Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions in this astonishing 1965 debut from Marco Bellocchio. Charged by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity, and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket (I pugni in tasca) was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema. Continue reading
When her husband returns from his work abroad with a guest, a young girl, his wife suspects a liaison. She leaves her home. Her boss takes her to the Côte d’Azur. They get closer during the long voyage and the man invites her to his marital home. Continue reading
Rogosin took the fight for equality to his homeland with his astonishing and powerful fourth feature Black Roots. The film, which is ripe for rediscovery, featured an extraordinary cast, including Reverend Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick; attorney and feminist activist Florynce “”Flo”” Kennedy; and musicians Jim Collier, Wende Smith, Larry Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis. All tell stories of heartbreak and despair while their songs blow the roof off the rafters. In an extension of the famed shebeen scenes in Come Back, Africa, the participants in Black Roots spoke openly about politics and race in a way that is still rarely seen on screen. In 1970, it was a radical and daring move by a great director. A deeply humanist film, Black Roots combines tales of oppression with hauntingly beautiful images of the faces of black men, women and children. Continue reading
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