Archive for February 4th, 2011

Stills from Franticek Vlacil's supreme masterpiece "Marketa Lazarova" (1967) screening on Saturday night at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center

by Sam Juliano

      With the ‘revelation’ today that Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre is presently conducting a rare retrospective of Czecholovakian New Wave giant Frantisek Vlacil, Big Apple cineastes must seriously consider revamping their schedules from today until the final day of the venue on February 10.  The stupendous event, (which actually commenced this past Wednesday, February 2) is titled “The Fantastic World of Frantisek Vlacil” and it will include eleven feature films, one short and one documentary (covering the director’s work) and appearances by Czech actor Jan Kacer (Valley of the Bees) and noted critic Peter Hames (author of The Czechoslovak New Wave) both of whom will share introductions to a few key films.  Universally celebrated for his visual poetry, medieval tapestries and the conflict between conformity and free expression, Vlacil’s popularity has risen in recent years, largely after the DVD release of his masterpiece Marketa Lazarova, a film that in 1998 was voted the greatest Czech film of all-time by that country’s critics.  The towering three-hour epic will be screened for the second and final time in this festival on Saturday evening, February 5 at 8:00 P.M. This is the first time the director’s work has been covered comprehensively, and excellent prints are promised.  Three film passes are available for $27 for non-members, and each film will be shown twice.  Allan Fish named Marketa Lazarova one of his top three films during the WitD 60’s countdown and yours truly penned an exceedingly favorable review for Valley of the Bees months back. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(France/Italy 1954 103m) DVD1

Aka. Only the French Can

Tobacco, sheep and roses

p  Louis Wipf  d  Jean Renoir  w  André-Paul Antoine  ph  Michel Kelber  ed  Borys Lewin  m  Georges Van Parys  art  Max Douy

Jean Gabin (Henri Danglard), Françoise Arnoul (Nini Olympe), Maria Félix (Lola), Jean-Roger Caussimon (Baron Walter), Anna Amendola (Esther Georges), Dora Doll (La Genisse), Giani Esposito (Alexandre), Franco Pastorino (Paulo), Michel Piccoli (Captain Valorgeuil), Philippe Clay (Casimir), Lydia Johnson (Mme Guibolle), Edith Piaf,

Much has been made of the comparison between Jean Renoir’s exquisite billet doux to the Montmartre of his father and the eponymous show palace of Baz Luhrmann’s revisionist Moulin Rouge.  Essentially, Jim Broadbent and Jean Gabin are playing the same person, but you can forget all thoughts of comparison, because Renoir’s film was always looking back, and encouraging his audience to do the same.  Even then few in his audience could recall the real Moulin Rouge, they knew it mainly through the art of Toulouse-Lautrec and through the numerous reincarnations of that immortal dance to Offenbach.  Renoir had been there before, of course, with his 1926 silent of Nana, and the period had also been evoked in his sublime Une Partie de CampagnePartie had evoked the outdoors of the French countryside so beloved of his father and the Impressionists, where Can Can revels in the theatricality of the infamous pleasure dome with its iconic windmill façade.    (more…)

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