12:08 East of Bucharest

In 1989, the totalitarian regime of Romanian dictator Nicolas Ceausescu fell (at 12:08 PM). Sixteen years later, a local Bucharest television talk- show host, desperate for a topic for his daily feature, decides to com- memorate the event by interviewing a couple of the citizens who were there...maybe... History has a strange way of modifying itself to suit the current needs of the participants, and one of these fellows in particular, a hard-drinking, debt-ridden school teacher, seems to remember that he and his friends led the way. The talk-show host is trying to ascertain whether or not there was a local "revolution" or simply a demonstration of citizens in the town square AFTER the fact. A couple of the call-in guests challenge the school teacher's version.

This is a deadpan, hilarious character study of the three main characters, their personalities, their families, their weaknesses and, of course, their awkward appearance on the show. I loved the amateurish camera work, the attempts on the part of the would-be investigative reporter to "get at the truth," the call-in guests, and watching the older fellow, an impish retired widower who plays Santa for the local children, idly folding sheets of paper into hats, boats, or whatever, as he deals with the boredom of sitting there listening to the other two yammer on and on.

You won't recognize any of the faces, which makes it seem more like a documentary than a scripted movie. Everything about this situation seems authentic: the people, the settings, and most of all, the character flaws. I laughed out loud.

This DVD is available in some libraries and in catalogs; I'm not sure about Netflix or Blockbuster.