Tag Archives: Czech

Zabitá nedele / Squandered Sunday (1969) Drahomíra Vihanová, Irena Boleslavská, Vladislav Drazdák, Alexandra Haskovcová, Drama

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It’s Sunday morning. The church bells call people to the Mass, but the army officer Arnost is still sleeping in his austere and shabby room in the barracks. He wakes slowly, and attunes himself step by step to the world and what to do this arid Sunday. He loads his pistol and puts it to his head and in his mouth, without firing it off. While he turns around, he is now and then interrupted by short flashbacks in his memory of situations with frivolous women and much drinking, as well as some daydreams about enforced weddings. He has a relationship with three blond women. Two of them are adult. One is willowy and a bit aloof, the other voluptuous and possessive. The third is a little girl, who he likes to talk with. He goes to the gatekeeper of the barracks, and starts a chat. Through a spyglass he suddenly sees two young women sunbathing topless. As it is within the military area, he orders the gatekeeper to arrest them. The women don’t take him seriously, but he writes a report.
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Smejdi / Crooks (2013) Silvie Dymáková, Roman Vanek, Ondrej Vetchý, Documentary

Smejdi AKA Crooks (2013)
Silvie Dymáková’s raw documentary uncovers the manipulation, humiliation and pressure that exist behind the closed doors of “product demonstration excursions for seniors” in the Czech Republic. The sad heroes of her film show us the non-functional saucepans, unused vacuum cleaners, “wool” blankets and bio-lamps they bought during such excursions for tens or even hundreds of thousands of crowns… and that is the best-case scenario. In exchange for their ID cards, confiscated by sellers, many have signed loan contracts. Despite their shocking experiences, the elderly repeatedly take part in these events in a bid to escape their loneliness or because they can’t say no to the offers. Dymáková succeeded in smuggling a hidden camera into product presentations and, with a psychologist and a lawyer, analyzed the high-pressure methods employed. Even while being completed, her documentary sparked a deserved uproar when it became clear that dozens of Czech firms were abusing seniors’ …
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Cech panen kutnohorských / The Merry Wives (1939) Otakar Vávra, Zdenek Stepánek, Frantisek Kreuzmann, Adina Mandlová, Comedy

The Merry Wives (1939)
Czech filmmaker Otakar Vavra truly came into his own with his third feature, Guild of the Kutna Hora Virginas, released in the U.S. as The Merry Wives. Though the title was toned down for American consumption, the censors still found fault with the storyline, which concerns a bon vivant (Zdanek Stepanek) who fools around with all available women, especially those who are already married. The hardly exemplary protagonist manages to become a hero by exposing a nest of crooks operating in his community. Much screen time is expended upon Adina Matlova as the town trollop, who turns out to be the most likeable character in the film. Though it earned an award at the Venice Film Festival, The Merry Wives was banned in Czechoslovakia when the Nazis came to power.
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Prípad pro zacínajícího kata / Case for a Rookie Hangman (1970) Pavel Jurácek, Lubomír Kostelka, Klára Jerneková, Milena Zahrynowska, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery

Case for a Rookie Hangman (1970)
Lemuel Gulliver (Lubomír Kostelka) has had a car accident and continues his journey across the unknown countryside on foot. On the road he finds a dead rabbit dressed like a man and takes a watch from its waistcoat breast pocket. The half-ruined house that he enters reminds Lemuel of his childhood and brings up a painful memory of a dearly loved girl Markéta who was drowned years ago. Gulliver finds himself in Balnibarbi, a country where he doesn’t understand the laws and habits and so continually offends against public decency. It is a day when people are ordered to keep their mouths shut and they force their visitor to follow suit. He faces harsh interrogation and finds it difficult to explain that he is not the rabbit Oscar whose watch has been found in his possession.
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Katakomby / Catacombs (1940) Martin Fric, Vlasta Burian, Jaroslav Marvan, Cenek Slégl, Comedy

Catacombs (1940)
An older clerk Mr. Borman works in basement offices of the Land Registry which are cakke Catacombs by employees. He has a young colleague Doctor Marek, who falls in love with Nastya, a girlfriend of the Director Krystof. Marek is visited by his friend Rudik, who is arranged to marry Irene, a daughter of the Director. They meet at Catacombs without knowing each other, so Irene thinks he is some ordinary clerk, even though she likes him. At the firm party they meet again and Irene find out, who is the one she supposed to marry. She changes her mind and agrees with the marriage, which she refused before. Because there are not enough men for a dance at the party, even clerks from catacombs are invited. The President of company is used to play whist at the party but there is missing one man for a game. Thus they invite Mr. Borman who is a very good player. Although he is told to let the President win, he completely beats him and moreover he frankly tells him how bad player he is.
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Siréna / The Strike (1947) Karel Steklý, Josef Bek, L. Bohác, Josef Dekoj, Drama

Sirena (Karel Stekly, 1947)
The first Czechoslovak film to receive the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, The Strike is a cornerstone example of political agitprop. Set amidst a worker’s strike in late-nineteenth-century Kladno (the main coal-mining region of the country), the film lays down the battle lines early with its portrait of hardscrabble miners, determined wives, jackbooted military oppressors, and the dandified Germanic elite who control them all. (Made immediately after the war, the film also highlights Czech nationalism in the face of German rule.) Fortunately the film is no mirthless diatribe, but full of verve and a remarkable black-coal realism; Karel Steklý’s direction benefits from the noirish black and white photography of Jaroslav Tuzar, which captures the miners’ underworld realm and their nighttime union gatherings along with the remarkable landscape of the region. The Strike became the model for countless generic retreads in the ensuing restrictive years.
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Shameless / Nestyda (2008) Jan Hrebejk, Jirí Machácek, Simona Babcáková, Pavel Liska, Comedy

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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.
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The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun / Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne (1983) Vera Chytilová, Leos Sucharípa, Libuse Pospísilová, Vlasta Spicnerová, Comedy

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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?
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The Jester’s Tale / Bláznova kronika (1964) Karel Zeman, Petr Kostka, Emília Vásáryová, Miroslav Holub, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

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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.
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10 Rules / 10 pravidel jak sbalit holku (2014) Karel Janák, Jan Dolanský, Daniel Rchichev, Kristína Svarinská, Comedy, Romance

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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…
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Cutting it Short / Postriziny (1981) Jirí Menzel, Magda Vásáryová, Jirí Schmitzer, Jaromír Hanzlík, Comedy

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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.
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