Marilyn Jordan (Susan Anspach) is a bored, depressed American housewife, married to a rich Swedish businessman with two seemingly perfect children. She tries to “spice up” her existence by surprising the family when she eats their entire dinner, setting the bedclothes on fire and poisoning the pet dog’s milk and then advising it not to drink (the dog does not drink). Eventually Martin, Marilyn’s husband, decides to show her to a psychiatrist, but that only serves to further her frustration. Read More »
A Russian Expatriate Adrift in Berlin
The most striking image in “Gorilla Bathes at Noon,” Dusan Makavejev’s whimsical cinematic collage set in present-day Berlin, is a gigantic statue of Lenin that stands as a ludicrous anachronism in the post-Communist era. In one of the film’s zanier scenes, Victor Borisovich (Svetozar Cvetkovic), an expatriate Russian soldier and the film’s main character, impulsively hoists himself on ropes to the statue’s head to wash its face. Moments later, the police arrive and ensnare him in a net from which he protests, “Ich bin ein Berliner!”
Not long afterward, workers begin detaching the head of the statue from its body. Lifted by crane, the severed head is lowered slowly onto a flatbed truck and carted off through the streets of Berlin. So much for Communism and kitsch monuments exalting its heroes.
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Innocence Unprotected was originally filmed in 1941 under the title Nevinoz bez Zastite; it was meant to be the first all-talking feature ever made in Serbia. Yugoslav gymnast Dragolijub Aleksic wrote, produced, directed and starred in this simple tale of a young man who rescues his lady love from her wicked stepmother. The film was never released, falling victim to the Nazi censors; later on, the film was condemned as pro-Nazi (huh?) Flash-forward to 1968: documentary filmmaker Dusan Makavejev unearthed this forgotten film, expanded upon it with newsreel footage of Dragolijub Aleksic performing his athletic feats and filmed interviews with the surviving cast members, and came up with Innocence Unprotected. The result is less a dramatic film than a montage-like celebration of Yugoslavian customs, folklore, and humor. Makavejev referred to Innocence Unprotected as a “montage of attractions”; viewers will no doubt find those attractions most attractive. Read More »
Dusan Makavejev – Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T. AKA Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967)
An early (1967) film by Dusan Makavejev, the master of the eastern European dirty joke (WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Montenegro). The passionate affair of a telephone operator and a Marxist rodent exterminator is intercut with lectures on criminology and sexology, with occasional cooking lessons. It’s very funny and, with its ragged arrangement of warring styles and ideologies, very original: it’s like a smutty, sticky-fingered Godard. – Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader Read More »
Dušan Makavejev’s anarchic 1974 comedy goes even further than his previous W.R., depicting more trangressions than the average viewer’s imagination could conjure up.
From Time Out London:
Potentially one of the most scandalous films ever made—except that it has been little seen outside France and has not aged well. Seemingly completely episodic, the ‘plot’ follows the adventures of a beauty queen (Laure), a certified virgin who escapes a disastrous honeymoon with the richest man in the world to join a group of carefree sensualists. The latter are the once-notorious Otto Muehl troupe, who delight in pissing and shitting as a public spectacle. This is cross-cut with the journey of the good ship SS Survival (which sports Karl Marx for a masthead) on the Seine. Laure herself sought legal suppression of certain shots which, in their blanked out form, ironically suggest even more sexual activity on her part. Sadly, this highly idiosyncratic melange of sex and politics, for all its liberating pretensions, only served to put Makavejev’s career back a good few steps. –David Thompson Read More »
Dušan Makavejev’s debut feature, establishing his freewheeling, exploratory, and often childlike style.
From the Chicago Reader:
[One of the best Chicago releases of 1974.] “His first, seen here last, like all his others only better. A parable on Socialist living, enacted on the playground of peasants in the industrial landscape.” –Myron Meisel
From Time Out London:
Makavejev’s first feature is a delightful, typically eccentric concoction, centred very loosely indeed around a story about an engineer who visits a new town to assemble mining machinery. There his devotion to work fouls up his relationship with his beloved, while a fellow worker encounters problems when his wife discovers he has a mistress. A freewheeling kaleidoscope mixing comedy and social comment as it deals with both labour and sexual politics, not to mention many seemingly unrelated topics such as hypnotism and culture (there’s a marvellous climactic scene with Beethoven performed in an enormous foundry while the heroine conjures her own ode to joy), it defies description but is extremely entertaining. – Geoff Andrew
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In a Central European country a provincial town prepares for the king’s visit, and the chief of the secret police arrives to uncover a suspected anarchist plot. This is perhaps Makavejev’s most “mainstream” film, and an unexpected delight. Its pleasures are both the director’s usual satirical commentary on revolutionary politics, and the eccentricities and quirks of the individual characters and their bizarre, mad interactions. Read More »