Showing posts with label czech republic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label czech republic. Show all posts

14 April 2018

23 March 2015

DVD Review - Traps (1998)

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Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Distributor:
Second Run
Release Date:
23rd March 2015
Rating: 18
Director:
Věra Chytilová
Cast:
Lenka Vychodilová, Lucie Vackárová, Tomás Hanák
Buy: Traps - [DVD]

Věra Chytilová is often considered a feminist filmmaker even though she would always reject being labelled and called herself an “individualist”. Given the fact the Czechoslovakian communist government oppressed her for years, it’s understandable to see her desire to reject Western labels. Chytilová is best known to Western audiences for her psychedelic masterpiece Daisies, which annoyed the powers so much she could only made one film, Fruits of Paradise, in the next 9 years. In the late ‘70s her blacklisting was lifted and she resumed making films.

Second Run, after releasing Daisies (which I assumed is one of their best selling titles), have made it their goal to release more films from Věra Chytilová. The first one to come out is Traps, which is one of her later films, it came out in 1998. It has a decidedly mixed response on release and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a pitch black comedy about a young vet who is picked up by two men and raped, she later gets her revenge on them by cutting off their testicles.

It’s certainly not a subtle statement on the abuse of power; one of the men is a politician for example and the film starts with some pigs getting their balls cut off. It’s also a brilliant statement on male chauvinism banter; before they pick the woman up they talk about how easy it is to just pick a woman etc. The film pulls a near impossible balancing act when it comes to the depiction of the rapists, obviously you don’t, nor should you, feel sympathy for them, but you can feel their pain of losing their manhood. The two men are portrayed as bourgeois fools, which shows the influence of Luis Buñuel who was a massive influence on almost all Czech New Wave filmmakers.

It’s an angry rallying call to sterilize the ruling class of Czechoslovakia; the government may have changed from communist to capitalist, but their intent hasn’t. Traps also plays like an absurdist comedy, with even elements of populist slapstick comedy which may have troubled some viewers at the time. It completely subverts the genres it’s playing with, like the revenge genre and populist comedy, and remains such a startling film.

★★★★
Ian Schultz

25 October 2013

The White Dove (1960), Josef Kilián (1963) DVD Reviews

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The White Dove (1960)
Rating:
PG
Director:
Frantisek Vlácil
Cast:
Katerina Irmanovová, Anna Pitasová, Karel Smyczek
Josef Kilián (1963)
Rating:
n/a
Director:
Pavel Jurácek, Jan Schmidt
Cast:
Pavel Bartl, Pavel Silhánek, Stanislav Michler
Buy The White Dove & Josef Kilián: DVD

Second Run has continued it’s love of 60s Czechoslovakian New Wave cinema with films by two of it’s key players. The people in question are František Vláčil and Pavel Jurácek. Vláčil would later direct what is often considered the greatest Czech film ever made Marketa Lazarová and Jurácek is more well known as a writer for his screenplays for Ikarie XB-1 and Daisies. All of these films are available from Second Run and all are highly recommended.

The first film is The White Dove. It’s a very simple story it’s about a boy who nurses a dove after he injures it so it can return back home. It contrasts his story and the girl Susanne waiting for it’s return to his home in the Baltics. There really is much more to that story than that, it’s only slightly over an hour. It exceeds its simplistic story which wonderful cinematic touches throughout. It’s compared to Kes in the press notes but it’s a very strange comparison cause it has tons of surrealistic touches, which is the complete opposite of Ken Loach’s great film. It’s photography is truly stunning and leaves indelible marks on the viewer’s memory, it won award for it’s cinematographer Jan Curík who would later shoot Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and The Joke.

Jan Curík also shot the other film on the disc Josef Kilián. It’s directed by Pavel Jurácek and Jan Schmidt and is only slightly over half an hour. It’s obviously inspired by Kafka and it’s no coincidence that the year the film came out 1963 was the same year that there was a large conference which including a cultural reappraisal of Kafka’s work. It was later “banned forever” after the 1968 Soviet invasion.

It’s a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy. A young man goes to a cat rental place to rent a cat for a day (best idea ever for non cat owners) but when he comes back to return the cat. He then enters into a world of bureaucracy to try to solve his issue. There is a truly stunning shot of him against a wall of filing cabinets, which is reminiscent of the famous un-filmed deleted scene of Brazil, which was used for the criterion cover. It has cats and has a labyrinth of surreal bureaucracy so ticks 2 important cinematic boxes for me.

So overall another great release from Second Run and hopefully more hidden Czech gems will come in the near future. According to the booklet Karel Zeman’s A Jester’s Tale will be come out soon which Pavel Jurácek also wrote and hopefully The Joke comes out so I can see it.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


11 September 2013

Ikarie XB-1 DVD Review

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Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Rating:
15
Distributor:
Second Run
Director:
Jindrich Polák
Cast:
Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Dana Medrická
Buy:
Ikarie XB-1 [DVD]

Ikarie XB-1 is a fascinating piece of pre-2001: a Space Odyssey science fiction filmmaking. It was made 5 years before in 1963 and it’s from Czechoslovakia, which is not known for it’s science fiction with the possible exception of the writer Karel Ćapek. Ikarie XB-1 has never been released on these shores until now with Second Run’s (a label who specialises in Czech cinema) release. The film however has it admirers including esteemed directors like Joe Dante and Alex Cox. It has also been suggested its one of many space films Stanley Kubrick watched before he embarked on the task of making 2001.

The film’s source comes from one of the most world-renowned science fiction writers Stanislaw Lem, he also wrote the book Solaris is based on. Stanislaw like most great sci-fi writers dealt with philosophical themes and his work also at times were very satiric. He is also considered one of the most difficult writers to translate because of his elaborate word formulations. The book Ikarie XB-1 is based on The Mangellanic Cloud that has not yet been translated into English.

Ikarie XB-1 is not that dissimilarly to the better-known Solaris as both films are set almost entirety on a space ship. It is equally a journey though space to discover new worlds (in Ikarie XB-1 they are trying to find alien life on star near Alpha Centauri) and a mental one. Solaris is definitely a more artistically successful film but that’s part of the mastery of its director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Ikarie XB-1 has fantastic production design that at times is almost hallucinatory with its shapes and patterns of the interior of the ship. The cinematography throughout is really stunning with lots of strange disorienting angles that get the viewer into the mind-set of the crew. The outer space sequences are surprisingly effect and don’t seem too cheesy.

It’s overall a really surprising piece of early intelligent science fiction in cinema (they’re was already lots in the fiction world) that will really surprise a lot of people. The film was cut down by the US distributor and retitled Voyage to the end of the universe. The twist ending was cut and was replaced with a much happier ending but of course Second Run has released the original cut. The DVD is under £10 and it’s certainly worth you investment.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

3 December 2012

"Is There Anyone There?" Yes Robin Kasparik's Short Seance

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Finally here at Cinehouse we're starting to post more great short films and we don't show many non English shorts but things are changing with this new film Seance. Hailing from Czech Republic, directed by Robin Kasparik Seance is award winning short horror about three people, who are trying to find the fortune of a deceased baroness through a spiritualistic seance. But things will go a bit differently than they planned.

Seance has a veil of macabre very traditional supernatural horror but with a big Gothic feel too, this is how old fashioned ghost stories would have been like. Maybe not Edgar Allan Poe but I'm sure Poe would have smiled after watching this.


Seance from Robin Kasparik on Vimeo.

sourceVimeo