Following their collaborations on A Novel for Women and The Holiday Makers, Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk and author Michal Viewegh reunite for Shameless, a comic romp based on Viewegh’s bestselling Tales of Marriage and Sex. Oskar is a television weatherman who has fallen out of love with his nasally endowed wife Zuzana. Undergoing a midlife crisis, he begins a series of affairs. Having begged out of the family vacation at a mountain resort, he falsifies the weather forecast – convincing his wife and son to stay sequestered from the ostensible blizzard so he can bed the family nanny, an immature blonde. Fired for his ballsy behavior, he finds work as a driver for drunk bargoers, scooting around the city on his minibike in search of work and women. But as his conquests continue, they prove to be less and less fulfilling. Take the much older singing sensation Nora, who enchants Oskar with the lilting voice that accents much of the Shameless soundtrack, then leaves him when the father of her children dies. Or the hooker who seduces Oskar in a bathtub. And as for Zuzana – she has crafted a far better relationship with a new lover, one who appreciates the size of her nose. While cameos from Czech media celebrities add to the film’s authenticity and humor, its setting in a nameless Eastern European city adds a touch of poignancy: against a nighttime background of historic architecture and twinkling lights, Oskar’s quest for sex as meaning pales.
Tag Archives: Czech
The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun / Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (1983) Vera Chytilová, Leos Sucharípa, Libuse Pospísilová, Vlasta Spicnerová, Comedy
The strains of Debussy’s “Afternoon of a Faun” waft through this amusing comedy about an aging lecher’s ever-optimistic pursuit of the fair sex, for fair sex, or better. The “faun” wakes up to a new day of happy hunting because the proof of the pudding is irrelevant, it is the joy of finding the ingredients that matters. Whether out on the streets or at his job in an office, he does not relent in his hopeful approaches to mainly young women, who mainly ignore him. No one is more aware of his skirt-chasing than an older companion in the same office who has loved him from the beginning. And the big question is, will the late-blooming Don Juan come to his senses?
The Jester’s Tale / Bláznova kronika (1964) Karel Zeman, Petr Kostka, Emília Vásáryová, Miroslav Holub, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
The Thirty Years’ War is seen from the point of view in this satirical slapstick comedy that combines engravings, old cartoons, montages, special effects, and film. The positions of both sides of the religious war are fair game for biting satirical jabs. Petr (Kastka) plays a peasant who is pressed to join one side before being captured by the enemy and mistaken for a Duke. Matej (Miloslav Holub) can change sides quickly with his reversible cloak. Lenka (Emille Vasaryova) disguises herself as a jester to avoid the conflict and gives her comments about the pompous futility on both sides of the conflict.
10 Rules / 10 pravidel jak sbalit holku (2014) Karel Janák, Jan Dolanský, Daniel Rchichev, Kristína Svarinská, Comedy, Romance
Shy student of astrophysics Marek falls in love with Stephanie, the Slovak-speaking daughter of the French attaché. As the result of an initiative by his three flatmates, his father starts advising him, although they had not been seeing each other. Being the publisher of popular bestsellers about conquering the other sex, the father compiles ten rules for his son to help him win the girl’s heart. That includes, among others, getting rid of a rival, a rich whippersnapper constantly surrounded by a host of his ex-girlfriends. Marek finally understands that what works is not horoscopes and chat-up lines, but being himself…
Cutting it Short / Postriziny (1981) Jirí Menzel, Magda Vásáryová, Jirí Schmitzer, Jaromír Hanzlík, Comedy
Short Cut is a comedy revealed more in the acting and witty dialogue than in the simple premise of the story itself: how the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal was born. Actually, the story is, in many ways, the writer’s conception. The setting is a small town where Hrabal’s father Francine (Jiri Schmitzer) is in charge of a large brewery. Both the blessing and bane of his life is his gorgeous wife Marja (Magda Vasaryova). Blessing, because she is not only beautiful but resourceful and intelligent and lively, bane because every other man would like to get to know her better. Marja saves the day more than once, and the couple are happy in their life together. When Francine’s brother arrives for a visit, an attraction starts to develop between Marja and her brother-in-law that may have upset the marriage, were it not for a fortuitous accident. Marja sprains her ankle and her husband is “forced” to take care of her – alone. Soon after, the town gets their first radio and life takes a permanent turn for a faster lane. Marja cuts her long, blonde tresses and dons a short skirt which mortifies her husband, until he learns they are going to have a baby. It is 1916 and Hrabal is on the way. The comedy will one day continue as he goes from gestation to adulthood and discovers his writing talents at the age of 48. Coupled with the Czech director Jiri Menzel, Hrabal’s comedic writing finds a kindred cinematic spirit. This film won a Jury Prize at the 1981 Venice Film Festival.
Romeo, Juliet and Darkness / Romeo, Julie a tma (1960) Jirí Weiss, Ivan Mistrík, Daniela Smutná, Jirina Sejbalová, Drama, War
Pavel, a young student living in Prague in 1942, hides a Jewish girl in his apartment building’s attic. Amidst the brutality of the occupying German army, love blossoms between the two. He is her only link to the outside world. Then the two are discovered by Pavel’s mother, who forces the residents of the apartment building to decide whether Hana can remain.
The White Lady / Bílá paní (1965) Zdenek Podskalský, Vlastimil Brodský, Rudolf Hrusínský, Milos Kopecký, Comedy, Fantasy
This castle has its own ghost – a mysterious White lady. She emerges from the painting on the wall when someone speaks out magic formula. White lady is good ghost, she can make someone’s wishes true. Even if it is a new duct. But a miracle is not the thing that Communist leaders want in the town.
How Poets Are Losing Their Illusions / Jak básníci pricházejí o iluze (1985) Dusan Klein, Pavel Kríz, David Matásek, Míla Myslíková, Comedy
How Poets Are Losing Their Illusions is a 1985 Czech comedy, the second in a series of films about a young, ideological poet, Št?pán Šafránek, who is studying to be a doctor. The film focuses on the main character’s romantic relationships but is also filled with social commentary.
A Little Piece of Heaven / Kousek nebe (2005) Petr Nikolaev, Jakub Doubrava, Tatiana Pauhofová, Petr Forman, Romance
There is no place on the world where might not find love. A love story – a fleeting encounter between two young people who met at the wrong time at the wrong place. The story takes place in the 1950s in a communist prison compound in Czechoslovakia. Luboš, the hero of the film, happens to meet Dana and he falls in love with her. Dana reciprocates his feelings and their love affair is all the more breathtaking the more impossible it becomes for it to be fulfilled in this setting. Luboš’s imprisonment is further embittered by the physical and mental torture inflicted on him by the warden who cannot forget that the young man had witnessed his humiliation. To get him out of the sight of this sadistic jailer, Luboš’s prison mates manage to get him transferred into a squad of roofers. Thanks to his friends, the boy’s prison stay becomes a little more bearable in spite of the cruelty he must suffer. Despite the horrendously limiting circumstances, the ever-present persecution and death, thanks to his fellow prisoners the lovers are able to consummate their love at least once…
This story is more than a political statement. It is primarily a love story that shows how love and youth find their own way to fulfillment, however dramatic the circumstances.
Cekání na dést / Waiting for the Rain (1978) Karel Kachyna, Jirí Bartoska, Michal Hofbauer, Monika Hálová, Drama, Romance
Twelve-year-old Alena (Dita Kaplanová) has had to leave the countryside on a blazing hot summer day and come back home to a block of flats on the outskirts of Prague. She spends most of the day on her own, amusing herself daydreaming and imagining, on the blazing hot building roof awaiting the rain. Her mother (Ladislava Kozderková) is at work all day and her friends are still away on holidays. Alena is keen on the actor Budil (Jirí Bartoska) and puts on her best clothes for him each day, running out onto the street carrying her mother’s handbag.