Documentary maker Jan Holman follows the ultrafamous singer/songwriter Jaromír Novahica during his tour with the band Cechomor. The combination is very succesful, but it draws a heavy toll on the band members and Jan Holman.
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Jan Holman, a Dutch documentary maker, runs in a Czech alcohol clinic into Jaromír Nohavica, an ultrafamous singer/songwriter. Holman gets interested in Jaromír and follows him during his comeback. To help his former guitarist Karel Plíhal, who is unable to speak anymore, Nohavica decides to cooperate with the band Cechomor. The success is overwhelming, the combination attracts full houses. But soon the success draws a heavy toll on the band members and Jan Holman. Written by
Arnoud Tiele (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A truly extra-ordinary voyage through the breakdown of a band
This is a strange film,not in a weird art-house kind of way, not a psychedelic kind of weird where strangeness is used to show how clever the film-maker is, but the kind of weird that sets the Coen Brothers apart from the usual Hollywood pack. The film centres on the life of Czech folksinger Jaromír Nohavicareal and his struggle of to give up drinking. Having been exiled from his homeland by the communist government for his dissident songs, his return to what was then Czechoslovakia was that of a people's hero. That he is utterly unknown outside the former eastern block countries is a little disconcerting for western viewers, but Slovak friends assure me it would be like seeing Johnny Cash, or Willie Nelson in the title role. In the east, his alcoholism and triumph over it were all well documented in the media, so the films initial start concentrating on his rehabilitation and the videoing of his therapy seems all too plausible as a genuine documentary.
As Jaromir continues his recovery, his guitarist and friend Karel Phiral becomes increasingly jealous of the support and friendship he's found in the detox asylum. Having been refused entry because he wasn't in need of any help, Karel begins to retreat further and further away from society. Worried about his friends mental health, Jaromir enlists the help of a Czech folk band to stage a fake funeral and jolt his friend out of his depression. This unlikely meeting of musicians ends up producing a rock and folk fusion band that tours Czechoslovakia.
A little strange you might say but not all that weird, what's strange is the tour did happen, Jaromir did stage a funeral for his friend and the folk band were indeed courted by punk legend and composer for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra - Jaz Coleman. However, the events in the film now subtly diverge from reality in such a way as to make this a truly magical and outstanding film. The open documentary style means you never have to suspend your disbelief, or question the increasingly odd occurrences that surround the band. The fact that all the musicians play themselves, and that there's no "acting" only adds to the film's charm and ability to delight.
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