Pereda’s films pass through a transitional period; Los mejores temas was probably a conscious farewell to a filmic representation system while Matar extraños turned out to be an enigmatic first test; El palacio is a new attempt at renovation, an experiment. These last two films show a novel element —the shifting of the family and domestic spheres to a public and political space. Whereas Matar extraños used revolution as its focal concept, in this enigmatic film the microphysics of power is the permeating idea.
The opening wide shot is brilliant; the 17 women who appear in this film are washing their teeth at the same time. Among this group there are little girls, young and old women, and they are not at a bathroom but at a patio filled with large sinks. Their activity unites them, though their experiences and, eventually, their functions differ. Where are they? For several minutes the only thing we will see are the diverse cleaning-related actions performed by these women. Everything happens in an old house, without any indication of its location. Abstraction and routine. Pereda is capable of filming someone hanging clothes to dry or making a bed as if those were aesthetic events.
A donkey wonders around and imposes a comical tone for a moment; but a donkey is an animal used for servitude. And the title of the film mentions a palace.
Jan Němec’s original proposal in 1966 to adapt Kafka’s Metamorphosis as a theatrical feature was rejected by the Czech state film board. In 1974, he was forced into exile — first seeking refuge in Germany: 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
…even after a number of viewings, I’m still not sure if what I have seen is a kind of high Euro-modernist masterpiece about race, culture, urban rage and alienated identity – or a perversely opaque and frustrating essay in enigma, a labyrinth of blind alleys, in which putative solutions are forbiddingly walled off. It is a film which gestures at the literal incomprehensibility of experience, how it resists encirclement and extends beyond the perimeters of perception and interpretation. The mood of Code Unknown is moreover often fractious, crackling with unease and ill-humour, and yet this is a movie whose images and personae linger in the mind, and which can deliver dazzlingly generous, compassionate insights…
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian Continue reading
In a little village somewhere in Africa, a boy named Kirikou is born. But he’s not a normal boy, because he knows what he wants very well. Also he already can speak and walk. His mother tells him how an evil sorceress has dried up their spring and devoured all males of the village except of one. Hence little Kirikou decides, he will accompany the last warrior to the sorceress. Due to his intrepidity he may be the last hope of the village. Continue reading
Marion is about to divorce from her husband and takes her 15-year-old niece Pauline on a vacation to Granville. She meets an old love…
ERICH ROHMER, ‘PAULINE AT THE BEACH’
IT is late summer on the coast of Normandy where the beaches are broad and the weather unpredictable. As always, the North Atlantic is far too cold for anyone used to swimming in the soothing warmth of tropic seas, but the afternoon sun is bright and hot and the breezes are bracing.
This is the halcyon setting of ”Pauline at the Beach,” Eric Rohmer’s effortlessly witty, effervescent new French film that opens today at the Lincoln Plaza 1. ”Pauline at the Beach” is a comedy of romantic manners about six civilized people, each of whom works stubbornly, and at cross purposes, to enlighten someone else about the true nature of love. It’s a sunny month in the country. 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