A Czech Film Review by Lee Robert Adams A subtitle for this anthology of short films based on the stories of Bohumil Hrabal may as well be “The Czechoslovak New Wave in a Nutshell”, as it showcases the work of five of the movement’s then up-and-coming directorial stars: Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, Evald Schorm, Věra Chytilová and Jaromil Jireš. While the garrulous voice of the author comes through loud and clear in all segments, each director uses their tale as a framework for their burgeoning filmmaking talents. First up is Menzel … who was the only one of the five who didn’t already have a full feature under his belt, but would go on to have a rewarding long-standing collaborationContinue Reading

A Czech Film Review by Lee Robert Adams The most disturbing aspect of Karel Kachyňa’s superior paranoid thriller isn’t that the protagonists discover surveillance equipment in their house; it is that they have already made concessions in their home life in expectation that someone is listening to their conversations already. Without hiding behind metaphor or surrealism, this forceful, frightening film shows the power the communist State had over its subjects, even those in privileged positions within the regime. As a result, it was banned until after the Velvet Revolution in 1989. Shot in lucid, high-contrast black and white by Josef Illík, the story opens with a bickering married couple arriving home early after a dinner event at Prague castle withContinue Reading

A Czech Film Review by Lee Robert Adams As Ronan Keating, that perennial purveyor of pop pap, once sang: “Life is a rollercoaster, just gotta ride it” – that’s the happy-go-lucky ethos of Men in Hope‘s Rudolf (Bolek Polívka), an ageing lothario and Prague cabbie with 138 extra-marital affairs under his belt. He even had a very movie-land former career as an international rollercoaster designer, providing him ample opportunity to cheat on his wife, and gives us a handy metaphor for his attitude towards relationships. As a man who spent his life building fairground thrill rides, he knows all about the twists, turns, ups, downs and loop-the-loops that only an adulterous lifestyle can offer. Rudolf reasons that a well-timed affairContinue Reading

Sticky

Once on a family holiday, we were walking around the side streets of a small Welsh town when we stumbled upon an old bric-a-brac shop that was closed for many years. Among the dusty collection of forlorn objects in the window display sat a vintage doll with braided hair, a straw hat, and a yellowed cotton dress. Her cheeks were webbed with tiny cracks and one of her eyes was missing. With her remaining eye, she gazed out across the universe like a martyr in a medieval painting. A huge dead spider lay curled up in her lap. That image really troubled my childhood imagination, filled me with a terrible sense of nausea. It is the same feeling I gotContinue Reading