Katarzyna Roslaniec – Szatan kazal tanczyc AKA Satan Said Dance (2017)

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In her latest feature film, Satan Said Dance, which was released in Polish theatres on 5 May by Kino Swiat, Katarzyna Roslaniec once again turns her attention to her favourite type of character. Indeed, in all her films she focuses on young girls from today’s youth whose world revolves around shopping, (often unsafe) sex, alcohol, drugs and building up an image. A model which is pushed to extremes in this new opus. Continue reading

Andrzej Wajda – Powidoki AKA Afterimage (2016)

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While he’s exercising filmmaking muscles that are mighty spry for a 90-year-old, no one will mistake Andrzej Wajda’s latest feature for an expression of joie de vivre: “Afterimage” is a somber portrait of a Polish artist who, unlike his portraitist here, was defeated by the fickle shifts of political ideology imposed on art. This respectable if somewhat monotonous drama won’t be an easy sell to offshore audiences for whom its subject, avant-garde artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski is hardly a household name. Moreover the film references his defining triumphs just in passing, focusing instead on bleak later years when he was persecuted for failing to tow the Party aesthetic line. The result is another significant chapter in Polish history from Wajda, albeit one unlikely to travel as widely as some of his past subjects. Continue reading

Piotr Stasik – 21 x Nowy Jork AKA 21 x New York (2016)

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SYNOPSIS
21 X NEW YORK is an intimate portrait of the city and its people. We meet the characters in the NYC subway and we follow them to the surface finding out about their lives, cravings, passions, hopes and dreams – sometimes lost and sometimes still waiting to be fulfilled. What comes out of it is an emotional tale of solitude that haunts us in the 21st century Western world. Continue reading

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