It is currently Wed Oct 01, 2014 10:33 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 127 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:21 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:39 pm
Location: Uffa!
Eclipse Series 32: Pearls of the Czech New Wave

Image

Of all the cinematic New Waves that broke over the world in the 1960s, the one in Czechoslovakia was among the most fruitful, fascinating, and radical. With a wicked sense of humor and a healthy streak of surrealism, a group of fearless directors—including eventual Oscar winners Miloš Forman and Ján Kadár—began to use film to speak out about the hypocrisy and absurdity of the Communist state. A defining work was the 1966 omnibus film Pearls of the Deep, which introduced five of the movement’s greatest voices: Věra Chytilová, Jaromil Jireš, Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, and Evald Schorm. This series presents that title, along with five other crucial works that followed close on its heels, one from each of those filmmakers—some dazzlingly experimental, some arrestingly realistic, all singular expressions from a remarkable time and place.

Collector’s set includes

Pearls of the Deep

Image

A manifesto of sorts for the Czech New Wave, this five-part anthology shows off the breadth of expression offered by the movement’s versatile directors. All based on stories by the legendary writer Bohumil Hrabal, the shorts range from surreally chilling to caustically observant to casually romantic, but all have a cutting, wily view of the world.

Daisies

Image

Perhaps the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Věra Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the slapstick misadventures of two brash young women, known only as Marie I and Marie II. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they decide to spoil themselves as well, and embark on a series of disorderly, prankish escapades in which nothing—food, clothes, men, war—is sacred. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.

A Report on the Party and Guests

Image

In Jan Němec’s surreal fable, the weekend countryside frolic of an ordinary group of men and women is rudely transformed into a lesson in political hierarchy when a handful of mysterious authority figures show up and begin to control their actions. This allegory about oppression and conformity was banned in its home country but became an international success after it premiered at the New York Film Festival.

Return of the Prodigal Son

Image

Evald Schorm was one of the most outspokenly political of the movement’s filmmakers. This raw psychological drama about an engineer unable to adjust to the world around him following a suicide attempt is at heart a scathing portrait of social alienation and moral compromise.

Capricious Summer

Image

Two years after his worldwide hit Closely Watched Trains, Jiří Menzel directed this funny and reflective idyll about three middle-aged bourgeois men whose carefree summer, occupied by little more than fishing, drinking, and eating, is interrupted by the arrival of young traveling circus performers. Especially distracting is the beautiful magician’s assistant, Anna. A meditation on aging and sex, shot in warm, sun-dappled color, Capricious Summer is one of the New Wave’s loveliest reveries.

The Joke

Image

Jaromil Jireš’s brilliantly fragmentary adaptation of Milan Kundera’s novel jumps between the past and present to tell the Kafkaesque tale of Ludvik, a scientist who, in the 1950s, was expelled from the Communist Party when the authorities intercepted a postcard from him to his girlfriend that he’d intended as a political joke. After being sent for “rehabilitation” to the mines and doing a stint in a military prison, Ludvik hatches a revenge plot against the former friend who betrayed him. Completed after the Soviet invasion that ended the Prague Spring, The Joke was banned, though it’s now acknowledged as one of the movement’s greatest works.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:26 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:35 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Czech it out!

Eagerly awaiting MichaelB capsules on these!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 6:32 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
I really like their decision to double up two shorter feature films per disc here. The lower price makes it much easier to accept that a couple of these are double/triple dips for me, and I'm more than happy to see Criterion take older Facets titles and do them right for R1. The Second Run disc of Daisies is of course well worth owning even for someone planning to get this set, as the former includes the nearly-hour-long documentary on Chytilová.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:40 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 3:47 pm
This is easily the most exciting release of April for me as the Czech filmmakers have a special place in my heart. I have been to the Czech republic many times beginning all the way back when it was still behind the Iron Curtain, and as a high school student I was lucky and stumbled by accident on the set of Amadeus when Foreman was filming in Prague. Seeing several scenes of it being filmed live made a big impression on me and clearly made me fall in love with movies even more - come to think of it, it was the first time I ever saw a live film set.

From that point onwards I really started paying attention to Czech filmmakers, but even in Europe it was difficult to find a lot of their works in Home Video presentation for some time.

So I'm very much looking forward to revisiting some of their works in this Eclipse set, which no matter what shape the material is in, will be much better than what I used to see. \:D/


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:41 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:58 pm
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Is "Daisies" the only Second Run DVD overlap?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:43 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:35 pm
No, Party and the Guests is also a Second Run release.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 7:51 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 10:09 am
Wonderful, by far the best release from CC so far this year. Typically they stashed these important films away onto Eclipse, though... Well, good to have them, anyway. The two overlaps with Second Run are regrettable, because certainly the Second Run booklets provide some extra value missing here. But as I don't have any of the films, this set is a no-brainer for me.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:06 pm 
Dot Com Dom
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 2:42 pm
Party and the Guests has a very informative and useful video interview as well


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:11 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:35 pm
An obvious no brainer, but I'm still not getting rid of my Second Runs - their essays are easily superior to Criterion booklets, let alone Eclipse liner notes. And Daisies still has Blaževič's documentary on Chytilová.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:27 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
All of these have previous English-language releases (if you count the Facets; I was fortunate enough to see two of those on 35mm) except for the Evald Schorm. That's the only one in the set I haven't seen, and I can't wait.

Capricious Summer and some of the segments in Pearls of the Deep may be merely good, but the others in the set (especially The Joke) are all major films. Impressed that Criterion has committed to such a big release -- this is at least tied for the largest number of features in an Eclipse set, yes?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Location: sd, ca
No, the Malle documentary set has more.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:37 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:07 pm
Only if you count a 19-minute film as a feature. Otherwise, they're tied with six.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:45 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Location: sd, ca
I think the length of Phantom India balances it out, but to really cut this short 716 mins v. 513 mins.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2012 11:18 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:58 pm
Location: Paris, Texas
Amazing set!

Finally, more Czech new wave films in the collection.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 12:30 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Atlanta-ish
Oh. fuck. yes. \:D/

Buying multiple copies on day 1. I literally cannot wait for this set.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:37 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:56 am
Unfortunately, you will "literally" have to wait. Unless...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 6:23 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
It's a fabulous set - if you're a newcomer to the Czechoslovak New Wave, it's an obvious blind buy, and the prospect of superior transfers of Capricious Summer (the Czech release is very watchable but obviously analogue-sourced) and The Joke (the Facets transfer is so sloppy that you can see someone adjusting the video tracking during the opening credits!) means that I'll probably buy it myself even though I already have everything aside from the Schorm.

I do have one minor disappointment, though - I can see that the set is conceptually structured around one short and one feature per director (the shorts making up Pearls of the Deep), but this means that the Eclipse edition of Pearls will be inferior to the Czech release, since that included all seven films that were made for the project - and the Ivan Passer and Juraj Herz contributions certainly weren't also-rans. (On the contrary, they were the two films judged strong enough to release separately!). And, as has already been pointed out, the Second Run The Party and the Guests and Daisies have some very strong extras (full disclosure: I wrote the former's booklet, but there's a good Peter Hames video piece on there too), so they're by no means redundant - though the Facets releases of Daisies, The Joke and Pearls of the Deep might as well be withdrawn and destroyed now. Or alternatively used as training DVDs to illustrate just how it's possible to get everything wrong, right down to the painfully out-of-synch subtitles (Daisies is OK, but the other two are borderline unwatchable).

Otherwise, though, an amazing collection - and a wonderfully wide-ranging one, too. It offers allegorical political satire (The Party and the Guests) a depiction of life under Communism (The Joke), an intense psychological study (Return of the Prodigal Son), a lyrical Renoiresque comedy (Capricious Summer, for me the set's masterpiece and arguably Menzel's too) and feminist avant-garde experimentalism (Daisies) - plus five Bohumil Hrabal adaptations, and he's the author that you really need to get to grips with to understand the guiding spirit of the New Wave.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:32 am 

Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:49 pm
jonah.77 wrote:
Unfortunately, you will "literally" have to wait. Unless...

He meant literally figuratively.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:27 am 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Aug 12, 2006 9:22 am
Location: Atlanta-ish
MichaelB wrote:
And, as has already been pointed out, the Second Run The Party and the Guests and Daisies have some very strong extras (full disclosure: I wrote the former's booklet, but there's a good Peter Hames video piece on there too), so they're by no means redundant - though the Facets releases of Daisies, The Joke and Pearls of the Deep might as well be withdrawn and destroyed now. Or alternatively used as training DVDs to illustrate just how it's possible to get everything wrong, right down to the painfully out-of-synch subtitles (Daisies is OK, but the other two are borderline unwatchable).

Indeed. I'm definitely keeping my Second Run editions of Daisies and Party..., but I recently moved to a university that is a long way off from having the money to buy a region-free dvd player, let alone adequate classroom technology (another instance of higher ed getting utterly shafted in this economic climate), so once these editions come out, I can finally screen the aforementioned films to my students again.

The Facets' editions should not only be destroyed; every trace of their existence should be expunged from the historical record. Actually, I withdraw that statement (a little bit): the Facets Daisies has as an extra the letter Chytilova wrote defending her film after it was banned. The Joke, however, is easily the worst dvd I have ever seen. The subs scrolled across the screen from left to right, the timing was way off, etc.

I'm a little disappointed that Capricious Summer was shunted off into the Eclipse line, but its presence likely adds a certain cachet to the rest of the set. It sure would be lovely, however, for Criterion to do some mainline releases beyond Marketa Lazarova.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 11:23 am 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
I suppose I can always dream of a Criterion Blu-ray of Ivan Passer's Intimate Lighting. The fact that Miloš Forman and Krzysztof Kieślowski both put it in their top tens must count for something - and Passer's Pearls short A Boring Afternoon would be an obvious extra. In fact, I think those are his only Czech films.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 3:24 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Location: sd, ca
Could I get clarification on this, but if I understand correctly Passer and Herz made shorts for the film that were cut out and released as their own thing because they were felt strong enough and you're suggesting that pairing those shorts with any feature of theirs? Is some connection between the features and the shorts?


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:42 pm
I thought Daisies and Pearls of the Deep were both amazing, so I'm looking forward to the rest of this set. It's nice to see Czech new wave titles being rescued from the black maw of Facets.

Also, Daisies seems to a very small cult film (in the US at least). I've met a couple of fans of the film that don't even know what the Czech new wave is.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:14 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 6:20 pm
Location: Worthing
knives wrote:
Could I get clarification on this, but if I understand correctly Passer and Herz made shorts for the film that were cut out and released as their own thing because they were felt strong enough and you're suggesting that pairing those shorts with any feature of theirs? Is some connection between the features and the shorts?

No - the concept behind the box is that Pearls of the Deep consists of five short films (all Bohumil Hrabal adaptations) by five directors, accompanied by what in most cases was the first major feature that each director made afterwards (with Capricious Summer presumably chosen for Jiří Menzel because Closely Watched Trains was already in Criterion's main collection. There's no connection between the Pearls shorts and the features other than their directors.

Which is why, sadly, it's logical to omit the Passer and Herz shorts from this compilation, even though they're included on the (unsubtitled) Czech edition of Pearls. Great though it would have been, I think throwing in another two features (Intimate Lighting and... I'm not sure what would fit for Herz, as Criterion doesn't have the rights to The Cremator: Oil Lamps, perhaps?) might have been a little too generous given that this is already an exceptionally generous package.

But if Criterion is minded to do Intimate Lighting, the short A Boring Afternoon would be a perfect companion-piece: the deceptively lackadaisical tone is common to both.

Thomas Dukenfield wrote:
Also, Daisies seems to a very small cult film (in the US at least). I've met a couple of fans of the film that don't even know what the Czech new wave is.

It's not that well known even in Europe. Before Second Run started releasing Czech New Wave titles and Peter Hames published the second (2005) edition of his definitive English-language book, there'd been very little interest in Britain since an unexpectedly generous Czech season on BBC2 in 1990, shortly after the Velvet Revolution. (That's when I saw Daisies and two or three other films in this set for the first time).

Mind you, the Czech New Wave is far more famous than its Hungarian counterpart - again, Second Run is leading the way here, with their Miklós Jancsó titles, Apa and Szindbád, but there's a lot more where they came from, many of them scandalously little-known outside Hungary. I'd love to have a decent copy of Ferenc Koza's Ten Thousand Suns (or a copy in any quality, come to that) - anyone who thinks that resplendent widescreen compositions with hundreds of men and horses was exclusively a Jancsó trademark should get a load of the images here. (They were shot by Szindbád's Sándor Sára, with all that that implies).


Last edited by MichaelB on Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:19 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2008 6:49 pm
Location: sd, ca
That would be neat. Now you've got me holding out for releases for both directors.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 4:38 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK
knives wrote:
That would be neat. Now you've got me holding out for releases for both directors.

If you can't wait, Second Run still have Intimate Lighting (and The Cremator) available on DVD, though without the shorts.

As Michael says, Closely Observed Trains would have seemed the obvious choice for Menzel especially since that is also based on the work of Bohumil Hrabal. Though I am quite glad that the more celebrated film having previously been released allowed for Capricious Summer to be added. That and Return of the Prodigal Son sound especially interesting!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 127 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group




This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection