Like many other filmmakers, future Palme d’Or winner Cristian Mungiu began his career making shorts before taking on feature-length productions. This humorous work from 2000 is concerned with that most aimless of leisurely activities: channel surfing, or “zapping” as it’s called here. A man sits in his dingy apartment compulsively flipping through TV stations, unaware of the disconcerting consequences and revelations that he is inviting by being so lazy and consumed by media stimulation.
Cristian Mungiu won over Cannes audiences with his 2007 film 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, an oppressively bleak look back at Communist Romania that follows a young woman’s attempts to secure an illegal abortion for her pregnant friend. Zapping is considerably more “fun,” but Mungiu clearly has always had a thing for substandard urban living conditions. Even when he’s incorporating ludicrous fantasy elements, the filmmaker does so to communicate a dreary vision of society. And if the dystopian atmosphere is too much of a bummer, skip right to 3:47 where the protagonist flips the channel to an interview with John Travolta, giving Zapping the honor of being the third best Travolta film from a particularly strong year for the actor (which will continue to be celebrated during the coming weeks on Facets Film Portal, as we direct you to streams of Battlefield Earth and Lucky Numbers.)