Author Archives: leerobertadams
“There’s a little seen film called The Navigator: A Medieval Odyssey, where some English miners from the Middle Ages tunnel through the earth and emerge in modern day New Zealand. Watching Marketa Lazarová feels a bit like that in reverse – you leave your comfortable 21st century life behind for a few hours and pop up in medieval Bohemia.
Director František Vláčil spent around two years filming on location, which meant his cast and crew were afforded barely much more luxury than the story’s characters. Few films have such a feeling of history – not in the studious sense of dates and places, but of deep dark waters of time rolling beneath the keel of the present day’s unsteady ship. Few films also match Marketa Lazarová‘s dazzling visuals with such authentic production values, so while the virtuosity of Vláčil’s film making often distracts from the story, the credibility of its setting is never in doubt.” Read the full review here (opens in a seperate tab)
History was always dull at school. Boring men in brown suits in musty classrooms full of brown books that no-one ever read, droning on about the bloody Nazis. Now I look back at it, I think: how do you fuck up teaching something like World War II? With the right teacher, history could be the most exciting subject ever! When you synopsize WWII, it sounds like the most thrilling blockbuster imaginable, full of massive battles, daring escapes and featuring some of the worst bad guys in history. That stuff should just teach itself!
Now the great and terrible 20th Century recedes into history, and it’s left up to us to assess it and try not to make the same mistakes. Luckily we have documentaries like The Fog of War to help us understand some of the key events, Errol Morris’ tricky, morally complex portrait of a man whose life was irrevocably entwined with war and death.
Like many people of my age, I loved a good John Hughes movie growing up, but never considered that there might be any subtext to his films. After all, he was a director who made a career writing, producing and directing frothy, fun, mainstream flicks aimed primarily at younger audiences.
However, I only saw The Breakfast Club for the first time recently, and the touchy-feely story of teen angst was instantly my equivalent of Nada’s special shades in John Carpenter’s They Live! – suddenly I saw the innate conservatism behind Hughes’ work, which is fine, and the hidden message behind his superficially rebellious pictures – OBEY and CONFORM!
“It’s Oscar time again, and I really should know better. I’ve followed the Academy Awards for twenty years, and I realised about fifteen years ago that they aren’t a true reflection of the quality or scope of the year’s movies.
However, like a devoted WWE fan who knows deep down that the fighting isn’t really real, I still can’t stop myself going ape when the contenders start flinging themselves from the top rope come Awards season…” Read the full review here.
Death comes to us all, and when that last moment stretches out to eternity, all men face the same questions. Have I lived my life to the fullest? Have I done the best for my loved ones? Was I man enough when circumstances demanded it? Did I dare disturb the universe? Did I get enough blowjobs?
Andělé všedního dne, the latest film from Alice Nellis (Some Secrets), focusses on this last question. It’s a meaty topic, and she really gets her teeth into it.
Not really, I’m lying. I just wanted to use a few cheap gags as crass and tasteless as the movie itself. Andělé všedního dne is an ugly, depressing film. It tries to say things about mortality and kindness, but is basically about a man who thinks his life is rubbish because he’s never been sucked off before.
“There is a man in his underpants walking through Times Square. He’s fighting his way through the crowd, and embarrassingly, everyone seems to know him. That is because the man is Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), once a global superstar because of his role as Birdman in a string of blockbuster action movies. His career has been a little slow for the past few decades, and his star not just on the wane, but almost extinguished. But people have long memories and still want an autograph or their picture taken with Thomson, or shout out to him as if they’re old buddies, even though he’s just a middle-aged guy in his underpants struggling through a big embarrassing crowd to get to the theatre on time for his scene…” Click here for the full review (opens in a separate tab)
“Jiří Menzel’s Closely Watched Trains (Ostře sledované vlaky) is arguably one of the best known Czech films beyond the country’s borders, having won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1968.
Adapted from Bohumil Hrabal’s slender novel, it was the first Czech movie I saw, long before I emigrated to Brno, and on first viewing I couldn’t help but notice a basic similarity to an old British sitcom, On the Buses…” Click here for the full review (opens in a seperate tab.)
“Nightcrawler‘s Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a guy who never misses an opportunity. When he is caught stealing chain link fencing for scrap metal, he beats up the security guard and steals his watch.
Cruising the streets of Los Angeles one night, he comes across a car crash and sees an independent news crew filming the scene. These people are “Nightcrawlers”, chancers who scour the airwaves for 911 calls and race the emergency services to the scene of the crisis. Any gruesome footage they capture is sold to the TV news networks. Bloom decides that this is the career for him, and pursues it with single-minded zeal…” Click here for the full review (opens in a seperate tab)
“The Brno edition of the Iranian Film Festival opened Tuesday with two bracingly good movies, Reza Dormishan’s I’m not Angry! and Shahram Mokri’s Fish & Cat. The overall theme of the festival is “Rebels of Iranian Cinema” and the double bill was a fitting opening, showing the verve, innovation and fearlessness common in the best independent filmmaking, and showcasing two young directors of startling talent…” Click here for full article and reviews.
“After the enjoyable but lightweight Obecná škola, I’m pleased to report that the next film on my journey into Czech cinema is the real deal. Pelíšky (Cosy Dens) is an immensely satisfying tragicomedy set in the months preceding the fateful Prague Spring of 1968.
It is a robust family drama featuring some wonderfully poignant comic performances from a formidable cast of Czech and Slovak character actors.
My immediate recommendation comes with a “but” – while Obecná škola is broad enough to appeal to a general audience, your enjoyment of Pelíšky may depend on two things: How well you’re attuned to Czech gallows humour, and at least a basic knowledge of Czech history and culture.
So if you don’t know why someone would have a live fish in their bathtub, or think that Prague Spring sounds like an ideal time to visit the capital, grab a Czech friend before sitting down to watch Pelíšky…” Click here to read my full review for the Brno Expat Centre (Opens in a seperate tab).