Contemporary Czech cinema pisses me off!

I dig movies. Lately I‚??ve been watching at least one DVD a night, sometimes two, followed by a movie on Czech TV. It‚??s simply that kind of weather. And considering the insane quantity of smog that we get out here in Blackbridge, I‚??m not exactly jonesing for a night out in downtown Prague.

Now, I really want to like contemporary Czech movies. But these days, whenever I rent them, they either put me to sleep or piss me off. Most of the time they piss me off.

Ok, they don‚??t exactly piss me off, but the films that the Czechs have been making over the last few years have been disappointing ‚?? at least the ones I‚??ve seen. Here‚??s why: phenomenal acting talents and camera work and dialogue are shot to hell by crap stories, most of which incorporate the socialist era either directly (in films set in the era) or indirectly (most often depicted through a conflict between generations). Of course, that is when the film is not set in, or referring to, the Nazi occupation.

Perhaps it‚??s rather arrogant of me to say this, but this socialism complex is making for a very tired plot device. And a bunch of crazy shit that happens to people does not a movie make (that applies to a number of American movies as well). That‚??s not to say that this, for a lack of a better term, freestyle way of film-making is not without its merits. However, the way Czech filmmakers have been doing this feels like they‚??re being weird for the sake of being weird.

In my opinion, the only contemporary Czech movie that stands up to repeated screenings is Samotari. Every aspect of the movie works in harmony with the others ‚?? soundtrack, acting, dialogue, direction‚?? everything.

Then there‚??s Wrong Way Up ‚?? Pribehy obycejneho silenstvi ‚?? actual translation Tales of Ordinary Madness, not to be confused with Charles Bukowski’s collection of short stories of the same name. Though some parts of the movie seem like they could have been lifted from a Bukowski story.

I tell you, this movie really pissed me off. I mean really got me fuming to the point where Jitka had to tell me to shut up. Why? Because I felt cheated. Everything was great (with the exception of a blatant Graduate rip-off ‚?? if not a rip-off then at least a clumsy homage), even the story, right up until the end. I can‚??t say any more about the conclusion without spoiling it (and if you‚??re going to comment on this entry, please extend the same courtesy ‚?? I will delete spoilers) except the way the movie ended prompted me to react the same way I did to my last meal at Pizza West.

In fairness to the latest Czech movies, I admit that I am basing my opinion on a handful of flicks. And the potential is there. Maybe I’m just not watching the right films. I would like to write a more thorough, less off-the-cuff critique (i.e. “rant”) on the subject, so I will try to commit myself to renting more Czech DVD‚??s ‚?? as of tomorrow. Tonight we‚??ve got The Transporter to look forward to.

Feb 4, 07:00 (Filed under: Culture, Personal )

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  1. Samotari is great. I am surprised that didn’t get more international recognition.

    dantravels    Feb 4, 10:44    #
  2. Thanks for the comment, Dan. Czech flicks that get recognition outside of the CR tend to be dramas and tear-jerkers – like Kolja and Zelary. When I first moved to Brno in 1996, many of my new friends complained that Sverak sold out with Kolja, that the flick was not a Czech movie, but a movie made for the Oscars. One friend went so far as to say that Septej should have been up for an Oscar instead of Kolja. Can’t say I agree (Septej has not aged well at all, IMO), but at least Septej has no traces of the socialist complex that I referred to.

    Patrick    Feb 4, 12:10    #
  3. The Transporter sequel is better than the first one, if you can get your hands on it.

    Jeff    Feb 4, 16:05    #
  4. So I’ve heard. Jitka and I laughed our asses off watching the first one last night. The dialogue’s lame, the plot is ridiculous, and in spite of the bondage & submission action going on with the hot Asian female lead, The Transporter is gayer than Benetton’s men’s spring collection.

    But the sick ‘n’ stoopid stunts more than make up for that. They’re so insane and unbelievable that you can’t help laughing.

    Snagged from IMDb’s trivia section for the Transporter

    The trailer for the film showed [Jason] Statham deflecting a missile with a tea tray. In the same scene in the film, the assault on Frank’s house, there is no sign of this in the released version. It was taken out at Statham’s request because he didn’t think audiences would believe it.

    Well, the film expects its audiences not just to suspend their disbelief, but to chuck it right out the window of a souped-up nitro-propelled BMW 735. Considering all of the film’s fantastic over-the-top stunts, I certainly wouldn’t have questioned a missle off a tea-tray – especially in the scene it was pulled from (which had me laughing so hard in disbelief that I was crying).

    Anyway, very entertaining flick. Unfortunately, the sequel hasn’t hit the shelves at the local rental place, so we’ll have to settle for Kung Fu Hustle instead – along with something Czech, of course.

    Patrick    Feb 4, 20:23    #