DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Vera Chytilová Day

 

‘Věra Chytilová (1929-2014) was the first woman to study film directing at FAMU, the Film Academy in Prague, and went on to become an important member of the 1960s Czech New Wave. As a female film director, she introduced new approaches into Czechoslovak cinema, quite unusually for the times, giving voice to the views and experiences of women.

‘The 1960s in Czechoslovakia were an era of gradual liberalization, which eventually culminated in the media orgy of freedom during the 1968 Prague Spring, which was then stopped by the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968. While there were still some residual, weakening aspects of Stalinist practice, Chytilová’s fellow students at the Film Academy in Prague testify that the atmosphere at the Film Academy was starting to be very liberal in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

‘Chytilová began studying at the Prague Film Academy in 1957. Students were able to view modern classical films from Western Europe and use them as their inspiration. The Czech New Wave filmmakers including Chytilová were undoubtedly informed by the French cinema vérité approach, but their work was primarily influenced by their own personal experiences of living under the regime of post-Stalinism, in the stagnant era of 1950s Czechoslovakia following Stalin’s death. As a result of these experiences, the Czech New Wave filmmakers aimed to show that the prevailing official ideological discourse was mendacious. They did this by giving emphasis to authenticity. They paid attention to ordinary, unpretentious, casual aspects of everyday life. They also practiced formal experimentation.

‘Věra Chytilová made films in three different eras: in the liberal 1960s, in the post-invasion “normalization” regime of the 1970s and 1980s and in post-communism after 1989. Undoubtedly, the liberal 1960s were the most fruitful period for her. During this period, she made several highly innovative and experimental films which are primarily in the center of attention of international scholars. It was much more difficult for Chytilová to communicate her message through her films in the two later periods.

‘Chytilová’s film Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966) is the most frequently praised and analyzed part of her work. The film is an experimental portrait of two young women, Marie I and Marie II, who decide that “the world is spoiled”, and so they will also be spoiled and destructive. But they behave like puppets and their acts of destruction are fairly innocent and infantile, mostly concentrating on destroying food. There are a few sequences in the film which mock lewd behavior of older men towards young women. Many Western commentators have seen Daisies and other work by Věra Chytilová from the 1960s as feminist, but Chytilová rejected that characterization. Nevertheless, it has to be emphasized that the female gaze is omnipresent in her work from the 1960s: perhaps unlike anyone else, Chytilová allowed women to speak and to express their view of the world and its male domination. This does not mean, as she would point out, that she has not been fiercely critical of the behavior of many of the women her films portray.

Daisies and especially Chytilová’s highly experimental film Fruit of Paradise (Ovoce stromů rajských jíme, 1969) were the result of the director’s collaboration with two innovative collaborators, her husband, cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, whose background was in fine art and whose contribution to the visual creativity of Chytilová’s films was absolute, and script-writer and designer Ester Krumbachová, whose creativity and intelligence provided a theoretical background to Chytilová’s feature films from this period. Fruit of Paradise is a parody of a thriller, but it is pregnant with highly metaphorical meaning on many levels. The metaphorical meaning is communicated by means of visual experimentation which provides sophisticated links between the film’s motifs and themes.

‘In the 1960s, as in the other two productive periods, Chytilová also made a number of significant documentaries, or “pseudo-documentaries”. She was praised for having created the genre of “sociological film” in Czechoslovakia, i.e. documentary filmmaking with a strong interest in social issues. Chytilová’s films such as Ceiling (Strop, 1961), depicting an ordinary day in the life of a young girl ogled by men, A bagful of fleas (Pytel blech, 1962), featuring the behavior and the views of a group of female apprentices – textile workers – living in a dormitory, and Something Different (O něčem jiném, 1963), which contrasted the futility of the life of a housewife with the futility of the life of a top gymnast, are all “pseudo-documentaries” – they were carefully scripted and acted out after Chytilová’s meticulous sociological research on their subject matters.

‘The period after the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968, which ended the liberal era of the 1960s, was a catastrophe for Chytilová. Just as many other liberal filmmakers of the 1960s, she was banned from filmmaking for seven years, only being able to occasionally make television commercials under her married name Kučerová – as a film director, she had been turned into a non-person. She also lost her two most stimulating collaborators: she divorced her husband and cinematographer Jaroslav Kučera, while Ester Krumbachová, her intellectual source of inspiration, was “banned forever” by the regime. It was not until 1976 that Chytilová was allowed to make another feature film – The Apple Game (Hra o jablko) – though its premiere was threatened: Chytilová was told that the film would not be released if she did not participate in a gathering condemning the human rights manifesto Charter 77 and its signatories.

‘It was much more complicated to make films in the post-invasion period of the 1970s and 1980s than it used to be in the liberal 1960s. The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was fully aware in the 1970s that it was free intellectual debate which almost caused Czechoslovakia to leave the Eastern European Bloc in the 1960s, and so it made sure that space for creativity and independent thought was extremely limited in the 1970s and 1980s. The Czechoslovaks were supposed to conform, not to think, and for this they were rewarded with mild consumerism. Experimentation with style and ideas was now practically impossible. Under the circumstances, it was a bit of a miracle that Chytilová managed to keep a degree of independence even in her films made in the late 1970s and in the 1980s.

‘That said, regrettably, Chytilová was never again able to return to her visual and stylistic experimentation of the 1960s. Her films from the 1970s and 1980s occasionally include short inter-textual sequences which briefly remind viewers of her earlier style, but on the whole, she now needed to concentrate on her message, which was communicated in a much more conventional visual style.

‘Nevertheless, Chytilová did retain her active civic attitude, never giving up her fight for public morals. Elements of feminism are present in The Apple Game decades before the #MeToo movement. The Apple Game is a critical portrait of a philandering gynecologist who becomes a symbol of the overwhelming individualistic consumerism of the 1970s and 1980s. Chytilová draws a highly critical portrait of a selfish, self-obsessed and sexually promiscuous man who assumes no responsibility for the impact of his actions. The allegedly “socialist” society is portrayed in this film as remarkably class ridden and conservative.

‘In Panelstory (1979) Chytilová reverted, up to a point, to her earlier technique of creating “pseudo-documentaries” by producing a study of life on a partially-built Prague high-rise housing estate. In a series of episodic, mosaic-like scenes, Chytilová convincingly captures the atmosphere and ethos of the post-invasion 1970s and 1980s in Czechoslovakia. People are aggressive, women are hysterical, and men are brutal. Chytilová notes that people have lost their capacity for compassion. Paradoxically, this type of behavior further developed after the fall of communism in the fundamentalist strand of capitalism after 1989.

‘In Emergency (Kalamita, 1981) Chytilová continues criticizing greed, selfishness and cynicism of Czechoslovak society of the 1970s and 1980s. The film is a story of a young man who leaves university without graduating because he feels he wants to achieve something meaningful in “real life”. He becomes a train engine driver on a branch line in the mountains, but he cannot really achieve anything due to the extreme levels of self-obsession and selfishness of all the people around him. His final train drive ends in a calamity when the train is buried in an avalanche. This is a metaphorical warning by Chytilová who argues that when people in a society are obsessed with their own individual needs, they lose their ability to act together to mitigate the impact of shared problems – the result is a catastrophe.

‘One of Chytilová’s major themes is the relentless passage of time. Since our lives are trickling irrevocably through our fingers, Chytilová asks anxiously whether we have used our time wisely and efficiently for the good of our community. She strongly warns against futility. This issue returns in her feature film The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun (Faunovo velmi pozdní odpoledne, 1983), an extremely scathing portrait of an aging bachelor who is foolishly trying to fight against the advance of old age by manically courting young girls. The film again warns against senseless consumerism and selfishness. Similar themes can be found in A Hoof Here, a Hoof There aka Tainted Horseplay (Kopytem sem, kopytem tam, 1987), a film that records a very strong sense of decomposition in the stagnant post-invasion regime of Czechoslovakia a mere two years before its final collapse. The most characteristic features of this film are again meaninglessness, consumerism and hedonism. The film features a group of young people who systematically indulge in sex with one another because there is nothing else to do in a society which has lost its purpose. Inevitably, they end up being infected with HIV/AIDS.

‘The post-communist period was, it would seem, the greatest challenge for Chytilová. Paradoxically, although she was ostracized and censored in the post-invasion era of the 1970s and 1980s, she managed to make seven feature films in the thirteen years between 1976 and 1989; in the period of freedom after the fall of communism, in the twenty-five years from 1989 until her death in 2014, she was able to make only four feature films.

‘State-owned Czechoslovak cinema was privatized after the fall of communism, despite protests by many famous Czech filmmakers of the 1960s, including Chytilová herself. Political oppression was gone, but commercial pressures immediately arose. What is more, Chytilová remained a highly critical commentator with regard to what was happening in the post-communist era and this did not go down particularly well, especially in the first years after the collapse of communism when everyone was expected to applaud the new “capitalist” regime. Chytilová did not do so.

‘Věra Chytilová’s last ever made feature film, Pleasant Moments (Hezké chvilky bez záruky, 2006) is again a scathing criticism of life in post-communist Czech Republic, this time concentrating on personal relationships. Chytilová collaborated with the psychologist Kateřina Irmanovová on the script, the film being a semi-autobiographical account of the psychologist’s experience. In the film, a psychologist passively records information about the file of her obsessive and extremely selfish patients.

‘By making this film, Chytilová complains that the foundations of contemporary Czech society have been destroyed, possibly irreparably. The reason is the deplorable state of human relations. People are almost obsessively selfish in their behavior: they indulge their own interests exclusively, they are incapable of empathy and their narcissism prevents them from seeing the world normally, which often makes them behave like madmen. This is the main message of this frenetic farce.

‘Věra Chytilová was one of the most courageous and inventive Czechoslovak film directors. In the 1960s, she was able to avail herself of the fertile environment of this highly creative era to make an important contribution to the history of world cinema, both in terms of her stylistic and thematic innovation. It was much more difficult to continue working as a filmmaker in the oppressive atmosphere of the 1970s and 1980s as well as in the new, commercial environment after the fall of communism. This meant that Chytilová had to give up most of her formal experimentation, but she never gave up her civic responsibility. A profound, critical engagement with the most salient features of the times has remained the characteristic feature of all her cinematographic output.’ — Jan Čulik

 

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Stills
































































 

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Further

Vera Chytilová @ IMDb
Interview with Vera Chytilova (1994)
A Courageous Voice from Central Europe
The Anarchic Cinema of Věra Chytilová
Summer with Věra Chytilová
Vera Chytilová for beginners
Vera Chytilová obituary
J. HOBERMAN ON VERA CHYTILOVÁ’S SEDMIKRÁSKY (DAISIES)
VC @ MUBI
VC @ The Criterion Channel
The films of Věra Chytilová
Review: Daisies by Vera Chytilova
Véra Chytilova, cinéaste rebelle, est morte
“IT’S STILL REVOLUTIONARY”
“I want to work”
Watch ‘Daisies” on Kanopy
The dA-Zed guide to Věra Chytilová
PETER HAMES ON VERA CHYTILOVÁ
A Czech Filmmaker Who Portrayed Eastern Bloc Life Through Women’s Eyes
In praise of Daisies
Věra Chytilová and the Czechoslovak New Wave
Czech New Wave Cinema and Věra Chytilová

 

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Extras


Vera Chytilová – São Paulo


Vera Chytilova Interview


Trailer: Journey: A portrait of Vera Chytilová


Philippe Katerine à propos de “Les Petites marguerites” de Věra Chytilová

 

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Interview

 

Vera, how do you feel about having a retrospective in London?

Vera Chytilova: It’s not just in London; it’s in the United Kingdom. It feels quite normal as I have retrospectives all over the world.

Why has it taken so long for Prague to be featured in a season like this, considering there have been so many films about or set in Prague?

VC: It took London that long to make it happen.

Even though you started making films in the 50’s, most people remember your first success as being Daisies. What are your recollections of the film, particularly it being well received?

VC: Daisies as well as most of my other films was made despite the protests of the authorities. We were trying for almost half of the year to get the permission to shoot this film, so eventually they let us do it.

Were there any influences in the making of Daisies, particularly in the formal approach?

VC: In the Cinematography, Daisies is not comparable with anything else. This film was created with thanks to, and because of, our team, which was in fact ideal. The camera was done by my husband (Jaroslav Kucera), and the artistic design was done by Esther Krumbochova. This film was my first project in colour and we wanted the colour to have its function, not really a description. The authorities were under the impression that it was a film about the Czech youth. What we wanted to make was an existential film and to use it as a protest against the destruction of the country. What was interesting was that the western part of the world perceived this film as being against all conventions. So it’s clear that it depends from what angle you perceive the film. So from one point you can see the things as liberating. We thought that the creativity as well as destruction was two sides of the same coin because people who are not capable of creation get their kicks from destruction. And at the same time there was some kind of protestations against the political rehabilitations that took place at the time the film was made, which is present in the film’s final scene. The film was laughing at them, ridiculing them, and I think they understood that. Therefore, the film wasn’t shown in Cinemas.

Aside from the political perceptions, were the Surrealists or animators an influence on you?

VC: Definitely there was an influence in the direction of the actors from puppets. It was highly, highly stylized in order to create a psychological approach to acting. But as part of that they were perceived on a psychological level. It’s very difficult to make the viewer accept the idea of the form and not be taken by the story.

Your next film The Fruit Of Paradise mixes allegory with the avant-garde, and also Ester Krumbochova was involved in the making of the film. Her presence in the mise-en-scene was very evident. What was it like working with her?

VC: Because of Daisies the western producer who wanted to make the film approached me. The whole creative team was approached. We wanted to try and do as much as possible with the film language. Because at the time we were occupied by the Soviet army, we had to use allegory about love, brotherhood and friendship.

In the mid-70’s you made The Apple Game and you (Dasha Blahova) were involved as well. What are your recollections of this film and working with Vera?

Dasha Blahova: The Apple Game was her (Vera’s) first film in a long time. It was actually the first film she was able to shoot. This film was actually quite a rocket in our country.

VC: It was a huge success in the cinema and, because of that huge success, it created some sort of a scandal because at the same time the Czech Cinematography was claiming that there was a crisis in attendances in the cinemas, and suddenly this came along and people went to see it even in the mornings, which was something very unusual at this time.

DB: This film wasn’t allegory but they saw it as allegory, the system you see. It took a while for it to be accepted by the authorities.

Had that paradox, that it did very well, make people also feel uncomfortable?

DB: No, there were all sorts of fors and againsts – there was births, hospitals, that it was something new for a Communist system, people who shouldn’t really be seeing things like that, like a naked body. Whatever excuse it was, it was.

VC: They did not let the film show for half a year as my Communist colleague marked the film as pornography. Also the depiction of giving birth was considered unsuitable. So, they initiated a query which was actually a question asked afterwards by the Soviet Embassy: ‘How is it possible that in the Czech Republic, these films are being made which are not suitable, or cannot be seen because it’s unsuitable for watching by the Soviet audiences?’

DB: By the way, the film was being shown and getting praises outside of the Czech Republic before it was being shown there. It got awards in Chicago, the Soviet Union, etc., a year before it was shown in our country.

Bringing us to tonight’s film, Prague: Restless Heart of Europe, it was a series of films on European cultural cities, how honoured did you feel to be asked to make the film on behalf of Prague?

VC: They did not address me, they addressed Jiri Menzel and Menzel was not able to do it, so he asked me to do it. So I said yes, but the Italian Producer who actually ordered this film to be made, had to agree with it. They agree with this, but after the film was made they put on the credits that the film was made by Jiri Menzel. Since then I have been to court with the Italian Producers and that Court Case still hasn’t finished. It hasn’t happened before, but you send your film abroad and they do different credits, and you can’t do anything about that. We approach the European Association of Filmmakers to help us with this case and nothing really could have been done about that. Italians are not possible to be killed. What was more complicated was that the whole series was meant to have been an exchange, so they would have to withdraw the copies and change all of the subtitles, the credits, and that obviously was bad, so now you have an opportunity to correct that…it’s true because even now, when I was looking at the web pages and the credits, many still have the film as being shot by Menzel. I have just found out that here (this festival) we are going to show the film with no credits at all, so I am not happy about it, I am enraged. Because now you are in partnership with those criminals (laughs). And if you are happy about this, you are an immoral person.

 

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14 of Vera Chytilová’s 30 films

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Ceiling (1962)
‘Věra Chytilová’s Ceiling both presages this unique director’s later masterpieces and is a fascinating, fully formed, quite remarkable and unique film in its own right. Gaining unusual international and critical attention for a student production at the time of release, the 42-minute film – which Chytilová wrote and directed as her graduation project at the Prague Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts – suffers none of the tentativeness of form, conceptual terrain, and authorial style that often plagues such ‘apprentice’ works. Instead, Ceiling is soaked through with what we would come to know and celebrate particularly in Daisies (Sedmikrásky, 1966) as Chytilová’s playful and concurrently radical approach to filmic, gender, thematic, and political material.’ — FCF


the entirety

 

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A Bag of Fleas (1962)
‘Věra Chytilová made her professional film debut with this 1962 fictional documentary set in the women’s boarding house of a textile factory, and told through the eyes of new apprentice Eva Gálová. The soft-spoken Moravian gradually gets to know her flatmates. She forms the closest relationship with Jana, who has discipline problems, and eventually receives a one-month ultimatum from the works council to improve her conduct. As part of the film’s experimental narrative structure, Eva remains invisible to the viewer – she does not step before the camera, and does not communicate with the protagonists of the story; but she does comment on events via internal monologues (this “invisible” figure was dubbed by Helga Čočková). The original, socially relevant story utilises a subjective cinéma vérité style courtesy of lighting cameraman Jaromír Šofra, coupled with an edgy, unsentimental, modernist script from writer-director Chytilová.’ — dafilms

 

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Something Different (1963)
‘In 1963 Věra Chytilová debuted with this feature film based on her own story idea. It simultaneously tells the stories of two thirtysomething women who have never met but who at different levels have to grapple with the same problem. Feeling squeezed between the monotony of their everyday lives, and their desire for change, are Eva, a female gymnast, and Věra, an ordinary housewife. Eva is determined to round off her career as a top sports woman with some very substantial contests, while Věra grants herself some “respite” from caring for her husband and son through a love affair which, ultimately, requires a solution. In the end, however, neither of the protagonists take advantage of the chance that presents itself to them… The then 34 year-old Chytilová explores what would go on to long endure as her beloved theme: women’s emancipation. In the process, she combines, true to the spirit of the New Wave of Czechoslovak cinema, performances by both professional and amateur actors. Whereas the sports woman’s storyline approaches the documentary format – thanks to a cast that includes real-life gymnast Eva Bosáková and her fellow athletes – Věra’s story is purely fictitious and is grounded in the acting skills of Věra Uzelacová, Josef Langmiler and Jiři Kodet.’ — dafilms


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Daisies (1966)
‘Maybe the New Wave’s most anarchic entry, Věra Chytilová’s absurdist farce follows the misadventures of two brash young women. Believing the world to be “spoiled,” they embark on a series of pranks in which nothing—food, clothes, men, war—is taken seriously. Daisies is an aesthetically and politically adventurous film that’s widely considered one of the great works of feminist cinema.’ — The Criterion Collection


Trailer


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Fruit of Paradise (1969)
‘Following on from what is by far her best-known film, Sedmikrásky (Daisies, 1966), Věra Chytilová embarked on a new project, the production of which would be shaped by internal and external forces alike: on the one hand, by the director’s commitment to a kind of restless self-abnegation, the seeking out of a new style for each successive work; on the other, by the brief flowering and much longer withering of the Prague Spring, which ushered in the prolonged “normalisation” of Czechoslovakian society, and which would also see Chytilova barred from making another film until 1975. At first blush, Ovoce stromů rajských jíme (Fruit of Paradise, 1969) offers up a new take on the story of Adam and Eve, which also doubles as an allegory for the invasion of Prague by Soviet forces under the Warsaw Pact in August 1968 – the very month in which filming began. More in line with the unnamed dystopian spaces that gesture towards historical tragedy in Juraj Jakubisko’s Vtáckovia, siroty a blázni (Birds, Orphans and Fools, 1969) than with Jaromil Jireš’ direct criticism of party politics in Žert (The Joke, 1968), Fruit of Paradise avoids forthright political comment and so comes across as an unpredictable and capacious work of art.’ — Stefan Solomon


Excerpt


Excerpt

 

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Panel story (1979)
‘An old man is wandering around a badly signposted and as yet mostly under construction Prague housing estate looking for the high rise block into which he is supposed to be moving with his daughter’s family. The old granddad from the countryside likes chatting, nothing escapes his eyes and he wants to give everyone a helping hand. Six-year-old Pepíček Novák has escaped from his nursery school and in the middle of the mud and dust, he is searching for a present for his dad, whom he is soon to meet for the first time.’ — Screen Shot


Excerpt

 

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Calamity (1982)
‘Almost straight forward as far as Czech sex comedies go–or Chytilova films, for that matter–this film has moments that reminded me heavily of Loves of a Blonde. I suppose there’s some subtext about sex and coming-of-age, and probably more than a little about the culture/society of the setting/source, but… mostly it seemed like a pleasantly silly little sex comedy.’ — Sally Jane Black


Excerpt

 

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The Very Late Afternoon of a Faun (1983)
‘This film was made as a kind of a “protest-song” against the panic fear of getting old and also against flirtation. The main character (played by Leos Sucharípa) is an elderly man, admittedly competent, but not very responsible. In the continuous fear, he is trying to do as much as he can but, instead of confidence, he only finds out that in the real life one cannot just take but must give as well. Last but not least, one must be able to resign to his age.’ — KrátkýFilm


Excerpt

 

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Wolfs Hole (1986)
‘In this Czech political allegory-cum-sci-fi adventure, ten teens from different schools find themselves chosen to take part in a special skiing workshop in the mountains. On the day of the seminar, eleven young people, each bearing an invitation, arrive. A massive avalanche occurs and the ski-lodge is cut off from outside contact. Unfortunately, food supplies are limited and the three instructors strongly advise that the youths work together to make do or choose someone to leave. Time passes and soon the kids learn that their “teachers” are not what they seem to be.’ — letterboxd


Trailer

 

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Šašek a královna (1988)
‘This delirious, politically barbed fantasia swings wildly between reality and illusion as the reveries of a caretaker at a medieval castle—played by famed Czech mime Bolek Polívka—unfurl in a rush of dizzyingly expressionistic images. According to critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, “this feature is probably Chytilová’s best since the 60s… As in Daisies, her fascination with power and gender roles projects a dangerous, Dionysian sexuality.”’ — BAM


Excerpt

 

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The Inheritance or Fuckoffguysgoodday (1993)
‘I don’t know if I could fully recommend The Inheritance. Whereas Chytilova’s Daisies was light, funny and inventive, The Inheritance is bloated, forced and unimaginative, playing out interminable scenes of village folk being assholes well beyond their logical endpoint. Only the final scenes approach Chytilova’s inventiveness in her most famous film – but even that fleeting moment of surreal inspiration is quickly pissed away by the final moment of Polivka hammering the point home with his fourth-wall breaking final line.’ — Czech Film Review


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Traps (1998)
‘Described as a ‘feminist black comedy’, Věra Chytilová’s post-communist film continues the director’s confrontational approach with the subject of a woman who is raped by two men. Unfortunately for them, she’s a veterinary surgeon practised in techniques of castration. Also a political commentary attacking male power, it shows Chytilová treating capitalist morality with the same enthusiasm previously reserved for ‘socialist’ compromise.’ — bfi


Trailer

 

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Expulsion from Paradise (2001)
‘Longtime Czech cinema provocatrice Vera Chytilova, now 70, is back in the flesh with “Expulsion From Paradise,” a ruddy and intermittently funny yarn in which a director’s efforts to shoot an experimental docu about the difference between man and primate are complicated by 112 local nudists.’ — Variety


Excerpt

 

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Pleasant Moments (2006)
Pleasant Moments is a frenetic, freewheeling film that leaves one with the emotional sensation of having fallen down a stairwell for two hours, landing at the bottom thoroughly disoriented and pleased by the shake-up. A revolving door of panicked Prague protagonists with intertwined, overlapping lives are introduced, and introduced…and introduced, to the point you feel nearly overwhelmed as psychiatrist Hana (Jana Janeková), whose office they all end up in.

‘The full Czech title of the film is Pleasant Moments Without Guarantees, better suited to a limp romantic drama than this full-on sustained citywide freakout, and rendering Hana’s repeated, increasingly unbelievable suggestion love is the answer all the more ridiculous (especially given the film’s lackluster crop of men to choose from). Chytilová’s last feature film, Pleasant Moments is a perfect capper to a career cynical towards society while ever empathetic to the wretchedly human.’ — Screen Slate


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p.s. Hey. ** Sailor, Hi, Sailor! It’s very cool to see you here. Thanks for gracing this place. Yeah, totally agree about Schneider, of course. That performance he did in London sounds amazing. I’ve only actually seen one of his big works, a labyrinthine ‘haunted’ house he built at Moca in LA years ago, but it was heaven on earth. Aw, thanks for the kind words, pal. I hope you’re doing great. Obviously, please come back anytime the mood strikes. Take care. ** Bill, Hi. A trip to the German town where Totes Haus ur is located has been a burning dream of mine for ages. Oh, Taipei! Yes, I’ve read about the experimental music scene in Taipei and heard tracks and watched videos of some of what’s being made there, and it seems like one of the moist exciting scenes extant, at least from this distance. Very cool that you can explore it. Did you find the mysterious noise show? Ooh, you’re having fun. Share anything that springs to mind and trickles down to your fingertips. ** David Ehrenstein, Redolent and timely, yes. Everyone, Mr. Ehrenstein has addressed the Trump administration’s latest monstrosity of an action on his FaBlog under the rubric ‘Wag’ and here you go. ** Tosh Berman, Hi. Did you catch that complicated house he built at Moca/the Geffen years ago? Super exciting. Okay, understandable about the TamTam pause and why, and god knows you’ve got an incredible backlist. I’ve paused, probably forever, Little House on the Bowery, but mostly due to not being able to support it as fully as I want to from over here. And also the indie publishing scene exploded since I started LHotB, and I don’t think it’s really needed as much now. Focus on your writing: I big up that plan, as you can imagine. ** Maya, Hi, Maya! Welcome! Oh, yes, Rudolf Schwarzkogler. I know a little of his work, but I need to really sink into it. Maybe I’ll make him a galerie show. Thank you for the suggestion. And, yeah, I would be very surprised if Schneider doesn’t know and isn’t in fact obsessed with the Murder Castle, right? Thank you again. Take care ’til next time! ** Wolf, Wolf! Just yesterday I was lamenting to myself that I hadn’t talked to you in too long a bit. Psychic or something. I’m down with both of our years ahead being great ones. It’s possible, but excluding a bunch of the real world might be necessary. My Xmas was just this side of non-existent, the ‘just this side’ being occupied by the buche, which was fun and delicious enough if not mind boggling. Your Xmas sounds like something I would rewind time to replicate on my turf and terms. You’re reading IC-B! Nothing like her, no? So great to see you! I hope we can face-to-face soon somewhere. Big love, me. ** Steve Erickson, I’m so sorry to hear about your eyesight troubles. That is scary. I’ve had friends have cataracts removed, and it’s apparently a drag to go through but also apparently not as miserable as it sounds. Anyway, yes, make sure your ophthalmologist does what it takes to get to the issue at hand. Hugs. ** Misanthrope, Lack of disappointment is one of my goals, so thank you. I suppose its one of everybody’s goals. Well, except for maybe LPS. What a lazy ass, sorry. Dude needs a hard kick to his expanding ass. That is strange: the phantom loud breaths thing. Nutcase. Good thing he wasn’t packing. ** Barkley, Hi, Barkley! Yeah, it was amazing: the vocaloid-3D-opera. Didn’t know its traces were on youtube. I’ll go find. I like your NYE. No, I bailed on the fireworks. It was freezing cold, and I was sleepy. I just futzed around on my computer and crashed while 2019 was still on its deathbed. ** Okay. I thought I would give you the weekend to explore the wonderful films of Vera Chytilová, best known in most places for her classic film ‘Daises’, but maker of many more terrific things than just that. Give her your eyes and ears please. See you on Monday.

9 Comments

  1. I can’t thank you enough for this Vera Chytilova Day. Next to Varda she’s the most important woman filmmaker in all of cinematic history. “Daisies” is a towering masterpiece and “The Apple Game” and “Fruits of Paradise” aren’t far behind. The latter two have a lot in common with Paradjanov’s work in terms of visual style.

    Van Dyke Parks turned 76

  2. Dennis, Nah, you’re completely right re: LPS. He’s gotta do something. The way he’s going now isn’t going to turn out good.

    Shit, I didn’t even tell you about his “I need codeine” bullshit. Even tried to get my mom to go to her doctor to get some for him. She was like, fuck that, dude. I just don’t know what to do sometimes, except to keep showing him through my actions what you gotta do. What’s funny is that he’s got all these “friends” who he doesn’t realize don’t care about him. He’s not seen that they take care of themselves first and do all the things that he should be doing. For example, they never throw off work to hang with David. A couple of them are now out on their own and working and doing their thing and we never see them anymore. You’d think it’d click, right? Nope.

    Yeah, right? You never know who you’re dealing with in weird situations. I’m just glad the dude didn’t say shit to me after the movie because I’m sure I would’ve had to say something back. Probably just, “What the fuck was that all about, dude?” But nah, he kept his little eyes straight ahead until we left. Fuck him. Weirdo. He was kind of on edge to begin with, seemed kind of weird and sketchy from the start. Moving around in his seat a lot and stuff.

  3. Coopitty Coop!
    That day looks fantastic! Vera looks and sounds excellent, I will add her to our list if things to see in 2020 – which one would you recommend? I have been going through some ‘best films/movies of 2019’ lists to do that actually, do you have any recommendations? Not that we’ll ever get around to watching all of them, but one can hope!
    “excluding a bunch of the real world might be necessary” haha, uh… when is it NOT? It’s right there in Chapter 3 of ‘how to live a stress-free life’, under the ‘dealing with the bullshit’ subsection: denial, denial, denial. That ol’ river in Egypt. On which note, my sister went to the pyramids in August, and she was all alone in there, probably because no-one is psycho enough to hang out in Giza in August, what with it being the fuckin’ desert and all that, but anyway – it did look amazing and actually is making me considering going, which I admit I never really had.
    IC-B is completely fantastic, deliciously vicious, and now I am in need of some more; the same thing happened to me when I started reading her spirit-daughter Muriel Spark: I had to read 4 of them straight to quench the thirst for witty wordsmithing.
    Raising my glass to face-to-face! The oft-imitated, never equaled, luddite-friendly means of human communication. *pink bubbly hearts*

  4. Hiya Dennis!

    I’ve missed spending time here and hope you’re well as possibly can be. Today is a rare entire day off for me (I was doing three jobs for awhile now I’m down to a delightfully manageable ((gag)) two). So no paid gigs for me today and no volunteer work either (I do volunteer stuff with tigers these days… I’d love to tell everyone here more and bring people if they’re interested) Today is a day for poem’ing, mostly, when they arrive, or just fucking about.

    Anyway I’m a married human now and the human to whom I’m married is a huge gamer (i haven’t been here for a very long time but I think you two could rap about games for quite awhile) A little while ago she saw something that reminded her of Banjo Kazooie and she declared “I Fucking Love Bajo Kazooie” so naturally I went and pulled God Jr. off the shelves. She loved it, perhaps in different ways than I could or do since she loves BK so much.

    That’s mostly all for now but perhaps I’ll check out some of these films since I finally have the time.

  5. Wow, I have to check out Daisies ASAP when I get home.

    The noise show was in one of those pedestrian tunnels for crossing busy streets, actually a reasonable space for this sort of thing. Jared Xu organized it, also played a duo set. My favorite was probably Olaf Hochherz’s solo.

    After a long day and a noise gig, I can recommend a tasty local beer and perhaps a street snack like ice cream with crushed peanuts wrapped in a crepe.

    Bill

  6. DAISIES is such an amazing film. CUNY’s TV station ran a series of five Chytilova films, starting with that one and picking up with THE APPLE GAME, in the ’90s. I taped all of them, and they followed DAISIES with a 45-minute interview conducted at the time in New York. I’ve been waiting for this to pop up as a Blu-Ray extra somewhere. It’s too bad her post-’60s work isn’t readily available on video; I’ve repeatedly suggested it to a friend who works at Criterion.

    A friend’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last year. They just found out that it’s beyond treatment and that she has very little time to live. There’s something very terminal and apocalyptic about the moment, in a personal and political sense that’s impossible to escape from. New York’s streets and even my apartment building reek of marijuana now, far more than they did a year ago, and it’s likely testimony to the way Americans feel like we have to self-medicate to cope with that feeling of the rushing void. .

  7. ATTENTION ALL DENNIS – ISTAS IN THE L.A. AREA

    Please consider dropping by my place to buy a book, CD or DVD or two (or more) tomorrow (Sunday) I REALLY need the money

    Contact me at cllrdr@ehrensteinland.com

  8. Hi Dennis, I just dropped you a note and was wondering if you have any thoughts on the subject? xo JPK

  9. Daisies is up there with my very favourites, yet I’ve not seen any other Chytilova films. Rest assured that Fruit of Paradise has now been added to my DVD rental list.

    This is me now back in Dundee, having had a thoroughly enjoyable Xmas down in Leeds. I’m anticipating a 2020 full of creativity and a passed driving test.

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