Ktismatics

22 October 2008

Daisies by Chytilová, 1966

Filed under: Movies — ktismatics @ 9:46 am

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13 Comments »

  1. Love it. And our milieu was in competition with it for most dysfunctional: the girl’s mother I saw it with was strung out on all sorts of oxycontin and marijuana; the girl tried her best that entire weekend to be channel Rosemary Hoyt (to no avail); the mother’s dwarfish Brazilian husband…you get the point.

    CPC had a post on this pretty recently (I wonder what he – and you – think of Jan Svankmajer); and I’ve told you that the best film this year is by Chytilová’s pal, along with Makavejev, Menzel – I Served the King of England. The Czechs filmed virulent communism a lot more interestingly than the Poles, I think. Satellite of love…

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    Comment by Seyfried — 23 October 2008 @ 8:53 am

  2. I’ve already put the King of England movie in the Netflix queue based on your recommendation, Seyfried. By the time a movie finally shows up in the mail I usually have forgotten how I heard about it. Parody Center eh? Okay, that makes sense. “The mother’s dwarfish Brazilian husband”? Oh my. I loved the last sequences of this movie, at the banquet, as is evidenced by my selection of screen shots. I’m not sure what to make of the two girls being wrapped in newspaper at the very end — clearly they’re laid out on the table as something to be consumed, presumably as happy hard workers fed to the economy. Is the newspaper solely a reference to politics, or is it the way the Czech butchers used to wrap up meat I wonder?

    Svankmajer I don’t know anything about, but I see he’s an animator so I suspect Dejan would have an opinion.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 23 October 2008 @ 9:55 pm

  3. Those are great images…and I didn’t even see the film!

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    Comment by attentiontolife — 24 October 2008 @ 4:59 am

  4. Maybe we should invite ourselves to a banquet and re-enact the scene, ATL? Then we too could be really happy.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 24 October 2008 @ 5:08 am

  5. “Svankmajer I don’t know anything about, but I see he’s an animator so I suspect Dejan would have an opinion.”

    Yes, he’s great. Check out his version of Alice. I’m a big fan of Chytilova and Menzel (and of course the great Makavejev) too. I haven’t seen I Served the King of England but the book is lovely. It’s by Bohumil Hrabal, who also wrote the novels Larks on a String and Closely Observed Trains which Menzel made into films.

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    Comment by NB — 24 October 2008 @ 7:22 am

  6. Thanks NB. Netflix doesn’t carry Makavejev’s Mysteries of the Organism, and Sweet Movie sounds repulsive but not in a good way. I could be wrong of course, and often am. I’m also worried that I’m beginning to get tired both of fiction and of movies. I picked up a novel at the library yesterday that seemed to offer great potential, about a doctor who comes home to discover that his wife has been replaced by her own double. Already after a dozen pages I’m bored with it. I just finished DeLillo’s Falling Man and found it quite ordinary.

    And last night I actually walked out of a movie before it was over. It was a series of shorts filmed during the local film festiva’s “24 Hour Shootout,” the task being to make a movie start to finish in the allotted time span, incorporating a couple of specific references to make sure the movie is freshly written and filmed. Most of them attempted to be funny, and the nearly full house laughed out lout a lot, suggesting that they really wanted these movies to be funny. I wanted this too, since for awhile I’ve been toying with the idea of coordinating some sort of collective moviemaking intervention at my daughter’s high school.

    Briefly my idea is this: two zombies are watching tv, clicking through the channels, and each channel they land on is one of the high school moviemakers’ films. So the shorts can be 5 seconds long or 5 minutes, whole stories or fragments, but they’d all have something to do with the undead. Then instead of holding a competition, edit all the shorts together into a single film — call it “Reruns.” But now after watching the results of the 24-hour shootathon I’m concerned that it’ll just be an exercise in self-celebratory mediocrity. Maybe I should write a story about a guy who organizes a high school movie project like this and it goes either spectacularly well or, more likely, horriby wrong…

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    Comment by ktismatics — 25 October 2008 @ 8:26 am

  7. Well, WR is really one of my favourite films. I still love it as much now as when I first saw it on late night TV too many years ago. So: Buy it! (BUY! BUY! BUY! YOURS to OWN on DVD on Monday … if you can be bothered…) After the film there was a chat between Makavejev and the late, great George Melly where they slowly got wrecked on a selection of booze. Ah, they just don’t make TV like that any more.
    Sweet Movie is good too; pretty in your face though. Melly has a cameo as a film director.

    But maybe watching films and reading books isn’t the thing right now. I often feel bored or uninspired by even the greatest stuff. Maybe “bored” isn’t the right word. Listless, perhaps. For me, it generally means: do your own stuff, or at least enjoy the silence. I used to consume films and books and art. Really, I used to consume it. I don’t mean that I didn’t think, but I thought that if I consumed enough great and wonderful stuff it would, first: inspire me to do great and wonderful stuff, and secondly: it would give me some sort super-critical eye and intelligence. Well, it didn’t. And I just forgot to enjoy it. Even Proust can be a joyless, consumerist experience if you let it, or want it to.

    You should get that film idea with your daughter going. I like the sound of it. Maybe nearly all – or all – of it will be mediocre. So what? It might be a laugh making it.

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    Comment by NB — 27 October 2008 @ 8:11 am

  8. I WILL NOT BUY! I have, however, requested WR through the local library consortium. They’ve located a copy of the film in Wyoming someplace (the state just north of Colorado), so if all goes well they’ll mail it to my local library, which will email me notification when it arrives. I’ll keep you posted.

    And NB, I’m glad you like the sound of the zombie movie project. I think I’ll do it. I mentioned it to a cinematographer friend who thinks that the proposed structure of the project is very good, since the premise of channel surfing accommodates the variety of moviemaking looks and techniques that the kids might come up with. Plus zombie reality, while extremely hazardous if you happen to live in that reality, is artistically unthreatening for the novice filmmaker. So I’ll keep you apprised of developments on this front as well.

    If I get on with this zombie project, maybe either I just won’t feel like watching so many movies or else I’ll feel renewed enthusiasm. On that score, I think I’ll bump Time Out up toward the top of the Netflix queue.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 27 October 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  9. “If I get on with this zombie project, maybe either I just won’t feel like watching so many movies or else I’ll feel renewed enthusiasm.”

    See: it works out either way. You know, I’ve walked out of the cinema a few times. It generally feels great. You’ve lost a few bucks, but at least you don’t have to keep watching crap.

    Time Out? You mean that French film that came out a few years ago, Emploi de Temps? I wouldn’t bother if I were you. (I have to say I think French cinema is in the doldrums these days – even Godard is a boring, bitter old git.) In real life, when somebody like that loses their job they go mental and shoot their family and then themselves. This happened in the UK at a big country manor a couple of months ago. Mother and daughter killed because he couldn’t bear the idea of them knowing his failure, even after he killed himself. Very sad. My partner says it’s all part of an obsessional, masculine, death-driven fantasy… or something like that. I just want to give them a slap.

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    Comment by NB — 28 October 2008 @ 6:19 am

  10. Somehow I was under the impression that Time Out deals with the undead, but maybe I got that wrong. Even if it’s about worker rage, that’s related to my current agenda anyway. I did like the recent French zombie movie They Came Back, on which I recently put up a few screengrabs.

    “Obsessional, masculine, death driven-fantasy” — what else is there to live for if not that?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 October 2008 @ 5:39 am

  11. Hm. After checking imdb, there seems to be several films called Time Out, including Ya Ostayus, a Russian film made last year about a kind of limbo world. Looks pretty good, actually.

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    Comment by NB — 29 October 2008 @ 8:00 am

  12. I bet that’s the one I’ve heard about. Sadly it too is unavailable on Netflix, and none of the libraries in the consortium carries it either. I did find it online here, but no subtitles. By the description and initial look-in it seems like It’s a Wonderful Life meets the Coen Brothers. The French Time Out I’m still going to watch despite your thumbs down — the premise reminds me a bit of Kurosawa’s Ikiru. Also, I think we need to extend the boundaries of the category “Undead” to include those who have lost their jobs yet who still find themselves situated among the gainfully employed.

    Coincidentally, Time Out was also the name of a comic I used to draw and distribute to the parents of my kid’s classmates when she was a grammar schooler. The title referred to the popular disciplinary move of putting the disobedient child in isolation. Here’s episode 3 of a series of 21, as I recall.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 29 October 2008 @ 8:48 am

  13. I just received email notification that MR by Makavejev has just arrived at my local library on loan from Wyoming and they’re holding it for me. Eee-hah!

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    Comment by ktismatics — 30 October 2008 @ 12:50 pm


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