Another brilliant outing from Czech New Wave master Jan Nemec, director of Diamonds of the Night and The Party and the Guests.
Martyrs of Love is in 3 distinct sections, separated by title cards, connected thematically and formally rather than concretely. Music is probably the most important connection, as all three sections have prominent musical events. Continue reading
A year after Franz Kafka’s work had been translated from German into his native Czech, this experimental feature was full of Kafka’s tone and style. The story is about Harold, an isolated figure in an overwhelming world of totalitarian bureaucracy. Harold tries to find the elusive Joseph Kilian, an old acquaintance, in Prague. When Harold stumbles across a state-run cat-lending store, he impulsively rents a feline for the day. Later, he attempts to return the cat and finds that the store no longer exists. Now with a furry companion, Harold continues his search for Kilian. Written and directed by Pavel Juracek, this 40 minute film effectively aims its allegorical shots at personality cults and the absurdities of a totalitarian regime. × Continue reading
Blonde (wigged) and beautiful New York City model Sharon Kent (who was also a favorite of Barry Mahon) stars as Ann, a lovely secretary whose life is perfect. Her best friend Babs (middle-aged and buxom Jackie Richards) works with her in a friendly office and her boyfriend Bob recently proposed to her. Her world comes crashing down around her, however, when a creepy bespectacled geek (Wishman regular Michael Alaimo) begins stalking her. Through a supernatural mishap (which is never explained, but who cares?), the stalker finds a blonde doll and a tacky ring in the garbage can and suddenly, everything he does to the doll, Ann can feel being done to her! As the loser whips, feels up, undresses and puts a cigarette out on the doll, Ann feels every bit of it, and begins to believe her mind is unraveling. Babs is too busy whoring it up with a foreign sleazeball (Buck Starr, of TOO MUCH, TOO OFTEN) and Bob is away on business. Can she escape this hell? Continue reading
REVIEW by Susan Doll (from facets.org):
The Czech New Wave rode the tide of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia that lasted throughout the 1960s, which accounted for their ability to make highly personal films in individual styles. At the same time, this generation attracted international attention and acclaim. However, they were not the only directors to benefit from the freer political climate. Older directors from the postwar period, and even those of the prewar generation, made films they probably could not have made earlier in their careers.
Witches’ Hammer (Kladivo na Carodejnice), adapted from a novel by Vaclav Kaplicky, was historical drama roughly based on actual events, but Vavra became particularly fascinated with the subject matter while researching the film. Witches’ Hammer is a tale about the witch trials in Czechoslovakia in the 17th century, which unfolds from the perspective of an educated priest. The priest watches as his village’s most prosperous citizens are arrested by the Inquisitor, who impounds their property. The priest tries to stop the false accusations and fear-mongering, but he himself is unjustly accused. As he started the project, Vavra grew increasingly interested in the history behind the witch trials-why it happened in a country that did not practice witchcraft, how the victims were manipulated into confessing to actions they did not commit, and why they begged for swift punishment. Continue reading
Renowned gunman Richard Martin is traveling on a train, held up by Billy Kane, a former student of Martin’s. Kane spares Martin, but only after shooting his hands. Years later, Martin meets an escaped convict, wrongly convicted for the train robbery. Martin trains his new student and both men seek out Billy Kane. Continue reading
This Russian film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol’s story was for a long time the only horror film made in the Soviet Union. Khoma (Leonid Kuravlev), a young novice, travels across the countryside and stays for a night in a barn that belongs to an ugly old woman. When she attacks him at night and takes him for a broom ride, the scared novice fatally wounds her, and before she dies, she turns into a beautiful young noblewoman (Natalya Varley). The latter leaves a will, according to which Khoma should pray for her for three nights in the chapel until her body is buried. At night, the witch rises from the coffin and tries to catch Khoma. She flies around but she can’t reach him or see him because he stays inside the circle that he has drawn around himself. During the third and last night, the witch makes the last attempt to scare him out of the circle, and she calls all sorts of ugly creatures to help her… Gogol wrote several stories based on Ukrainian folklore, many of them dealing with the Devil and the supernatural. ~ Yuri German, All Movie Guide Continue reading
Along a rocky, barren coastline, Jesus begins teaching, primarily using parables. He attracts disciples; he’s stern, brusque, and demanding. He comes to bring a sword, not peace, he says. He’s in a hurry, moving from place to place near the Sea of Galilee, sometimes attracting a multitude, sometimes being driven away. His parables often take on the powers that be, so he and his teachings come to the attention of the Pharisees, the chief priests, and elders. They conspire to have him arrested, beaten, tried, and crucified, just as he prophesied to his followers. After he dies, he appears to his disciples and gives them final instructions. Continue reading