Frantisek Vlácil – Dým bramborové nate AKA Smoke on the Potato Fields [+extras] (1977)

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Synopsis:

In this 1976 character study by Czech director Frantisek Vlacil, a stout middle-aged physician whose marriage has come apart (Rudolf Hrusinsky) establishes a practice in a small town. Gradually he’s drawn into the lives of his patients—a childless couple, a pregnant girl with a stern mother, the son of a duck farmer—and each relationship reveals a bit more about him and the idyllic but insular community. Vlacil is hardly known for his light touch, but the film’s austere look and elegiac chamber music, at times Bressonian in their severity, convey the doctor’s quest for fulfillment and peace of mind. Hrusinsky, who was blacklisted in Czechoslovakia for his anticommunist stance, ennobles his role by underplaying it. Continue reading

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Miroslav Krobot – Díra u Hanusovic (2014)

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When she’s not serving regulars in a pub in a sleepy northern Moravian village, thirtysomething Maruna spends time with indecisive mayor Jura, soft-hearted outsider Olin and philandering roofer Kódl. Or she fights with her domineering mother, who is more inclined towards sister Jaruna, the one who gets the chance to leave this godforsaken place. Lightened with a touch of black humor, Krobot’s laconic village drama develops from a superb script, whose authors drew on their familiarity with the people and the region that made their protagonists who they are. Particularly today, when the word “waiting” is perceived entirely negatively, Krobot’s heroes, quite happy to continue living a fairly humdrum existence, might appear to have come from another planet. A powerful element of the film, gradually and carefully built into the plot, is the human respect which Krobot, aided by leading Czech actors, is able to convey to his audience. Somewhere in Moravia betrays a certain affinity with the work of the Czech literary classics, the Mrštík brothers, and with the absurd dramas of the 1960s. Continue reading

Karel Kachyna – Láska (1973)

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Quote:
Své milostné okouzlení prožívají nejen mladičtí hrdinové filmu šestnáctiletý Petr a stejně stará dívka Andrea, ale i jejich rodiče, kteří se po letech znovu setkali. Rádoby poetické ladění je však místy násilné stejně jako střídání barvy s černobílými pasážemi. Láska patří mezi Kachyňova normalizační díla, která postrádají osobitost, nahrazuje ji křečovitou stylizací, která postihuje všechny složky filmu. Continue reading

Jan Svankmajer – Konec stalinismu v Cechách AKA Death of Stalinism in Bohemia (1991)

 Jan Svankmajer   Tma/Svetlo/Tma AKA Darkness Light Darkness (1990)

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A bust of Stalin is cut open on an operating table, leading to an elaborate animated depiction of Czech history from 1948 (the Communist takeover) to 1989 (the Velvet Revolution). Some knowledge of the subject is essential in order to understand the film, which is entirely visual. Continue reading

Jan Svankmajer – Tma/Svetlo/Tma AKA Darkness Light Darkness (1990)

 Jan Svankmajer   Flora (1989)

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A human body gradually reconstructs itself as its various component parts crowd themselves into a small room and eventually, after much experimentation, sort out which part goes where. Continue reading

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