14 Aug 2018

Paskutinė atostogų diena / The Girl and the Echo (Arūnas Žebriūnas, 1964)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼ out of 10☼
 
 
A great companion piece to František Vláčil's debut feature Holubice (White Dove, 1960), Paskutinė atostogų diena (lit. Last Day of Summer Vacation) enchants the viewer with its highly poetical simplicity. Set in an unspecified coastal area of the Lithuanian south, this mesmerizingly beautiful (family) drama evokes the sense of a 'paradise' we lose after transitioning to adulthood.
 
 
Draped in bittersweet nostalgia, and colored with childlike innocence 'guarded' by a seagull and a dolphin, the film revolves around a young girl, Vika (the endearing first-timer Lina Braknyté), and her short-lived friendship with a new kid in town, Romas (Valerijus Zubarevas), before his betrayal and her departure back home. 
 
 
She is in perfect tune with nature, whereas he rejects the harmony over a group of local rascals, because, well, boys will be boys. Once they go separate ways, there's no turning back, and Žebriūnas awakens his inner feminist to console the little heroine, without ever resorting to sentimentality. 'Arming' her with a little horn, he turns her into a siren of sorts - a herald of liberty and immaculate dreams. All the while, the sea rustles quietly and the rocks that oft-appear as petrified mystics answer in secret codes, but only to those who know how to catch the echo. The sun-bathed black and white cinematography (many kudos to Jonas Gricius) most lovingly captures both the craggy colossi and the children's playfulness, turning the mundane into a miraculous reverie.
 
No, they don't make them like this anymore...

10 Aug 2018

Eros Grieves / Thanatos Experiences Sex Change

“So, how come I am the only one insane here?”
“Your truth is higher than mine, I guess.”
“It is the lie you are talking about.”
“Whatever. The heavens can’t tell the difference. You can’t do anything about it, unless...”
“Erode... Yes! I must erode to overcome this unexistence.”

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Jorogumo Invites Anansi to a Cup of Tea

In the ninth mythological reverie, spidery characters from the Japanese and West African myths and folktales meet under the drab skies of a disenchanted post-apocalyptic world.

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8 Aug 2018

Mythological Reveries (August 6/7/8 '18)

One collage a day keeps despair at bay. The latest three artworks of mine focus on female figures from Slavic and Japanese myths, in a kind of an 'apples and oranges' situation... 
 
Vila Yearning for a Hero


Morana Invokes Czernobog in an Awkward Moment
During the Summer Solstice


Amaterasu Delights in a Landscape Film

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Touha zvaná Anada / Adrift (Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos, 1971)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼


Based on the 1928 novel Something Is Drifting on the Water (Valamit visz a víz) by the Hungarian writer Lajos Zilahy, this little-known gem is considered one of the last films of the Czech New Wave movement. A great result of a troubled production which involved the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Touha zvaná Anada (lit. Desire Called Anada) is a noir-esque, thought-provoking psychological drama/mystery imbued with potentially supernatural elements.

Its challenging, retrospectively told story focuses on the tumultuous inner workings of a glum fisherman, János (an excellent performance by Rade Marković), whose quiet, wearisome life is turned upside down after he and his kind wife, Zuzka (Milena Dravić, radiant and brilliant), save an enigmatic young woman, Anada (the ethereal presence of Paula Pritchett), from drowning and welcome her into their humble home. As the conflict of his conscious and subconscious mind grows and his guilt rears its ugly head(s), the tragedy seems imminent...

Providing us with subtle hints to Anada's (divine?) origin, as well as to where reality ends and János's imagination takes over, Kadár and Klos create convincing characters, deliver a nuanced, engaging, borderline surreal narrative, and aptly visualize their (anti)hero's unhinged psyche (to paraphrase Denis Grunnes). The stark contrast of the hut's dimly lit, claustrophobic interior compared to the lush, liberating, yet somewhat intimidating openness of the sweeping Danube's surroundings reflect the 'small' man's struggle between maintaining the dull status quo and taking a risk to pursue the personal happiness - in other words, leaping into the Unknown. And though the bits of humor, unsolved rebuses and Vladimír Novotný's cinematography may not suit everyone's tastes, one can not deny the intermittent moments of sheer beauty supported by Zdeněk Liška's grandiose score.


7 Aug 2018

Chappaqua (Conrad Rooks, 1966)

☼☼☼☼☼☼☼(☼) out of 10☼

In his mind-altering debut feature (the first of the two films that he made), Conrad Rooks joins forces with the counterculture figures such as Allen Ginsberg (playing Messiah) and William Burroughs (personifying addiction itself) in order to introduce us to his own experiences in drug and alcohol abuse, fiercely plunging the viewers into the 'beat fantasy' of psychedelic non-sequiturs, fourth wall breaking, cleansing rituals (?), rapturous dancing (which involves a druid-like character grooving at the Stonehenge) and ethereal visions of transcendental beauty (gorgeous non-professional actress Paula Pritchett, credited as Water Woman), all to the sublimely delirious score by the Hindustani virtuoso Ravi Shankar (in the role of the Sun God).

6 Aug 2018

Mora's Nightmare

In Slavic mythology, Mora is a malicious spirit who - transformed into a fly - enters the household through the keyhole and sits on sleepers' chest, strangling them and giving them nightmares. She is repelled by garlic, elaborate prayers, broom turned upside down and sharp objects thrusted into the door.

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