My Czech Film Festival

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Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby arsaib4 » Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:21 am

I'm quite intrigued by Wonderful Years That Sucked (who wouldn't be by the title alone). Are you familiar with the director or any of the cast members?
arsaib4
 


Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby wpqx » Wed Jun 20, 2007 2:31 pm

Not at all. Some faces looked familiar but more like they looked like other actors. I wasn't able to find any existing DVD or VHS of the film, so unless this Velvet Revolution Czech retro comes your way, you might not be able to see it.
wpqx
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Jul 16, 2007 5:25 am

WRONG SIDE UP (Czech Republic-Ger-Svk / 2005)

The protagonist of Petr Zelenkas droll comedy of manners Wrong Side Up (Prbehy obycejnho slenstv) wouldnt look out of place in a Kaurismki film. Beautifully played by Ivan Trojan, Petr is a thirtysomething lovable, unambitious "loser" with a dead-end job at the Prague airport. Petrs ex-girlfriend (Zuzana Sulajov) who, despite his shortcomings, might still hold some feelings for him is about to marry someone with better prospects. His nagging pseudo-activist mother has driven his nearly catatonic father, a communist-era newsreel narrator, into the arms of a bohemian sculptor intrigued with his past. Petrs boss, who keeps a list of all the things his wife has thrown at him over the years, is falling in love with a wrongfully arrived mannequin. And if that wasnt enough, Petrs sexually adventurous neighbors would like to hire him to watch them in action. As strange and eccentric as these characters initially appear to be, Zelenka, who reportedly adapted the leisurely paced screenplay from his own successful 2001 theatrical play called Tales of Common Insanity (the Czech title of the film), delicately imbues them with pathos and a sense of longing for someone or something just out of their reach (there seems to an autobiographical edge to the proceedings). Humor doesnt always travel well, especially if cultural specificity is its forte: while Wrong Side Up contains moments and situations that may only find their mark with the local audiences, the composite effect of the absurdist, deadpan tone, which along with Kaurismki also reminds one of Iosseliani and, of course, Keaton (who gets prominently displayed on a wall), is bound to be universal and, ultimately, bittersweet. Regarded as one of the bright young lights of contemporary Czech cinema, Zelenka has said that he would like to be considered as a Czech Woody Allen. Looking at how the globetrotting American filmmaker has damaged his reputation in recent years, he might want to give that another thought.
arsaib4
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby wpqx » Fri Aug 10, 2007 7:51 pm

Little Otik (2000) - Jan Svankmajer

What a strange world we live in. Svankmajer is back and quite ambitious. His live action films have steadily been growing in their scope, and at least the running time of this picture seems to top them all. Like Alice and Faust this story originates from an age old tale, although in this case it is more indigenous to Czech folklore. The beginning of the film has a much stronger surreal edge to it as babies seem to appear everywhere. They are sold on the fish market wrapped in newspaper, they are hidden inside watermelons and every single woman appears to be pregnant. All but one person that is. Bozena (Veronkia Zilkova) cannot conceive and apparently her husband Karel (Jan Harti) isn't capable as well. Karel decides to fashion a tree stump that resembles a baby into something of a wooden doll for his wife. She loves the stump so much that it eventually becomes living. The story can't end there, but unlike Pinocchio this child doesn't turn into flesh it is a flailing tree with infant tendencies (an ironic turn to a weeping willow). The poor beast also happens to have an appetite that can't possibly end.

Any simple fable has a moral and well this one isn't much different. Of course these would be parents are receiving the same punishment as Dr. Frankenstein for his usurping of God's role. "Little" Otik however carries a great deal of compassion whereas Frankenstein's monster was sympathetic to the viewers rather than his creator. The mother is fiercely protective and refuses to let any harm come of it, and even the once critical father can't go through with his plan to kill it and becomes yet another victim. Otik finds a friend in Frantisek (Pavel Novy) who is the only child not just of her parents but in their entire apartment building. She becomes an adoptive parent to Otik and is on a quest to keep feeding it, going so far as to draw matches for which member of the building to feed it, including her own mother and father. She is the only one who has read the fable and knows how it will end, but rather than recognizing the destruction and trying to prevent it, she tries to prevent Otik's eventual death and even feeds its hunger. Quite ludicrous and completely absurd as most Svankmajer films are it is still a joy to view his animation at work.
wpqx
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby trevor826 » Mon Aug 13, 2007 9:07 pm

My youngest son is totally freaked out by Little Otik, in fact all my family are freaked out by Svankmajer's films. I recently watched Alice and my wife thought she might enjoy it as well, by the time it came to the transition from human to animated doll, she'd lost it, just as well really, I don't know what she would have thought of the freaky skeletal creatures..

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby wpqx » Fri Aug 17, 2007 3:20 am

Faust (1994) - Jan Svankmajer

Imaginative as always, but this particular film seemed to be a little slow for Svankmajer. The legend is toyed with slightly, but the general premise remains the same. The highlight of the film is probably the summoning of Mephistopheles. The rest of the picture just feels not necessarily too long, just too slow mixed with not enough animation in my opinion. The scenes with clay, particularly the morphing face of Mephisto are all great. Sad to say, but probably the weakest Svankmajer film I've yet seen.
wpqx
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Sep 06, 2007 9:21 pm

ECSTASY (Czechoslovakia-Aut / 1933)

There have been a number of films throughout cinema history that have primarily etched their place in the hearts and minds of the moviegoing audience due to reasons other than artistic: Ecstasy (Ekstase) is one of them. Directed by Gustav Machat (1901-1963) -- one of the pioneers of Czechoslovak cinema who in his formative years served as an assistant under the likes of Griffith and von Stroheim -- the film is most "notorious" for the nudity and orgasmic exploits of its leading lady, the Austrian-born beauty Hedy Kiesler (1914-2000), who went on to achieve fame and fortune in Hollywood as Hedy Lamarr.

As thin as the variety of evening gowns she dons throughout the film, the storyline has young Eva (Kiesler) recently married to a stoic elderly capitalist (Zvonimir Rogoz) who either can't or won't cater to her physical and emotional needs. Eva eventually returns home to her fathers estate and gets the divorce proceedings underway. Ecstasy isnt a silent, but Machat essentially relates the events through his potpourri of cinematic techniques (Soviet avant-gardist, in particular) and Giuseppe Becce's expressive score. Both come into play during the two (in)famous, though relatively brief, sequences: one features a very naked Eva attempting to chase down her horse after skinny dipping, and while doing so coming upon a handsome and muscular foreman (Aribert Mog) toiling with his crew nearby; and in the other, the said young man becomes the catalyst for Evas orgasmic state (while tastefully shot, this scene is not nearly as sensual and erotic as the dream relay from LAtalante [1934]).

Besides overtly relying on his at once precious and heavy-handed sexually suggestive symbolism, Machat also bogs down the film with late melodramatics. Due to its content, it's not surprising that various edited versions of Ecstasy have played around the world since its release, including the U.S. Even the relatively new remastered edition is the German cut of the film, reportedly one of the three initially prepared (the ending in it especially seem compromised). By most accounts, the original print contains even more of "Eva," not to mention a horse-@#%$ session, and is devoid of the minor socially and politically correct inserts.

______________________

*Related: Machat's The Kreutzer Sonata (1926) by wpqx
arsaib4
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby wpqx » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:20 am

Marketa Lazarova (1967) - Frantisek Vlacil

It took awhile but I finally got to the film considered by some to be the best film to ever come from Czechoslovakia. I cannot find the list that apparently lists it at the top, but I think we're all familiar with its reputation. This is the third Vlacil film I've seen and certainly the one with the largest reputation. His narratives have frequently been a little disjointed and confusing, but here it takes on a grandeur that is baffling for the majority of time. It takes roughly 170 minutes of the film to figure out what the hell is going on. Tense is something that seems to be of no concern here. The film goes forward and backwards, jumps ship, switches perspective in a way that can rival the most complex novels. It is a picture that transcends plot points and is much more attuned to feeling and mood. Vlacil wanted his characters to live in this world and spent nearly two years with them living in the forest fighting for survival like animals. Part of it recalls Sembene's Ceddo as a film between religions. Christianity is evoked but few heed the pious, converting many of their pagan superstitions into new stories. It's hard to even begin to explain the film where everyone seems to be evil yet occasionally good to the point were it becomes nearly impossible to root for anyone. The picture is broken into two sections and subdivided repeatedly with expository titles, which do an awful lot to help the plot of the film. The authenticity is alarming and I think this is far greater to its objective than that year's War and Peace adaptation.
wpqx
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby arsaib4 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:31 am

Damn you, Yuku! One more review to edit. Anyway, does Facets have the DVD from Second Run?
arsaib4
 

Re: My Czech Film Festival

Postby wpqx » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:48 am

No I got it from a specialty store called OddObsession which has provided me with lots of impossible to find stuff in year's past but I haven't been there for a while. I'm just wondering where to go now in my Czech film watching, that was by far the most anticipated film of the bunch.
wpqx
 

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