This is about a self-styled New York hipster who is paid a surprise and quite unwelcome visit by his pretty sixteen-year-old Hungarian cousin. From initial hostility and indifference a ... See full summary »
One of Luis Bunuel's most free-form and purely Surrealist films, consisting of a series of only vaguely related episodes - most famously, the dinner party scene where people sit on ... See full summary »
The fire department in a small town is having a big party when the ex-boss of the department celebrates his 86th birthday. The whole town is invited but things don't go as planned. Someone ... See full summary »
With only the plan of moving in together after high school, two unusually devious friends seek direction in life. As a mere gag, they respond to a man's newspaper ad for a date, only to find it will greatly complicate their lives.
Three teenagers are confined to an isolated country estate that could very well be on another planet. The trio spend their days listening to endless homemade tapes that teach them a whole ... See full summary »
In a small dilapidated village in 1990s Hungary, life has come to a virtual standstill. The autumn rains have started. The villagers expect to receive a large cash payment that evening, and... See full summary »
In this film, 'Her' refers to both Paris, the character of Juliette Janson and the actress playing her, Marina Vlady. The film is a kind of dramatised documentary, illustrating and ... See full summary »
A supposedly idyllic weekend trip to the countryside turns into a never-ending nightmare of traffic jams, revolution, cannibalism and murder as French bourgeois society starts to collapse ... See full summary »
Two teenage girls, both named Marie, decide that since the world is spoiled they will be spoiled as well; accordingly they embark on a series of destructive pranks in which they consume and destroy the world about them. This freewheeling, madcap feminist farce was immediately banned by the government. Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <email@example.com>
Being interested in surreal films generally and Czech films particularly (I'm a big Svankmajer fan), I thought I'd give this one a go. Well, this is the first time I've ever agreed with communist censors. 'Depicting the wanton' is right. It is simultaneously the most pretentious and the most banal product of Czech New Wave cinema.
Chytilova's mercifully brief film follows two spoiled brats as they gorge and entertain themselves at the expense of others; seriously, about half of this film involves eating. They are taken on dates with dull-looking gentlemen whom they manipulate, ditching them at the train station after their meal has been paid for. Other men they simply ignore, such as one butterfly-obsessed suitor who calls to plead forgiveness and profess his love, as the girls gleefully scissor bananas, pickles and sausages in what may be the most on-the-nose example of feminist symbolism ever expressed in film.
It's fortunate that the girls are attractive, because they are otherwise intolerably obnoxious, acting like 12-year-olds at a slumber party -- jumping around, cooing to each other, and laughing in chipmunk-like squeals. At one point there is the following exchange, which sums them up nicely: "Your legs are crooked." "Don't you know that's just what I based my personality on?" That is, beyond their pointless antics, they have no personalities. I'm sure there are those who think this kind of thing is a 'daring' display of grrl power, but in reality it could not make women look worse. "We're supposed to be spoiled, aren't we?" -- lines like this make me wonder whether the characters were ever intended to be sympathetic. (If they are intended as a self-critique, they are a critique of the hedonism brought on by liberalization of Czech society, certainly something Chytilova does not intend.) At least the conclusion was satisfying, involving a deserved death by chandelier.
Chytilova's idea of surrealism is color filters and hyperactive whimsy. A few scenes capture interest, but in general little thought is given to composition. At certain points, especially near the end, the film approaches Godard-esque pretension, which only added to my frustration. It's not just farce, it's politically relevant farce! Well, I'm not fooled.
During the film's last moments, a typewriter scrolls the words 'This film is dedicated to those who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce', as explosions detonate in the background. The implication is that you, the viewer, should go screw yourself if you think you have any right to criticize narcissistic wastefulness, especially when there are wars going on. It's a perfect encapsulation of liberalism: only things which directly harm other people are worth worrying about. It's hard to imagine a more trivial moral standard, but there it is, dressed up as radical chic. In the end, there are only two types of people who enjoy this movie: quirk-addicts who want a film to giggle over, and leftist pseudo-intellectuals, for whom nothing is too banal to justify in the name of rebellion. I'm neither, so I thought the film was garbage.
5 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?