Thursday 19 April 2018

14 ish - Eastern European stuff exc. attempts

The Snow Queen (1967)  - Attractive Lenfilm musical, with talking  birds, land pirates, cartoon interludes, and a principal boy. Very visually interesting - 2-d cartoon snow monsters instead of the expected stop-motion. Shown by the BBC in 1970 in the usual Tales from Europe slot (narrated by Gary Watson, aka Arthur Terrell, one of the more useless Doctor Who baddies), and released in the US by Paramount.

The Very Same Munchausen (1975) - Mosfilm miniseries about the Baron, shows that Soviet fantasy was at its height in the 60s. By the 70s, it feels somewhat less insane, somewhat ordinary.

Operation Y and Shurik's Other Adventures (1965)/Kidnapping, Caucasian Style (1967)- A Mosfilm series of Soviet comedies, bright, attractively shot, inventive, brash but again they lose something in translation. The gurning and laboured slapstick becomes tired.

The Diamond Arm (1968) - From the director of the Shurik comedies, Leonid Gadai, apparently beloved in Russia, a sunny but not very engrossing heist comedy.

Private Detective or Operation Cooperation (1992) - Very odd comedy, dreamy, but the early 90s crumbling Soviet Union fascinates, gradually more open Western influences. Also by Gadai. Visually interesting, but as usual with Russian comedy, not much to laugh at that's intentional. Here, the hero looks alarmingly like a young Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson.

 There's Good Weather in Deribasovskaya, It's Raining Again in Brighton Beach (1992) - Gadai film, set in the US, like a cross between The Master of Disguise and Les Patterson Saves The World, features a spoof of President Bush, and has footage shot at the Trump Taj Mahal, even thanking the grate man himself in the credits.

Teddy Bear (1980) - TVP Poland-associated film, a comedy involving wicker-like teddy bears, end is set in London with Polish-accented Englishmen.Jolly, but nothing more than a curio outside its own language.

The Seventh Bullet (1972) - An average spaghetti western - except it's Uzbek, by Uzbekfilm/Tajikfilm, and written by Andrei Konchalovsky.

Solaris (1972) - Visually rewarding but too long, and therefore an easy route up its own rectum.

Jan Nemec's Party on the Guests (1968) I found Pythonesque bollocks, while its director, Barrandov blacklisted Jan Nemec's other film Diamonds of the Night I found better, but still rather boring. Like an hour and ninety minutes of the B/W "secret footage" Tim recovered of Hitler in The Tomorrow People. I prefer much of the mainstream Czech cinema of the period to the New Wave (i.e. something great like Tomorrow I Shall Wake Up And Scald Myself With Tea).

Tried watching Walerian Borowczyk's films, and I find them some interesting stuff overshadowed by lots of erotic bollocks (including actual bollocks). Not quite my thing.

Season of Monsters (1987) - Miklos Jancso's Hungarian Robert Altman-alike, set amongst a town with a Nessie-like creature. Doesn't ever feel like it leads to anything. Lots of anger in a field, as a helicopter flies by. Turns into something resembling an Eastern European amdram version of the Bed-Sitting Room. The final shots are nice.
Jancso's films are weird. Some of it looks like a  spoof of Eastern European cinema, while his 1976 Italian coproduction Private Lives, Private Pleasures is a Playboy TV pick that echoes the work of smutmeisters like Tinto Brass, down to Teresa Ann Savoy in the cast. I seem to gravitate towards the more commercial side of Eastern European cinema, which is weird, but it doesn't aim for weird, and that's the best kind of weird - weird cinema that thinks it is normal. Watched a few of these. And my point seems to be proven. The Escape from the Liberty Cinema looked like an ep of Boon. Again, I seem to go for the commercial-weird. The Saragossa Manuscript a bit too Gilliamesque for my liking.

Sweet Movie (1974) - Features a vagina POV shot, a very cheesy, disturbing gameshow (what the show in Game of Danger could have been, but wasn't thankfully) and despite all the visual joy, e.g. the milk bottle, it's just too sleazy. If the Kroftt brothers made porn. Not even John Vernon and George Melly make it worthwhile. Lots of smacking and oiling. A very sticky movie.

I Even Met Happy Gypsies (1967) - A staid but rather truthful look at modern Romanis in Yugoslavia. Launched the career of Bekim Fehmiu, star of Harold Robbins' The Adventurers. Has a  pipe-smoking aul wan.

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