Showing posts sorted by relevance for query second run. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query second run. Sort by date Show all posts

14 September 2014

DVD Review - The Jester's Tale (1964)

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25 January 2014

DVD Review - Iluminacja (1973)

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Genre:
Drama
Distributor:
Second Run
Rating:
15
DVD Release Date:
27th January 2014 (UK)
Director:
Krzysztof Zanussi
Cast:
Stanislaw Latallo, Malgorzata Pritulak, Monika Dzienisiewicz-Olbrychska
Buy: Illumination (Iluminacja) [DVD]
Iluminacja is a Polish film from 1973; Krzysztof Zanussi directed it and it won all three main prizes at the 1973 Locarno International Film Festival and got a special award t 1974 Gdynia Film Festival. It has been added to Second Run’s catalogue and they specialize in Czech and Polish films.

The film is about a young physicist Franciszek Retman(Played by Stanislaw Latallo) and it’s about his self-discovery though his time at University and beyond. It mixes both fiction filmmakers and documentary filmmaking and at times morphs into an essay film. It’s both a very good coming of age film about a man who starts off as idealistic wantabe physicist to a broken man who realizes there is more to life than just science. He experiences love, loss, betrayal and eventually has a existential crisis as you do.

The film was one of the most pleasant surprises from Second Run in a while. I have to admit a film about a physicist which was described as a essay film really didn’t appeal to me but it’s much more accessible than the plot synopsis suggests. The film should connect with anyone who has been a 20 something that questions their place in the universe. It’s worth checking out and it should raise some interesting questions about your place in the universe and the meaning of it.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


25 October 2013

The White Dove (1960), Josef Kilián (1963) DVD Reviews

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The White Dove (1960)
Rating:
PG
Director:
Frantisek Vlácil
Cast:
Katerina Irmanovová, Anna Pitasová, Karel Smyczek
Josef Kilián (1963)
Rating:
n/a
Director:
Pavel Jurácek, Jan Schmidt
Cast:
Pavel Bartl, Pavel Silhánek, Stanislav Michler
Buy The White Dove & Josef Kilián: DVD

Second Run has continued it’s love of 60s Czechoslovakian New Wave cinema with films by two of it’s key players. The people in question are František Vláčil and Pavel Jurácek. Vláčil would later direct what is often considered the greatest Czech film ever made Marketa Lazarová and Jurácek is more well known as a writer for his screenplays for Ikarie XB-1 and Daisies. All of these films are available from Second Run and all are highly recommended.

The first film is The White Dove. It’s a very simple story it’s about a boy who nurses a dove after he injures it so it can return back home. It contrasts his story and the girl Susanne waiting for it’s return to his home in the Baltics. There really is much more to that story than that, it’s only slightly over an hour. It exceeds its simplistic story which wonderful cinematic touches throughout. It’s compared to Kes in the press notes but it’s a very strange comparison cause it has tons of surrealistic touches, which is the complete opposite of Ken Loach’s great film. It’s photography is truly stunning and leaves indelible marks on the viewer’s memory, it won award for it’s cinematographer Jan Curík who would later shoot Valerie and Her Week of Wonders and The Joke.

Jan Curík also shot the other film on the disc Josef Kilián. It’s directed by Pavel Jurácek and Jan Schmidt and is only slightly over half an hour. It’s obviously inspired by Kafka and it’s no coincidence that the year the film came out 1963 was the same year that there was a large conference which including a cultural reappraisal of Kafka’s work. It was later “banned forever” after the 1968 Soviet invasion.

It’s a Kafkaesque nightmare of bureaucracy. A young man goes to a cat rental place to rent a cat for a day (best idea ever for non cat owners) but when he comes back to return the cat. He then enters into a world of bureaucracy to try to solve his issue. There is a truly stunning shot of him against a wall of filing cabinets, which is reminiscent of the famous un-filmed deleted scene of Brazil, which was used for the criterion cover. It has cats and has a labyrinth of surreal bureaucracy so ticks 2 important cinematic boxes for me.

So overall another great release from Second Run and hopefully more hidden Czech gems will come in the near future. According to the booklet Karel Zeman’s A Jester’s Tale will be come out soon which Pavel Jurácek also wrote and hopefully The Joke comes out so I can see it.

★★★★

Ian Schultz


11 September 2013

Ikarie XB-1 DVD Review

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Release Date:
23rd September 2013 (UK)
Rating:
15
Distributor:
Second Run
Director:
Jindrich Polák
Cast:
Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Smolík, Dana Medrická
Buy:
Ikarie XB-1 [DVD]

Ikarie XB-1 is a fascinating piece of pre-2001: a Space Odyssey science fiction filmmaking. It was made 5 years before in 1963 and it’s from Czechoslovakia, which is not known for it’s science fiction with the possible exception of the writer Karel Ćapek. Ikarie XB-1 has never been released on these shores until now with Second Run’s (a label who specialises in Czech cinema) release. The film however has it admirers including esteemed directors like Joe Dante and Alex Cox. It has also been suggested its one of many space films Stanley Kubrick watched before he embarked on the task of making 2001.

The film’s source comes from one of the most world-renowned science fiction writers Stanislaw Lem, he also wrote the book Solaris is based on. Stanislaw like most great sci-fi writers dealt with philosophical themes and his work also at times were very satiric. He is also considered one of the most difficult writers to translate because of his elaborate word formulations. The book Ikarie XB-1 is based on The Mangellanic Cloud that has not yet been translated into English.

Ikarie XB-1 is not that dissimilarly to the better-known Solaris as both films are set almost entirety on a space ship. It is equally a journey though space to discover new worlds (in Ikarie XB-1 they are trying to find alien life on star near Alpha Centauri) and a mental one. Solaris is definitely a more artistically successful film but that’s part of the mastery of its director Andrei Tarkovsky.

Ikarie XB-1 has fantastic production design that at times is almost hallucinatory with its shapes and patterns of the interior of the ship. The cinematography throughout is really stunning with lots of strange disorienting angles that get the viewer into the mind-set of the crew. The outer space sequences are surprisingly effect and don’t seem too cheesy.

It’s overall a really surprising piece of early intelligent science fiction in cinema (they’re was already lots in the fiction world) that will really surprise a lot of people. The film was cut down by the US distributor and retitled Voyage to the end of the universe. The twist ending was cut and was replaced with a much happier ending but of course Second Run has released the original cut. The DVD is under £10 and it’s certainly worth you investment.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

23 March 2015

DVD Review - Traps (1998)

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Genre:
Drama, Comedy
Distributor:
Second Run
Release Date:
23rd March 2015
Rating: 18
Director:
Věra Chytilová
Cast:
Lenka Vychodilová, Lucie Vackárová, Tomás Hanák
Buy: Traps - [DVD]

Věra Chytilová is often considered a feminist filmmaker even though she would always reject being labelled and called herself an “individualist”. Given the fact the Czechoslovakian communist government oppressed her for years, it’s understandable to see her desire to reject Western labels. Chytilová is best known to Western audiences for her psychedelic masterpiece Daisies, which annoyed the powers so much she could only made one film, Fruits of Paradise, in the next 9 years. In the late ‘70s her blacklisting was lifted and she resumed making films.

Second Run, after releasing Daisies (which I assumed is one of their best selling titles), have made it their goal to release more films from Věra Chytilová. The first one to come out is Traps, which is one of her later films, it came out in 1998. It has a decidedly mixed response on release and it’s not hard to see why. It’s a pitch black comedy about a young vet who is picked up by two men and raped, she later gets her revenge on them by cutting off their testicles.

It’s certainly not a subtle statement on the abuse of power; one of the men is a politician for example and the film starts with some pigs getting their balls cut off. It’s also a brilliant statement on male chauvinism banter; before they pick the woman up they talk about how easy it is to just pick a woman etc. The film pulls a near impossible balancing act when it comes to the depiction of the rapists, obviously you don’t, nor should you, feel sympathy for them, but you can feel their pain of losing their manhood. The two men are portrayed as bourgeois fools, which shows the influence of Luis Buñuel who was a massive influence on almost all Czech New Wave filmmakers.

It’s an angry rallying call to sterilize the ruling class of Czechoslovakia; the government may have changed from communist to capitalist, but their intent hasn’t. Traps also plays like an absurdist comedy, with even elements of populist slapstick comedy which may have troubled some viewers at the time. It completely subverts the genres it’s playing with, like the revenge genre and populist comedy, and remains such a startling film.

★★★★
Ian Schultz

28 January 2013

The Confrontation (Fényes szelek) DVD Review

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Those who have never seen a film by Jancsó from the 1960s, when this Hungarian director was at his peak, are usually astonished by the experience,” says renowned critic Derek Malcolm in a statement that those of us who have seen the masterpieces The Round Up and The Red and the White know only too well. With The Confrontation, the fifth, and hopefully not the last, of the director’s films to be released by Second Run DVD, the results are, at times, equally astonishing and, although the film never reaches the lofty heights of those previously mentioned, it is the film’s beautiful use of colour that sets it apart from the others.

The Confrontation is Jancsó’s first film to make use of colour and, as the informative essay by Graham Petrie included with the DVD makes clear, it is this “visual and aural style of the film” that moves his aesthetic away from the black and white realism of his previous films into a more colourful and co-ordinated direction.

The film is set, much like with Jancsó’s previous films, in Hungary’s past. In this instance the backdrop is the student protests that occurred in the newly Communist Hungary of 1947. The film draws upon the director’s own experiences with the ‘Peoples’ Colleges’ protests, whose aim was to make University more accessible to working class students, and can clearly be seen as a parallel to the student protests that happened in both France and the United States, as well as elsewhere, during 1968.

The film’s story is centred on a demonstration that takes place in the courtyard of a church run school in which the protesting students try to persuade the school’s students to join their cause. It is through this demonstration that the films theme becomes clear. Whereas Jancsó’s previous films concentrated on an exploration of the power of nature, The Confrontation concentrates on an examination of the tactics and beliefs necessary for revolution, with the student’s loyalties split between two leaders; one who prefers to use compromise and negotiation and the other who sees violence as a necessity.

While the film never reaches the heights of Jancsó’s best films, all in all the film is beautifully colourful, wonderfully choreographed, and ultimately a fascinating experience.


Shane James

★★★★

Rating:U
BD Release Date: 28 January 2013 (UK)
Director
Cast: 
Buy:The Confrontation (Fényes szelek) [DVD]

24 November 2012

The Czechoslovak New Wave: A Collection DVD Review

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Second Run has released a limited-edition three-disk set, The Czechoslovak New Wave: A Collection, which features three films from the 1960s: Diamonds of the Night (Jan Němek, 1964), Intimate Lighting (Ivan Passer, 1965) and The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1968). The Czech New Wave was a very brief episode in European cinema that is probably best known for the fact that Milos Forman came out of it (Forman later directed One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus).

During the short five-year period from 1963 to 1968, the finest films of this movement were very much influenced by surrealism or were, conversely, very light comedies. It’s a strange mixture but it works. This box set is a good introduction to both sides of this dichotomy. Diamonds of the Night is an almost silent film about two teenage boys who take a train from one concentration camp to another. There is a spell-binding tracking shot that follows the boys as they escape the train, which goes on for at least three minutes. After their escape, the rest of story is told through fragmented memory and fantasy sequences of before they were captured, their capture, escape and re-capture. It was based on a then-unpublished survivor’s book: in the true story, the person was captured and escaped three times and had no memory of how he made his final escape.

Němek owes a huge debt to Robert Bresson, the minimalist French director, but also his direct opposite, the surrealist Luis Buñuel. The film has a very overt homage to Un Chien Andalou (1929) in a fantasy sequence where the boys are lying on the ground and one’s hand is covered by ants and later face. This juxtaposition of surrealism and realist/minimalist filmmaking is very interesting—it’s just a fantastic, moving, hour-long film.

Intimate Lighting is the “worst” film of the collection, but only because the other two are so much better. It is a light comedy about a group of classical musicians who are in a house rehearsing for an upcoming concert performance, and concerns their interactions with each other. Director Ivan Passer is better-known for his early collaborations with Milos Forman, whose early films he wrote, but he also directed the fantastic neo-noir Cutter’s Way (1981). His directing career seems to have taken off much more in America than in Czechoslovakia: most of his films have been in English.

The Cremator is quite possibly the best film in the collection. It follows a professional cremator in Nazi-occupied Prague. He becomes increasingly deranged, and then gets involved with the Nazis. It is a black comedy: a surreal and unsettling film with a great performance by Rudolf Hrusínský, who resembles an Asian Peter Lorre (although he is not, in fact, Asian.) This film has some of the most impressive use of fish-eye lens shooting in cinema, right up there with Citizen Kane and Seconds, as well as some truly astonishing tracking shots and angles, and imagery that will never leave you.

The director Juraj Herz was a puppeteer and animator before becoming a filmmaker, making him an outcast amongst the Czech New Wave crowd as he had not attended film school with the rest. This background gave him a surrealist animator’s look at film. The dvd also an introduction by the Brothers Quay. The Cremator really must be seen to believed it’s indescribable.

Overall, the box set is a very good value for money: two excellent films and one good one. After the failed Czech Uprising of 1968, the majority of New Wave filmmakers left Czechoslovakia, some going to America and others to Europe. Once you’ve watched these, it would also be worth having a look at Cutter’s Way to see how practices that originated in the Czech New Wave impacted American film. Interesting, the director of Diamonds of the Night has recently stated making low-budget/no-budget digital films that hearken back to the experimental nature of this early work, so the story does not end here.

Ian Schultz

Diamonds of the night (15)
★★★★★

Intimate Lighting (PG)
★★★1/2

The Cremator (15)
★★★★★

Directed ByJan NemecIvan PasserJuraj Herz
Cast Rudolf HrusínskýVlasta Chramostová , Zdenek BezusekKarel BlazekLadislav Jánsky

BuyThe Czechoslovak New Wave - A Collection (3 Film Box Set) [DVD]



26 September 2012

Casa De Lava DVD Review

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★★1/2☆☆

Casa de Lava (called Down to Earth on it’s US relase) is a film made by noted Portuguese filmmaker Pedro Costa. It was his 2nd film and a very loose remake of Val Lewton/Jacques Tourneur’s I walked with a Zombie. It stars Isaah de Bankolé best known to western audiences with his many collaborations with Jim Jarmusch with films such as The Limits of Control and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

The plot is basically an immigrant worker Leaõ in Portugal falls into a coma. A young depressed nurse Mariana has to get Leaõ back to his home in the volcanic Cape Verde islands. Nobody is willing to claim Leaõ and so this stuck on the island. She starts interacting (partly in hope of finding a relative) with the strange locals and is drawn into mysterious community of the volcanic island. She starts a relationship that never goes anywhere with a local, she seems to be more and more connected to Leaõ. Leaõ also eventually wakes up but is just a stranger in his own land. Many of the inhabitant’s wishes to make the journey to Portugal out of financial need because of Portugal’s colonisation of the island.

My biggest problem with the film is I just wish it were a total zombie film and not try be a zombie film without zombies. The Zombie film was always political and yes the people are of the island are kinda zombies and dead in a way. It however would have been more enjoyable if they were actual zombies. There are numerous shots of the volcanoes that are beautiful but they linger and linger and just bored the hell out of me eventually.

It has an interesting film about the colonisation of islands in Africa by the Portuguese in it for about 20 minutes. It however left be cold and I didn’t care at all about the characters, it left me unengaged with the characters. It was all done very realistically and I would have preferred a supernatural twist (instead of the metaphorical zombie), which Costa originally planned to do, as evident on the bonus interview on the Second Run DVD.


Ian Schultz

Rating:15
DVD Re-release Date: 24th September 2012(UK)
Directed by: Pedro Costa
Cast: Inês de Medeiros, Isaach De Bankolé, Edith Scob, Pedro Hestnes
Buy Casa De Lava: DVD[1994]