Doctor John, who works in a Prague maternity hospital while still living at home with his mother, is a self-assured philanderer who seduces a young nurse, Anna, and makes her pregnant. All ... See full summary »
Inspired by fairy-tales such as Alice in Wonderland and Little Red-Riding Hood, "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" is a surreal tale in which love, fear, sex and religion merge into one fantastic world.
A small group of adult bourgeois friends are on a day outing in the country, that outing which includes having a picnic. While they are going for a walk after the picnic, they encounter a ... See full summary »
Nothing seems to go right for Rosta, a film director who is shooting a movie called "Paradiso" at a nudist beach. Rosta finds trouble in paradise from day one as he continually clashes with the crew, actors, and his wife.
Jan Antonín Pitínský,
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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>
this anarchi-feminist-surrealist-dadaist-nihilist-WTFist thing is something else
I was told by some film friends a few weeks back when asking about some good surrealist films (not by Bunuel or Lynch) to check out the 1966 Czech flick Daisies, a film that's been out for a while thanks to Criterion. The cover itself looked promising, and probably something I've passed more than once when in the video store: bright colors, a cute girl, hey, why not? This movie is... certainly something else. But what exactly, I am not totally sure.
Perhaps the film had a script - the film's director is also co-writer, experimental filmmaker Vera Chytilova - but damn if I can tell from the look of this. A lot of Daisies seems to be shot and performed on the fly, as though Chytilova were yelling out things to do on the spot for her girls (and this is not uncommon on sets where the truly unusual is taking place). I wasn't sure at first what their names even were, but apparently Ivana Karbanova and Jitka Cerhová both play characters named Marie (that is, Marie #1 and Marie #2). And their characters are... how can one distinguish them apart? They're both consumption machines - of food, of themselves, their self-indulgence as they talk and laugh in their bedroom, or talk and laugh and "do" things out in the real world.
The closest that we get to see anything outside of just pure Id from these gals is when one of them feels down after some guy on a farm doesn't notice them. The other thinks it's stupid to worry about it, but the other can't let go... until the NEXT thing comes around! But really, there are surreal touches here, really out-there things that caught me off-guard, and not just the sudden color changes of the film stock (which is fantastic), but those moments where the director really lets things get wild. At one point the girls get a pair of scissors and chop off parts of their limbs. Don't worry, no blood, it's just their severed heads and limbs doing wacky things, and then the film becomes bits and pieces of paper jangled together.
There is a lot of experimental direction going on here, and I know it's surely for a purpose of some kind. In later years, Chytilova said the movie was a "morality play" about unabashed greed. That's fine. But it's such a strange sit because the film IS certainly satirical, and yet the two characters barely have anyone else to bounce off of; there are maybe one or two very brief scenes where older people (maybe their parents) appear while they're eating or acting their goofy-dippy-WTF selves, and at one point a boy calls on the telephone as they... cut up sausage and eggs and banana and almost cut off their toes and... yeah.
It sounds crazy, but I wish the movie were MORE surreal in a sense. There is still a kind of grounded reality that these girls are in, and despite the attempts to make things deliberately madcap - sound effects of a typewriter not there making it into a musical number, the cracking sounds at the start when the girls first appear and move like, yes, dolls - I also felt like the director was trying to get me, on some level, to see these as real people... sorta.
Okay, maybe not. But the point is this: if it's really more of a super-cartoonish satire of two laughing harpies who have no real direction and are symbols of something, then there needs to be more 'there' there around them (it could have gone longer, if there were more characters around them, but even at 73 minutes it goes on too long). If anything this reminded me most of the Czech-women's-60's take on Beavis and Butt-head - yes, those two ass wipes - who also were symbols meant to be made fun of, not so much emulated, and that was the point of that show. But amid the wanton destruction and the pursuits of pure, adolescent Id-ness, there were other people to make things a little more 'there' in what was going on. Daisies doesn't have that and, frankly, it gets exhausting after a while seeing the same loop of pointed but empty consumption.
And I get it, I do, this is of its time, and it's hard not to respect that. It really aims for the fences as far as doing something no one has seen before, especially in a time and place where everything was still super-rigid. If I'd seen this in the late 60's I'd be on my feet by the time the final text comes up which, I'm not kidding, dedicates the film to people "who get upset only over a stomped-upon bed of lettuce" (!) It's a wild time, and I respect the hell out of it... on an intellectual level, to be sure. But on an emotional/entertainment level, the part where a film even this anarchic should count... nothing. That said, it was obviously ludicrous (though perhaps kind of poetic irony) that the film got banned in its country for, you know, showing up the society it was in.
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