk, disgusting, dying old man. Luminita Gheorghiu is excellent as Mioara, the nurse who gets caught up in Mr. Lazarescu’s case. Winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard Award, cowriter-director Cristi Puiu’s very dark comedy is simply captivating; despite a slow start, it’ll pull you in with its well-choreographed scenes, documentary style, and careful camera movement. (Also look for the subtle and very specific naming of characters.) Using Éric Rohmer’s “Six Moral Tales” as inspiration, Puiu has said that The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is the first of his own “Six Stories from the Bucharest Suburbs,” this one dealing with “the love of humanity,” followed by 2010’s Aurora.

Judy Garland and Robert Walker are running out of time in Vincente Minnellis THE CLOCK

Judy Garland and Robert Walker star as lovers running out of time in Vincente Minnelli’s THE CLOCK

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu is screening July 9 at 8:45 as part of the IFC Center series “Time Regained: Cinema’s Present Perfect,” consisting of more than two dozen films that deal with time, being held in conjunction with the upcoming release of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. The festival runs through July 10 and also includes all of François Truffaut’s Antoine Doinel films, Linklater’s Before trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, Agnès Varda’s real-time Cleo from 5 to 7, Harold Ramis’s Groundhog Day, Gaspar Noé’s controversial, backward-told Irréversible, Robert Wise’s boxing drama The Set-Up, Vincente Minnelli’s romance The Clock, Akira Kurosawa’s multiple-view Rashomon, and Alfred Hitchcock’s seemingly unedited Rope. Interestingly, IFC is not showing Raoul Ruiz’s Time Regained, based on Marcel Proust’s final volume of In Search of Lost Time and the namesake of the series.

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