Archive for August 28th, 2012

by Shubhajit Lahiri

If film noirs are known for their cynicism, nihilism, and stylized photography and chiaroscuro, Italian Neorealism for disarming simplicity, stark realism and lyrical storytelling, and French Nouvelle Vague for avant-garde style, cheeky reversal of genre conventions and formalist approach to cinema, Czech New Wave shall always be remembered for the array of searing political satires (oftentimes in the garb of absurdism) it engendered. Despite probably not being as influential and seminal as the other three movements, it was every bit as audacious and fascinating. And Milos Forman, along with his legendary peers like Jiri Menzel, Jan Nemec, Jaromil Jires, Vera Chytilova et al, was one of the most towering figures in the political and artistic time capsule that this essential period of film history represents.

The Firemen’s Ball, released in 1967, was quite an event in the career of Forman, who had become a darling of the Czech New Wave with the delectable comedies Black Peter and Loves of a Blonde, and who would later become a darling of Hollywood what with his One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Amadeus. It was his first film made in colour; but more importantly, it was his last movie in his native Czechoslovakia before he headed for America just in time before the Prague Spring invasion. The movie, like so many other works belonging to that movement, got banned in the country for its “seditious” and “anti-nationalistic” content, and nearly represented a catastrophe for the director when its initial producer Carlo Ponti withdrew his patronage. (more…)

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The next in a series of masterpieces of the small screen

by Allan Fish

(UK 1968 40m) DVD2

Who is this who is coming?

p  Jonathan Miller  d/w  Jonathan Miller  story  M.R.James  ph  Dick Bush  ed  Adam Bosworth  art  Judy Steele

Michael Hordern (Professor Parkins), Ambrose Coghill (Colonel), George Woodbridge (hotelier), Freda Dowie (maid), Nora Gordon (proprietress),

In the early 1970s, Lawrence Gordon Clark undertook a series of adaptations of ghost stories for Christmas for the BBC.  There was one each year, running throughout the decade, and fans will justifiably have fond memories of the Dickens’ adaptation The Signalman with Denholm Elliot and M.R.James’ adaptations A Warning to the Curious and The Stalls of Barchester.  Yet it was several years earlier, in the days of black and white, that the best TV ghost story of them all, another James adaptation, was made for the BBC’s Omnibus programme.  Whistle and I’ll Come to You was forty minutes that would stay for life with anyone who saw it.

The tale centres around a fifty-something Cambridge Professor who comes to a somewhat isolated seaside town at the turn of the century to get away from it all.  He just wants to spend his time walking the coast, reading his books, and generally being left alone.  He even eats at a small table alone, and spends much time muttering to himself.  One day out on a walk along the beaches near the hotel, he finds an old whistle and, returning it to his hotel room, deciphers the engraving on it as “who is this who is coming?”  He decides to blow on it and, from that moment, is terrified with visions of being chased by a ghostly spectre along the beach front and even in his own room. (more…)

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