Friday, October 21, 2005

Films in the Czech Republic (so far)

Last night several of us (Dawn, Hubert, and Vivian from Fulbright, plus one of Vivian’s Czech friends) went to Kino Aero to see Wim Wenders’ “Don’t Come Knocking,” which had Czech subtitles that were rather interesting to try to follow. We thought the movie was pretty good on the whole, although I was left wondering whether Sam Shepard has really aged dreadfully or if it was partly makeup. It has been awhile since I saw him in anything.
Due to the relatively affordable (for Americans) price of films here and the presence of other people to incite me to leave home in the evening and attend them (or for that matter to watch them on the VCR in my apartment), I have already seen several movies here. (Let’s hope that I spell the titles correctly AND that these appear properly on the Web.)
The first was “Horem Padem.” It's supposed to be pretty good, but my copy is not subtitled, so Jesse and I were only able to get the general idea. It is one of those films with groups of loosely affiliated characters, or in some cases characters whose affiliation to the others remains a complete mystery (at least to those of us who need subtitles). It also struck us as being one of a new genre that emphasizes everything dysfunctional or criminal in the present Czech Republic, and caused us to inquire (since we had also seen the Svankmajer film about the wooden baby, whose name I'm forgetting) whether there is something we ought to know about Czech women and the maternal instinct. The director is Jan Hrebejk. Dawn (who has seen it subtitled) and my former tutor Věra have both assured me that there are many subtleties, so I look forward to seeing it again with subtitles.
The second was “Štěsti,” which has just come out and which I did see with subtitles, on our first trip to Kino Aero (with Alex and Dawn). It was well received by both Czechs and Americans in a full theater. This also had some dysfunctional characters, but the protagonists grow on a person over the course of the film, and the situations/plot are well conceived. I thought it had a pleasing mix of humor and seriousness. The director is Bohdan Slama, who I believe also directed “Divoké Včeli,” which I liked. Věra recommends this film as being reasonably true to contemporary life, rather than concentrating solely on the seriously maladjusted (of whom I gather she sees enough at work).
The third was “Hrubeš a Mareš jsou kamaradi do deste,” directed by Vladimir Moravek. It is also brand new and initially Jesse and I thought that the lack of subtitles would cause us serious problems, but eventually we followed it quite well, I think because it is so bizarre that either one takes to it or not. Or, at least, it is bizarre by American standards. It may not be by Czech standards. (Věra says it’s too much like everything else by Moravek and his crew.) I'm sure that it would have helped to have followed all the dialog perfectly, but this wasn't necessary. Also, I gather that a subtitled version is available here in Prague, so I hope to see it again and get a better sense of what the minor characters are up to, which is clearly equally weird as anything Hrubeš and Mareš come up with. I cannot recommend it to everyone, but it appealed to my twisted sense of humor.
Next week the Prague gang anticipates seeing “Manderlay;” we would also like to see more Czech films but preferably with subtitles, which may mean getting them on DVD. And, on November 2, a film about Toyen (my dissertation topic!) premieres. We may take the trouble to get opening night tickets for that.

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Anonymous Jesse said...

The Švankmajer film is Otesánek. I know this is coming in late, but I had it on the brain since I just today walked by a pub in Brno also called Otesánek. Yikes.

November 01, 2005 8:19 PM  

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