Jerzy Skolimowski

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ranaing83
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#1 Post by ranaing83 » Thu Dec 06, 2007 7:18 pm

Currently, the Anthology Film Archives here in NYC are running (or should I say, finishing up) a Skolimowski retro. They are giving special attention to a film I have been dying to see for a long long time, Deep End (they have a brand new 35mm print). I'm going tonight, so I figured I'd ask what the opinions on the film and Skolimowski in general are. I am a big fan, based on what I have seen. I think his films would make a very nice eclipse set at the least.

From the Anthology Website:

[quote]DEEP END
by Jerzy Skolimowski
SPECIAL REVIVAL PREMIERE – BRAND-NEW 35MM PRINT!
Anthology is thrilled to revive Jerzy Skolimowski's neglected masterpiece DEEP END, in a beautiful, brand-new 35mm print! Only the second English-language film made by Skolimowski (the subject of an Anthology retrospective, running November 30-December 6 – see pages 8-9), DEEP END is an uncanny portrait of youth and sexual awakening, with a tone and mood entirely its own. Focusing on 16-year-old Mike, an attendant at a suburban-London bathhouse, and his preoccupation with his beautiful co-worker Susan, DEEP END demonstrates Skolimowski's acute sensitivity to the emotional turmoil and destructiveness at the heart of awakening desire, as well as his formidable sense of place and period. As Mike's interest in Susan deepens into obsession, DEEP END's tone becomes at once darker and more comic, culminating in a nocturnal journey through the seedy underbelly of early-seventies London, as seen from Mike's wide-eyed perspective. It's an exploration that Skolimowski invests with all the excitement and fear experienced by a fragile and impressionable mind as it collides with a strange, mysterious, and scary new world, and it's conveyed with a cinematic mastery that is simply breathtaking.
With its emotional and psychological frankness, its wonderful performances, and a score by Cat Stevens and Can, DEEP END is one of the greatest and most under-seen films of the seventies!

“Funny, touching, sexy, surreal and tragic – all at the same time and all with the sting of a punch to the nose.â€
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#2 Post by david hare » Thu Dec 06, 2007 9:48 pm

I first saw Deep End introduced by Skolimowsi back when at the SFF (in 1972.) I loved the movie but havent seen it since, and my only outstanding memory is of a horny Diana Dors in the sauna squeezing the life out of John Moulder-Brown and panting "Shoot!... Dribble, dribble....,SHOOT!"

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#3 Post by Cold Bishop » Fri Dec 07, 2007 1:41 am

I noticed it scheduled in Seattle, and I can only hope the NW Film Center picks it up. Doubt they will however.

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#4 Post by pemmican » Fri Dec 07, 2007 4:19 am

It plays Vancouver soon, at the Pacific Cinematheque. I wasn't enjoying the poor quality of the DVD boot of it I picked up - it had a distracting stutter - so I'm looking forward to the new print, and, I hope, a new DVD release.

Did people notice he had a bit part in EASTERN PROMISES?

I liked THE SHOUT as well, but no so much THE LIGHTSHIP - haven't seen anything else. What else is noteworthy by him?

A>

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#5 Post by MichaelB » Fri Dec 07, 2007 7:12 am

Moonlighting (1982) is superb - and when I rewatched it recently for the first time since it came out I found it had dated amazingly little considering it was literally torn from the headlines (it's one of the fastest professional 35mm productions ever made, directly inspired by the Polish military crackdown of December 1981, it was ready for Cannes the following May).

True, the subject of exploited Polish workers in London has suddenly become highly topical again, but the other surprise was that it was so quiet and understated, with an almost Bressonian fatalism about the central situation (Polish workman Nowak - Jeremy Irons, of all people, but he's very good - is the only member of his team who understands English and knows what's going on back home, but decides not to tell the others because it might disrupt their work).

I caught Deep End at the NFT's Skolimowski retrospective in 1983, and I don't think I've had a (legal) chance to see it since. But The Shout has recently had an excellent DVD release on Network Video in the UK, with an anamorphic transfer, commentary and substantial PDF content - at a ridiculously low price.

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#6 Post by ranaing83 » Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:54 am

Just caught Deep End, and I really really loved it. It's one of those unique films that just don't get made anymore. I don't think I've ever seen a film quite like it. The story is both light and dark, and the mix Skolimowski achieves creates this unusual and interesting atmosphere. At times it feels like a coming of age comedy, but it slowly shifts into something more complex. As for the print, it was, for the most part, gorgeous. The opening credits are probably the poorest in terms of quality, but after that everything really clears up. With a nice digital cleaning the film would look pristine (hint, hint Criterion). Now I really, really want to see Moonlighting, I'm angry I missed it.

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#7 Post by MichaelB » Fri Dec 07, 2007 10:56 am

ranaing83 wrote:Now I really, really want to see Moonlighting, I'm angry I missed it.

It's out on DVD, but I haven't sampled this release so can't comment on its quality. But at only $10 from Amazon it's probably worth a gamble.

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#8 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sat Dec 08, 2007 12:37 pm

Skolimowski is one of the great filmmakers of the 60's who has been reduced to being an actor as he can't get film projects off the ground anymore.

His dyptich Rysopis (aka. Identifiction Marks: None) and its' sequel Walkover are superb. He stars in both. In fact he got his start as an actor as both he and Polanski appear in Wajda's Innocent Sorcerers. He co-scripted Knife in the Water.

Bariera is an ABSOLUTE FUCKING MASTERPIECE OF WORLD CINEMA.

Le Depart is quite lively and amusing. After that he made a lavish costume comedy Adventures of Gerard based on a Conan Doyle story starring John Moulder-Brown, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Hawkins and many others. It has barely been seen at all.

Deep End is quite good as are King Queen and Knave (an adaptation fo a Nabokov story in the stye of Frank Tashlin with John Moulder-Brown done up to recemble Jonathan Rosenbaum) and Torrents of Spring - a Yurgenev adaptation with Nastassia Kiski.

In and around all of this is Hands Up! which bega as a black and whie Polish film shot in 1967 but immediately banned. Skolimomski didn't recue and complete it until 1982 when he added color footage of Berui after the war --which everyone on the planet must see.

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#9 Post by david hare » Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:26 pm

Also not forgetting the Godardian Le Depart with Leaud. Walkover was the first Skolimovski I saw in the late 60s and a terrrific movie!
It's been said before but it seems unbelievable none of his earlier work has been released on DVD or even seen more widely for that matter. What's the problem here - are there rights issues? Or just a total lack of interest in the Polish/Czech New Wave? As far as I know even the old 16mm (and some 35mm) prints of the early movies are longer in circulation here in Oz. And havent been for probably 20 years.

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#10 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:04 pm

It's "just a total lack of interest in the Polish/Czech New Wave?"

We have been taught to forget the past and regard the present as "the future" -- held out in front of us like the mechanical rabbitt that keeps dog races going.

Did you know that The Shout was the first Dolby movie?

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#11 Post by MichaelB » Sat Dec 08, 2007 7:09 pm

David Ehrenstein wrote:Did you know that The Shout was the first Dolby movie?


I'm surprised a Ken Russell fan like yourself doesn't know that the first Dolby Stereo film was actually Lisztomania, which came out nearly three years earlier! The Shout also post-dated Star Wars, the first Dolby Stereo film to gain wide release.

On the other hand, I believe The Shout was the first non-studio film to use Dolby Stereo, and it's certainly one of the outstanding early examples of the medium - fortunately, Network's new DVD does an excellent job of conveying the original effect.

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#12 Post by david hare » Sat Dec 08, 2007 8:14 pm

Surely it's more than just this common disinterest in the past - there are enough younger cinephiles and film students around these days to provide a respectable audience for "rediscoveries" like Jerzy. What worries me is how whole areas of cinema seem to go in and out of fashion - the musical, the Czech New Wave, the melodrama - as though the whole post Cold War revolutionary movements in Eastern (and Western) Europe from the mid sixties have absolutely no meaning for today. But you and I are old men David. (Chonologically at least.)

Meeting Skolo in 72 was an experience, to put it mildly. If ever there was a livewire he was it - the then Director of the SFF found himself obliged to tap JS into hot blooded female companionship which was very willingly supplied by then Blonde Bombshell of the nascent Oz Movie Industry, Kate Fitzpatrick who alternated trysts with Jerzy and the brother of a very old mate of mine Charlie Waterstreet. I should add I would have willingly stepped into Kate's Manolo's, but Jerzy's tastes definitely lay elsewhere. Yours truly did manage to "satisfy" him in one sense - as someone who still smoked dope in those days I was also called upon to provide suitable quantities of weed. These were boisterous days. The only other visiting director who came near JS for partying fun was the wonderfully crazy Dusan Makaveyev.

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#13 Post by David Ehrenstein » Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:01 pm


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#14 Post by Gropius » Sat Dec 08, 2007 10:05 pm

David Ehrenstein wrote:Bariera is an ABSOLUTE FUCKING MASTERPIECE OF WORLD CINEMA.

Yes - that was in my top three for the 1960s list project. Unfortunately I haven't had a chance to see the other 60s stuff, but if Barrier is representative of Skolimowski as a filmmaker, then he's certainly one of the greats, rivalling almost anything the French or the Czechs turned out (why is Polish cinema - other than Kieslowski at his most saccharine/religious and occasionally Wajda - so underappreciated in the West?).

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#15 Post by david hare » Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:58 am

Bariera and Walkover are total masterpieces (to repeat DE) and totally compelling. You'll never look at Kieslowski the same way again. And with FAR less respect. Think about the real renegades of this period who were also supreme formalists - Bertolucci, Godard, Bellocchio (at least for the first three movies) even the American late 60s brigade like Penn Lumet Ashby, and Jerzy Skolimowski. This was a devasttingly exciting and still formally rewarding period in world cinema. And you had masters like Antonioni, Bunuel and Hitchock working in tandem through the era who were both coming into peak form while older "lesser" American masters like Huston came right back into transformative form The whole fucking period was about the rejuvenation of life through politics and social observation and moviemaking It was like watching Henry James writing his sublime late novels in real time on screen. Christ! what an era!!

Yes it's Xmas and Im drunk. And we have a totally inspiring new government and "world order/view" in Australia since last week.

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#16 Post by Barmy » Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:10 am

I saw a few of the Jerzy's at the Anthology retro and every single one of them bored the living shit out of me. God I hate zaniness when it's coupled with amateurish narcissism. Moonlighting just reeked of 80s big hair and mascara and was stupid and implausible beyond belief. Haven't seen Deep End yet but based on the description it might be good--I'll check it out later this week. But often there's a reason why obscure directors are obscure.

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#17 Post by MichaelB » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:03 am

Barmy wrote:Moonlighting just reeked of 80s big hair and mascara and was stupid and implausible beyond belief.

Did the version you saw star Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd? Because that description bears no resemblance to Skolimowski's film.

For starters, there are hardly any women in it, and the Polish workmen didn't go in for make-up and elaborate hairdos.

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#18 Post by david hare » Sun Dec 09, 2007 4:10 am

You need to see all the early movies and - very last (and NOT a fave of mine although objectively it's extremely pointed) Moonlighting again.

This - in the 60s - was a director with a huge grip on irony and intelligence. One of the beauties of Deep End (although he appears to let the mood just get loose, but he isn't, believe me) is the total stupidity of all the characters and the profound unattractiveness of the TAWDRY London milieu. It's his totally appalled reaction to Swinging London/swinging 60s. With which I am as one. On that score alone it's not merely a hoot but a great piece of barely symbolic commentary on the shitty/superficial (still) West and the decline of the East. I still love it for the conjunction of sheer seediness and thwarted desire. Which he probably shares with Bela Tarr. The contrast of a decaying West and East. Dude, welcome back and - believe me - get out to the next screnings of Walkover, Bariera and le Depart. These movies just ring out with intelligence and sardonic humor.

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#19 Post by Barmy » Sun Dec 09, 2007 3:01 pm

I did like the ending of Moonlighting, when Dave and Maddie finally got it on. Despite Cybill's big hair and mascara.

But seriously, I'm referring to the endless scenes at the grocery store checkout line, and the implausibility of Jeremy's scam. And I would have preferred more politics and less drama about home renovation. Or did the home renovation drama symbolize the Polish situation? Whatever.

Le Depart was awful--talk about "quirky". I bet Wessy Anderson would love it.

The other two I saw were his first two flix, Rysopis and Walkover, which I found to be boring and hard to follow. Not helped by the murky prints. Still, in those, some nascent skill was evident.

I skipped the screening of Bariera in order to see a 35mm print of Salo so gorgeous, brilliant and shimmering that I'm thinking of serving pupu at my next dinner party. But I digress.

Deep End is more quirk. Kudos to JS for getting Paramount to finance it. There is certainly a theme throughout the films I saw (excluding Moonlighting) of characters acting in a non-realistic way. I prefer films where the people on screen behave in a manner I can relate to. Can you really justify that interminable diamond-hunting scene? Or argue that the boy is anything other than an insufferable berk? But I can appreciate JS for his somewhat original approach. I certainly liked the ending of Deep End--I had been wanting to do the same thing throughout the film.

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#20 Post by david hare » Tue Dec 18, 2007 4:57 am

Just caught this!

Slow as all getout!

Yes the end is like Poopoo and US!!

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Deep End by Jerzy Skolimowski

#21 Post by Ingeri » Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:59 am

I recently had the opportunity to see a georgous 35mm restored print of Deep End by Jerzy Skolimowski, and would like to add it to my DVD collection, but I wonder about a "very nice quality print" "DVD-R" I found for sale online at a website that specializes in Hard To Find Films.

I've never purchased an unauthorized DVD online before, and I'm basically just wondering if I'm flushing my $19.99 down the toilet.

BTW, I thought the film had some incredibly interesting 1971 sequences of London's XXX district in it, with a wicked-cool soundtrack. The film's 15 year old main character "Mike" (played by John Moulder-Brown), has a kind of psychological duel with a naked cardboard cut-out of the other central character "Susan" (played by Jane Asher), who is the object of his obsessions. He lugs it around frantically looking for her, and ends up confronting her with it in public. Skolimowski interestingly included some born-again teenagers (Mike's contemporaries), who wander around the dive club neighborhood, trying to "save" people by singing gospel.

A swimming pool in the bath house that Susan and Mike work in, keeps reappearing throughout the film, which eventually gets emptied, and then refilled. At one point he throws her cardboard cut-out likeness into it, and we're left with an absolutely georgous shot of it/her serenly floating on her/it's back. He jumps in, and tries to swim and make love to it, which turns into her. Other underwater sequences are beautifully filmed, and throughout, Skolimowski makes great use of the color red to heighten all of the sexual tension in the story, of which there is plenty. British "blonde-bombshell" sex symbol Diana Dors has a great part in the film where she plays an over-sexed middle aged woman in the bath house, who virtually molests Mike (wonerfully "boyish" Moulder-Brown).

Great film, it's really too bad no-one's officially released it on DVD. Definitely overlooked, and worth revisiting. The only one of Skolimowski's significant films to remain locked away in relative obscurity.
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Re: Deep End by Jerzy Skolimowski

#22 Post by MichaelB » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:03 am

Ingeri wrote:The only one of Skolimowski's significant films to remain locked away in relative obscurity.

If only that were true - unless you know of a source of Skolimowski DVDs that I don't?

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Re: Deep End by Jerzy Skolimowski

#23 Post by Ingeri » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:08 am

MichaelB wrote:
Ingeri wrote:The only one of Skolimowski's significant films to remain locked away in relative obscurity.

If only that were true - unless you know of a source of Skolimowski DVDs that I don't?

Amazon

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#24 Post by MichaelB » Sat Mar 01, 2008 4:36 am

Moonlighting, The Shout and The Lightship, plus a handful of titles he acted in. Oh, and out-of-print VHSes of Hands Up and Success is the Best Revenge.

Hardly a comprehensive overview.

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#25 Post by mikeohhh » Sat Mar 01, 2008 5:17 am

I would put good money on Deep End coming from Criterion. I dunno, I just don't see Paramount going the Anthology route for a 35mm restoration of a relative obscurity like this (was this even released on VHS??). This is pure speculation on my behalf, but I have a feeling about this one.

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