"Get on your knees, sinner! Repent for not having watched The Death of Mr. Lazerescu, one of the best-reviewed movies of 2005!" Just so you feel better, I'm not talking to you, faithful reader, I'm chastising myself for missing out -- so far -- on viewing the highly-praised Romanian drama. Here's my confession: ignoring all the critical hosannas, I allowed myself to be influenced by an anonymous film festival attendee who told her friend: "Isn't that the one where they drive around in an ambulance for three hours? Booo-ring!" Determined to atone for my sins, I'm putting Mr. Lazerescu near the top of my "to watch" pile, keeping an eye out for another Romanian film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days (the Cannes prizewinner that James recommended so highly), which will probably be out this fall, and looking forward to the just-announced release of still another highly-praised Romanian film, The Way I Spent the End of the World. Is there something in the Black Sea that's helping these filmmakers produce such great cinema?

When it played at Toronto last year, Martha Fischer wrote: "On rare occasions ... you see a film so confident and effective that it's almost frightening to consider what the director will produce once he or she gets some experience; The Way I Spent the End of the World from first-time writer-director Catalin Mitulescu is one of those revelations." The Hollywood Reporter summarizes the plot: "Petre plays Eva, a teenager who accidentally breaks a statue of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu with her 7-year-old brother during the last year of the leader's rule. After being prosecuted for the incident, she escapes the country, and her brother hatches a plan to assassinate the leader with his school friends." Film Movement will distribute the film to their club members in July, followed by a limited theatrical release in the early part of 2008 before its eventual appearance on DVD.