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I’ve reviewed quite a few older classics recently, so this week I decided to play Random Czech Movie Roulette with some of the newer content on Netflix. I landed on Milan Cieslar’s “romantic comedy” Špindl… Oh dear. Well, I said from the beginning that my blog would cover all Czech movies, including the bad ones, so here goes… Anna Polívková stars as Katka, a sad sack singleton in her mid-thirties (something of a recurring role for her) who hates her job and dreams of one day finding Mr Right. I feel a bit sorry for Polívková. Firstly, she is following in the footsteps of her father, Bolek Polívka, one of the greatest living Czech actors. Secondly, she keeps finding herselfContinue Reading

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Political satire can take many forms, but sometimes all that’s required is some actors, a few tables and chairs, and a patch of woodland. That’s all Jan Němec needed for A Report on the Party and the Guests, his abstract but high impact critique of life under communist rule in Czechoslovakia. It was considered scathing enough that it allegedly had Antonín Novotný, the president at the time, climbing the walls. The concept of A Report on the Party and the Guests is about as simple as it gets. A group of middle-aged, middle-class lovers are having a picnic in a peaceful glade on a hot summer’s day. There is plenty of food and drink to go around, the weather isContinue Reading

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After a lean and troubled wartime era, Walt Disney started the 50s with a trio of the studio’s most beloved films – Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan. This was the Silver Era of Disney and it lasted until Uncle Walt passed away during production of The Jungle Book in 1966. Around the same time across the Iron Curtain, Jiří Trnka, a Czech film maker referred to as the “Walt Disney of the East” was creating a stunning series of hand-crafted animated features. After an early career illustrating children’s books and learning puppetry, he made his own animated shorts at the end of WWII. His first film with stop motion puppet animation was The Czech Year (Špalíček), which detailedContinue Reading

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The nominations for the Academy Awards dropped this week, and the Best Picture category includes two of that most Oscar-baiting of movie genres: the biographical feature. Biopics often tend to be well made and impressively acted, with an air of respectability that makes them very awards-friendly. However, they are also limited by the cinematic medium itself, trying to cram the remarkable events of a complex human being’s life into the time it would take that person to… well, watch a movie. Robert Sedláček’s Jan Palach makes things a little easier for itself by narrowing the focus to the last year or so of the martyr’s life. After a brief intro set in 1952, where we see Palach as a youngContinue Reading

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This year’s IFF Prague – Febiofest, dressed in a new visual identity, will take place on 17-24 September 2021. Like last year, the Prague International Film Festival – Febiofest has been moved to the autumn of this year, instead of its traditional spring dates. The 28th edition of one of Prague’s – and the Czech Republic’s – biggest film events will be held on 17-24 September 2021 in the Slovanský dům palace in the heart of Prague, with renditions in other Czech cities to follow afterwards. The organizers have decided to move the dates in accordance with the current situation and the predictions regarding government restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. A new visual style for this year’sContinue Reading

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Sometimes a film just doesn’t grab me at all and then I’m sat looking at a blank document thinking, “I don’t know if I can be bothered to write anything about this”. It is extra frustrating when I can see the film’s qualities, but feel so neutral towards it that I struggle to muster any enthusiasm. One such film is Juráček & Schmidt’s Joseph Kilian, a paranoid short drama from the Czechoslovak New Wave. Knowing that the review is going to be a battle, I face a dilemma. Do I – a) Give up on the movie and watch something else, then maybe come back another time when a change of mood or circumstances might make it chime differently. b)Continue Reading

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Can someone’s dark secrets ever stay truly buried? That’s the question at the heart of Honeymoon, a dark psychological thriller where director Jan Hřebejk seems to takes a few cues from Lars von Trier in studied, beautifully-acted, elegantly-shot misanthropy. Much like von Trier’s Melancholia from a few years earlier, Honeymoon centres around a wedding party and a bride with her own past psychological issues. Then, much like the former film’s titular planet that ruins festivities by colliding with Earth, a wedding crasher who knows too many inconvenient secrets threatens to destroy the marriage before the ink is dry on the certificate. We meet Tereza (Anna Geislerová) and Radim (Stanislav Majer), an attractive couple on their big day, taking their vowsContinue Reading