Friday, December 24, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
Besides that: Happy Holidays everyone. ola
Film o poetce Wislawie Szymborskiej, laureatce nagrody Nobla w literaturze (1996), w 8 czesciach. Ponizej link do czesci pierwszej, mam nadzieje, ze stamtad latwo dotrzec do pozostalych czesci...
Poza tym, WESOLYCH SWIAT WSZYSTKIM! aleks
Wislawa Szymborska film
Friday, December 3, 2010
'The Century of the Self - Happiness Machine'
Go to YouTube for the subsequent parts if they are not showing here after part 1...
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Delightful young film on YouTube, cut and pasted in 9 pieces. How is it Polish? Well, it isn't, except for the Polish text read over the film. But it's quite Slavic, and it could happen in Poland or anywhere - quite a gem. Enjoy it here:
The Polish Book Club in Seattle this coming Saturday is doing a book by K. Kutz 'Piata Strona Swiata' ('The Fifth Corner of the World). While at it, watch this Silesian wonder, named 'Angelus' by Lech Majewski, a metaphysical comedy from Slask. I grew up there: in Myslowice, at the very triangle of three emperors. My sister had a 'dzialke'-garden right at the triangle...
Saturday, October 30, 2010
I'm still going to bring 'Debt' on November 17th OKO Film Club, in case the mystery voters show up, but I'm also going to bring a second film, ironic comedy titled 'Wedding" (Dir. Wojciech Smarzowski, 2004), and let whoever comes decide which film to watch.
Wojnar is a wealthy man who is marrying off his beautiful daughter Kasia, in a small town in present day Poland. Wojnar had to bribe the groom with a fancy car, since Kasia was pregnant by another man. At the end of the ceremony, the car is delivered by a gangster, who immediately demands the promised money and the deed to land from Kasia's grandfather. Unfortunately grandpa is unwilling to let go of the land. Meanwhile each of the workers at the reception demand to be paid, so Wojnar, who is very reluctant to part with his money, tries to haggle and bribe his way out of all the situations. Written by Will Gilbert
Here is 'The Wedding' trailer on YouTube.
Here a link to film review in English.
Here to film description in Polish, and a review, also in Polish.
Posted 11/18/10. Great meeting of friends to watch a movie together, but not sure about the film itself. Described often as 'bitter-ironic' picture or a comedy, rewarded and noticed at festivals, 'The Wedding' didn't really won me over: the formula of mixing too much vodka and never ending mishaps tired me fast and was all too predictable. Also, the director didn't seem to like any of his characters, each and every one of them is ridiculed without any compassion for the life they were born into. So why spend the time to tell their story? Just to laugh at their shortcomings, without offering some sort of universal hope or redemption for all the lives born into spiritual wasteland?
I don't know, perhaps I'm just Polish movied-out... There used to be a time when Poland offered great insights and ideas in film. It doesn't seem to be a case any longer. Most Polish movies of recent times seem a big disappointment, and based on the idea on how it 'll sell out in theaters: Gory enough? Gross enough? Funny enough? Will sell fast and enough? Please...
Fortunately, the idea of showing 'The Hourglass Sanatorium' by Wojciech Has (1973) - based on Bruno Schultz mind-blowing prose - came up during our meeting for screening in January or February...
So fasten your belts, we are back to good movies....
Thursday, October 7, 2010
THE PROMISED LAND
Dir. Andrzej Wajda, 1975
The film won October poll narrowly by one vote, whiff! My own personal preference, so I'm quite happy about it.
The total vote was 18:
• Maids of Wilko - 4 votes
• The promised Land - 7 votes
• The Debt - 6 votes
• The White Soup - 0 votes
• (Unspecified) Other - 1 vote
Starring: Daniel Olbrychski, Wojciech Pszoniak, Andrzej Seweryn, Anna Nehrebecka, Kalina Jedrusik and many more big stars of the Polish cinema of 70s - for full cast and credits go there.
Very interesting tele-disc made for the movie here.
Trailer (in Polish only) for the movie here.
Wojciech Kilar's Waltz music from the movie here.
Wajda himself writes about the movie here (+ a few reviews included)
Wikipedia article (in English) about Wladyslaw Reymont here - the script was based on his book.
I read somewhere that the film's message was very acceptable to the Polish regime in power when it was made, and that the film reviewers were government-encouraged to give it high marks for the harsh portrayal of capitalist Poland. I loved the film the first time around, when it came out, even though back then I don't remember reading any reviews of it - it was just a stunning picture to me, commenting on human traits, beautifully done and acted. I remember thinking that it will be a hard to forget film, although its political message probably went right over my head - it was a common knowledge back then that Reymont, the author of the book on which the movie script was based, worked as a clerk for an industrialist about the time the book takes place (the end of 19 century), so I thought he wrote on what he saw: the moral and spiritual gangrene that can overtake a person who chooses to act on greed alone. I also remember noting the workers' struggles and wondering if the class war is over. Oh, well:).
The film proved so memorable, that watching it so many years later in OKO I noticed how many parts were cut from the DVD version; that I found very disappointing. Nevertheless the film withstood the test of time: even with some scenes missing, it is still super interesting portrayal of the city of Lodz in certain historical point - when it was very linguistically and culturally diverse, and when Poland was actually off the map as a country!
And the music! Did I mention the beautiful and haunting music of the film? It deserves a separate post - not living in Poland for so many years I haven't have the chance to hear it often; hearing it now touched me the same way as the first time.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I'm getting considerable amount of pressure to choose movies for viewing, instead of putting them up for a vote. As I'm reluctantly inching in that direction, I would at least like to be an informed leader/dictator (depending which part of of bossing you around you prefer), and know your general tastes in films: Old? New? Documentaries? Surprise Me? So far I'm definitely not in sync, because I would never guess that 'Strike' would get majority of votes for September; I put it up for vote because of the Solidarity round anniversary, but didn't think anybody would want to watch 2 documentaries in a row (our August film, "The Peretzniks" was also a documentary).
To help you vote I asked Asia in Poland (she is a film school graduate, and the author of the October OKO film choices) to share with us how she arrived at those four movies (from 309 Polish-themed films she looked up at Scarecrow Video website).
Below is her response (English version google translated, slightly human-improved; why does google think 'Zurek' = 'Matthew Brown'?)
- Future Benevolent Dictator
Friday, August 20, 2010
Dir. Volker Schlöndorff
Strike (click on the title for trailer) is a Polish language film produced by a mainly German group, released in 2006 and directed by Volker Schlöndorff. The film is broadly a docudrama. It covers the formation of Solidarity. The action centers around work and labor organizing in the Lenin Shipyard in Gdańsk, Poland.
posted 9/15: After seeing the movie tonight:
Most of us didn't like the movie much: too simplistic, different truth than we remembered, and overall rather disappointing. But, BUT, very big BUT: most of os who didn't like it that much actually WERE in Poland where it all happened; so perhaps we are just too emotional about it, as it hits us on a gut level.
After we all spewed our bile Krzys, who worked in shipyard in 70s, philosophically noted that we, the Poles, never made a documentary film about Solidarity (except for 1981 Wajda's ' The man of Iron'); it took a German director to look back - a very good question why.
Then another viewer, Paul, who travelled 60 miles to see the movie, and WASN'T there when it happened, announced he thoroughly enjoyed the film: he didn't care about little details (true or not), liked historical perspective the film offered and was struck how labor movement struggles are the same the world over.
Apart from the movie: the bacon/onion lard Iza made for the occasion was awesome with pickles and bread. There was a scene in the movie where the main heroine slathers the bread with something: probably lard... Somebody joked that the wine we had, should have been vodka... oh, well. We also had some great home garden harvest tomatoes and cucumbers + super-delicious discussion.
Below a few related links:
• Volker Schlondorf Wiki-page
• Interview with Volker Shlondorf (Reverse Shoot Blog)
• Slant Magazine 'Strike' film review
posted 9/12: Article in Polityka 'An old friend worse than foe' (in Polish)
Interesting 9/9/10 interview with psychologist, Konrad May, attempting to explain negative emotions between old allies, Solidarity members, who now seem to fight each other. Here is a fragment and google (not very good, but readable) translation:
posted 9/3: 'Strike' it is.
23 votes total:
- Nicos Dyzma - 6 votes
- Decalogue - 3 votes
- Strike - 10 votes
- Secret Garden - 4 votes.
Thank you for voting and see you all at the screening next Wednesday! What would be appropriate potluck food for the occasion? The striking people of Gdansk probably had good old fashioned lard sandwiches... I remember making tons of it with onion and fried apples - my arteries were grateful. Not. But it was sooooo good on the fresh bread. Anybody still has a recipe for lard making? I'll bring the bread and wine - such an occasion, as Hanna said below: '30 years ago some people in Gdansk decided to take a stand', and that is all that really matters, we shall celebrate them!
posted 9/2: the poll ends today, so far it looks like we will be seeing 'Strike'.....
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
August 18, 2010 7:30 PM
Dir. Slawomir Grunberg, 2009. Here is the trailer for the film on YouTube.
The events of March '68 are still somewhat obscure in Poland. The political background is known, as are the film archives, and press coverage. However, little is known about how it was to grow up in Poland of the sixties as a Polish Jew, or as a Pole of Jewish origin. How it was to be a kid in the heart of a country still recovering from a horrific war, in a family severed by the Holocaust, and then to come of age and experience first loves at the outbreak of the disturbing March events. The experience of the 'Peretz School' pupils in Lodz in some way reflects the experience of the Jewish minority in Poland in the 50 and 60 of the previous century. It is the experience of adolescents nevertheless, who were much more interested in the Beatles than they were in politics. It was the latter, however, which caused for most of them to scatter all over the world, creating a peculiar phenomenon of a Polish-Jewish Diaspora integrated today in so many countries' identities.
The Peretz graduates' experience shows that though they were made to leave Poland, they never quite said goodbye, not quite to Poland and certainly not to old friendships. The emotions they show are not nostalgia, but rather a real part of their lives. This documentary is not another film about immigration. Nor is it a film about nostalgia for school years. "That school was our entire life" - one of the characters in the film says. "It wasn't just a school... it was a way of life" - says another. The Peretz school created a peculiar microcosm, where one could have a sense of security, but - most importantly - a sense of community. It was a common experience of the 'Peretzniks' that they were born in families affected by the Holocaust. For most, this meant not having any grandparents, or aunts or uncles, and often not having any siblings. The school was in some sense an extended foster family and an oasis, where our characters could feel like 'normal' kids.
8/20: A very interesting film, well balanced, moving, very warm and funny, too, despite the fact that the reason for closing the Peretz School was rooted in horrid events. The former students featured in the film are my generation or up to 10+ years older - it was strange to think about their lot back then Poland, in 1986, when my life was totally unaffected by it all...
It is quite often in life that we live in the world that we think we know, yet some events pass us by, as if they happened in some parallel universe. By the time I was able to think about 1986 on my own there was mainly the 'official version' which didn't make much sense, while the people involved, who might shed some light on how it was for them, were already gone. Even all those years later, when somebody mentioned being a Jew who left Poland after 1968 I kept wondering 'so where is that story, from their point of view?' But life moved on and snippets of the past was all to be gathered in conversations; so for me the film was finally THAT story.
It was fascinating to watch old documentary footage too: by the time the party secretary Gomulka (featured in the film) reached my consciousness he was an old drooling party hack, with a touch of senility. In the film he appears in his prime: menacing, calculating evil man, who will say anything for political advantage, knowing very well the effect it will have on some people's lives and having no remorse about it. And the whole propaganda machine that went with it: people lined up to clap en masse during his speech to make it all more convincing; pretty horrifying thought on how many haters of Jews that one speech must have produced (5 minutes earlier they probably had no feelings one way or another on the subject).
Completely off the main topic of the film: I found the aspect of homage to the old teachers very touching - to see the former students finding them and watching with them clips of the film on the computer... How many teachers ever experience that, or even know what happened to their pupils?
Oh, and the skype interview with the director did happen: Slawek was very courteous and generous toward us, and offered to wait until AFTER the movie, despite the fact that we connected coast to coast while his part of the country was already mostly asleep. It was very helpful and much better conversation, than if we had it before the movie, as planned - thank you, Slawku!
P.S. I've been alerted that posting comments on this blog is confusing (i used a template, know nothing about writing codes), so on the right side of the page, I included instructions which hopefully clear it up.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
June 16, 2010 • Wednesday, 7:30 pm
'The lost Requiem'
Polish Film Club OKO invites everyone to the screening of the documentary "The Lost Requiem" by Khosrow Sinai (DVD 1980, 80 minutes. In Farsi with English subtitles)
The film tells the story of the World War 2 era Poles coming to Persia from the Soviet gulag camps in Siberia. The filmmaker follows the life of several individuals, while describing the general fate of several hundred thousand former Polish prisoners. Introduction: Roxanne Emadi; discussion after the film.
It turned out to be rather large 'club' - there is obviously a hunger for this kind of information, because we had the house packed. Several former Siberian exiles came, some of their family, friends and many people simply interested in the stories of people deported to Siberia during the WW2. While the fate of the people whose lands were occupied by Hitler is generally well known, because it was part of the larger war narrative of fighting fascism, the fate of the people deported to Stalin gulags only now is reaching general consciousness.
Roxanne Emadi, a young American journalist of Polish and Persian descent did wonderful, very moving introduction about the director and how the film came to existence.
We finished evening with discussion about the film around potluck offerings, consisting mainly of Persian type treats - sweets and fruits, probably similar to those Polish Siberian exiles were greeted with upon arrival to Persia in 1942.