Krzysztof Kieslowski – Przypadek AKA Blind Chance [+Extras] (1987)

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Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blind Chance is a powerful political fable that provides an early glimpse at the unique style that would later lead to acclaimed international successes like the Three Colors Trilogy and The Double Life of Veronique. As with the later films, Kieslowski displays a deeply erotic, sensual sensibility and a warm humanism that inflects every facet of this complex film. He also shows signs of the spiritual outlook and interest in fate and overlapping chronologies that is especially prevalent in the films he’s best known for. Blind Chance begins with a brief, elliptical precis of the early life of Witek (Boguslaw Linda), starting with a few childhood scenes, his first love, his days in medical school, and finally the death of his father. Many of these earlier memories will later be shown to be false or at least incomplete, hazily remembered scenes from the distant past that have taken on iconic status in Witek’s mind even if the particulars aren’t quite accurate. Continue reading

Tomasz Wasilewski – Zjednoczone stany milosci AKA United States of Love (2016)

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Tomasz Wasilewski’s United States of Love may take place just after 1989’s felling of the Berlin Wall but little of the era’s euphoric optimism transfers to the Polish writer-director’s dispassionate yet engrossing third feature. Broken down into loosely formed chapters whose pages overlap and intersect with purposeful randomness, Wasilewski’s film sees his nation on the point of transition from its barren communist past to a new era of potential enlightenment: clothes, electronic goods and Whitney Houston posters no less. However, it is the day to day lives and struggles of four women who are our focus. Continue reading

Andrzej Zulawski – Szamanka AKA Chamanka [+Extras] (1996)

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ANDRZEJ ZULAWSKI’S adaptation of Manuela Gretkowska’s provocative and hugely successful novel reaches new extremes in the depiction of brutality, sex, and passion as it tells the story of a young(ish) anthropologist driven by the mystery surrounding the death of a recently discovered shaman; and his growing obsession with an enigmatic yet violently perverse beauty known as “The Italian”.SZAMANKA (She-Shaman) is a film ‘without brakes’. Above all else, it is a ‘demonic’ film where characters are battlegrounds in the war between demons and angels, where angels are agents of God and demons are those of the Devil. This pulpy, sexually charged tale with its deranged erotic futurism underlines Zulawski’s commitment to stretch the limits of aesthetic expression by exploring themes beyond the pale in conventional cinema. Violence, exuberance and sexuality are its key ingredients. Through hysteria, possession and hallucination we see what the Polish writer Stanislaw Przybyszewski called ‘naked soul’. Continue reading

Christopher Doyle – Warsaw Dark (2009)

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Warsaw, night, a club by the river. Ojka – young and beautiful prostitute runs out to the parking lot. Wolski-fat, aging politician follows her, lured by her charm. None of the realizes that Ojka is only a bait, and Wolski is going to die in a few minutes…This is a begging of the movie with the study of strange relationship between various elements. The movie is a good description of a new, yet complicated Polish reality. Many interesting characters that appear on screen make the film vivid and real. It is also universal-as an intense, electrifying love story. Also, as a description of journey that begins in total darkness and ends in somewhere brighter light of hope. Continue reading

Agnieszka Smoczynska – Córki dancingu AKA The Lure (2015)

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One dark night, at water’s edge, a family of musicians encounter aquatic sirens Silver and Golden. After assuring the family that they won’t eat them up, the winsome sirens are recruited to join the Figs and Dates band at a neon-lit Warsaw dance club. When Silver becomes romantically entangled with beautiful blonde bassist Mietek, the more cunning Golden, who cannot escape her bloodthirsty nature, worries that her sister’s relationship will doom their shared dream of swimming to a new life in America. Continue reading

Krzysztof Zanussi – Barwy ochronne AKA Camouflage (1977)

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A group of students are spending the summer vacation at a university camp studying the science of linguistics. One of the camp directors, Jaroslaw, is a young professor who prefers the straightforward, intimate approach to students. He is opposed in his liberal views by Jakub, who likes to manipulate people. There is a confrontation from the beginning when Jaroslaw allows to attend the seminar a student who presents the views not according to the official line. In the end, a jury prize is given to mediocre paper, while the suspected school of thought still draws a recommendation. Finally the deputy rector arrives for the closing ceremonies, and since he disfavors the line of thought awarded by the recommendation the tensions rise. They climax when student in question bites the rector in the ear while receiving recommendation. The confrontation results in a scandal and the police is called in. Continue reading