1714 -18th Avenue • Seattle WA 98122. WHEN: THIRD FRIDAY of the month • 7:30 PM (usually, but check for details on each film) • Free admission

Our Mission: Polish Film Club OKO is a private discussion club, affiliated with the Polish Cultural Center in Seattle (a non-profit organization), and devoted to promoting Polish-themed film art in the Pacific Northwest through exposure, education and discussion - ALL FILMS HAVE ENGLISH SUBTITLES.

ATTENTION FEBRUARY 2019: OKO's mission changed to promote survival of the Polish language among the immigrants: we will still strive to show films with the English subtitles, but it's no longer a major priority. Watch each post for the info on whether the subtitles are provided. We hope you continue to enjoy the Polish Films!

See you at Kino OKO and thank you for being a film friend. OKO logo by Iza Turski.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seattle Polish Film Festival November 4-5-6-11-12-13

There will be no OKO film in November, but plenty of opportunities to see Polish films, as the 19th Annual Seattle Polish Film Festival (SPFF) is coming to town....

SPFF runs November 4-5-6 and November 11-12-13 (two consecutive weekends) at the newly remodeled SIFF Cinema at the Uptown,  located 511 Queen Anne Avenue North, Seattle.  Tickets are $10 at the door.

The Festival’s feature movie is Black Thursday set to show on Sunday, November 6 at six o’clock p.m. This film will be followed by a Question and Answer panel discussion and a second film, Poland in Freedom.

For the full schedule and extras - Nov. 6th reception with director Antoni Krauze, producer Kazimierz Beer, actress Ewa Kasprzyk and producer Jakub Michalski;  2-for-1 ticket offer and more -  go to the Festival website at:  http://www.polishfilms.org/

Most movies listed are recent and contemporary, but a few oldies thrown too ( CAREER OF NIKOS DYZMA, 2002; MADAME CURIE, 1947) +  several great looking documentaries...

See you there!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Goodbye, till tomorrow on Friday, October 28th, 8pm

Do widzenia, do jutra (Goodbye, till tomorrow), B&W, 80 min, English subtitles.
Directed by Janusz Morgenstern
Script: Zbigniew Cybulski, Bogumił Kobiela, Wilhelm Mach.
Music: Krzysztof Komeda
Cast: Zbigniew Cybulski (Jacek), Teresa Tuszyńska (Margueritte), Grażyna Muszyńska, Barbara Baranowska , Włodzimierz Bielicki, Jacek Fedorowicz, Roman Polański, Eleonora Kałużyńska (voice) and others.

Do widzenia, do jutra (Goodbye, till tomorrow) is the directorial debut (1960) of Janusz Morgenstern (1922-2011) His other films include Jowita (1967), We Have to Kill this Love (1972), W-Hour (1979), and Lesser of Two Evils (2009). His TV series are Stake Larger than Life (1967-1968), Columbuses (1970), and Polish Roads (1976).
Do widzenia, do jutra takes place during the second half of the fifties in Gdansk and Sopot. A young student theatre director, Jacek,(Zbigniew Cybulski) meets a beautiful girl, the daughter of French consul, Margueritte (Teresa Tuszynska). He falls in love - in a romantic, poetry-reciting way - and shows her Gdansk. The cast is stellar: we see Jacek Federowicz, Bogumil Kobiela, and a young, almost unrecognizable Roman Polanski who plays tennis, then dances the cha cha with Margueritte on the tennis court. The student theater is Bim Bom - a legendary place, filled with jazz music by Krzysztof Komeda.
This film has been compared to the French "new wave" movies, yet it is fresh and unique. After October of 1956, when the new leader Władysław Gomułka gave Poles hope for the new future, Morgenstern showed Polish young people as creative, artistic, and full of life and dreams. Jacek and his friends are not cynical or brooding over WWII, but they are the faces of the new Poland of the sixties.
This September, after learning about Janusz Morgenstern's death, I wanted to see this movie - and I liked it very much. My mom watched it in a cinema when it was shown for the very first time. I hope our local movie aficionados will enjoy watching it at the Polish Cultural Center in October 2011 - Hanna Gil

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Fearless Vampire Killers on September 30

September  FILM IS FRIDAY, 8:00, not usual Wednesday...   

We will try Fridays for a while, and see how that works....

As much as I try to shy from the proliferating vampire movies, I simpy love The Fearless Vampire Killers. This delightful horror commedy directed by Roman Polanski in 1967 is simply one of my favorite movies ever! Polanski also co-wrote the script and has a great role starring as a bumbling assistant to an indomitable vampire chasing professor. He reportedly really enjoyed making this movie and his acting in it. Certainly it looks like it was a happy time for him and his wife (above - she plays the beautiful inn-keeper daughter Sarah who he is smitten with) shooting the film in Europe. Polanski uses his skills masterfully in this film. The movie unfolds as a comedy with a sign of something amiss here or there, soothing and entertaining the viewer, and then delivers a sudden horror out of the blue! And away we go on a breathless roller coster till the very end. This perfect mix of gags, puns and striking fear is what makes this movie so special and enjoyable. I guess what makes this movie so special to me is also the East-European background so close to Polanski's heart - and used for great comical effect. On that account, it needs to be noted that the music was written by the great jazz and movie composer and musician Krzysztof Komeda, who wrote score to several Polanski movies. Komeda even managed to smuggle the classic old tune Przasniczka by 19c. composer Stanislaw Moniuszko in this movie, sung in Polish, too! I hope you will enjoy this movie as I always do. See you all there! - Rysiek

Monday, June 6, 2011

Next film: June 22 - WIELKA WSYPA (Big Brawl), Jan Lomnicki, 1992

[not regular 3rd, not to be in conflict with  The Legacy of Paderewski concert,  with pianist Piotr Kosinski playing piano in Polish Cultural Center on June 15th]


The JUNE movie will be hosted, and was chosen for your viewing pleasure,  by Leszek C.  See you all there!

Big Brawl (or Big Bust, depending on who translates) - Wielka wsypa;  Dir. Jan Lomnicki, 1992

An action-packed story concerning the rise and fall of a notorious Polish criminal during the first years after communism. As the new Polish government and economy struggle to stay afoot, mobsters and crooks take advantage of the financial chaos left in the wake of the collapse of one system and the establishment of another. Starring veteran stage and screen actor Jan Englert (Kanal; Kiler; The Apple Tree of Paradise), BIG BRAWL captures the reckless atmosphere of this historical moment.

Cast: Jan Englert, Krzysztof Wakulinski, Marzena Trybala, Ewa Gawryluk, Mariusz Benoit, Marcin Tronski, Gustaw Lutkiewicz, Cezary Pazura
Directed by Jan Lomnicki
1992, Color. 98 mins.
Polish Language Version with English Subtitles
Genre: Comedy

The movie has English subtitles, but the trailer below comes only in Polish, sorry; below a clip from the movie with English subtitles.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Next film: 'OSKAR' BY MAREK PIWOWSKI, 2005 • May 18th

Oscar is film about the last days of a terminally ill child.

Oskar is ten when he meets Niebieska, who is seven years old. They immediately go to bed together, but are afraid to kiss each other in order “not to get pregnant.” They are terminally ill with cancer and are patients in the children’s ward at the hospital. Oskar and Niebieska have no idea how much time they have left. Roza, a hospital volunteer, is their matchmaker. She came out of nowhere and gives sick children hope. Like a prophet, she invents a religion and creates a vision of God for them. But Oskar does not trust God anymore. He has watched a lot of science fiction films where he saw one animal kill another to survive. The one that is hurt suffers before it dies. The God who invented suffering is hard to understand for Oskar.

Roza’s God gives children the promise to fulfill their every wish, on condition, that the wishes are only of the spiritual matter and the children can have only one wish a day. A miracle occurs: Oskar’s wishes start coming true...

Marek Piwowski is a director, journalist and screenwriter. He made seven documentaries, three feature films and five TV theater plays. He studied navigation at the Moscow Marine School, journalism at the University of Wroclaw, and film directing at the Lodz Film School. Piwowski has been a miner, farm laborer, journalist at the “Nowa Kultura” Magazine, and a lecturer at the New York University in New York, NY. He has acted in films made by such directors as Skolimowski, Zanussi, Morgenstern, Zygadlo, and even his own films. He is a member of the American Film Institute.
Marek Piwowski in 2010 (In Polish).

I cannot find a trailer for 'Oskar' anywhere, but here is part of a lecture Marek Piwowski delivered at the Akademia Sztuk Przepieknych, Przystanek Woodstock in 2010.  It's in Polish, it took part in Poland...

And here is Piwowski's 1966 documentary 'Kirk Douglas' (KD visiting film school in Poland); Kirk DOES speak English :)


5/22:  The last OKO meeting was hosted by Krzysiu P-K, who treated us to film 'Oskar', as well as to the great poster from Gdynia premiere of the film in 2005. 

Krzysiu has this rare film available in his private collections, and willing to share with those who missed it - please, either leave a comment or email if you are interested to see it.  The film has English subtitles and employs quite good translation  (not always the case - I pay attention to such details, kind of professional aberration on my part).  THANK YOU, KRZYSIU!

The description of the movie 'Oskar' which I pasted (from the internet) above, is the most stupid one could write on the topic - yet that was the only description I found -  not a nice tribute to what advertisers think our minds would take to get interested in seeing the film.  

The last 10 days of the boy who has leukemia are indeed  the sad subject matter, but  story is about hope and acceptance, full of humor and wit and lacking Hollywood-like syrupy sentimentality.  It's a story about an intelligent boy who understands that his medical treatment was not successful, that he will die  and now he has to do deal with his confusion all alone, because all the adults around him - doctors, nurses and parents are simply not prepared or able to help him process what is happening. 

Until he meets Roza - a hospital volunteer who not only levels with Oskar about facts of life and death, but also helps him to realize what it is to live life and find love, however short that life is.  With her guidance Oskar begins uplifting journey through days made fuller by his imagination and spirit of graciousness and acceptance.  The Oskar and Roza dialogs are real pearls - where they basically discuss the meaning of life in very simple, (but not simplistic) terms, leaving an audience with clear understanding that there is more to their words than meets the eye (or ear)...

I had a small problem with the concept of Roza introducing the idea of God to Oskar, and encouraging him to write letters to God as a way of coping with his pain and sadness.  Well, I still have a small problem with the concept - Roza's God was benevolent, spiritual and understanding; her experiment obviously worked for the boy and he died knowing how wonderful it was to have been alive.  But I would dread for well meaning viewers to emulate the idea and hoist religion on dying children - when not done as skillfully as Roza, or with a bit meaner type of God in question, one could easily only add burden to an already painful existence.

The film is based on 2002 novella by french writer Eric-Emanuel Schmitt who - in his childhood - spent many hours in hospitals for children with terminal illness while accompanying his father who was a medical professional working there:  probably that very experience allowed him to write about the subject with so much credibility and without soapy sentimentality.  I read that his short, 80-pages book is very well written (dialogs seem to be taken directly from it), so I intend to read it.  

In 2009, 4 years after Piwowski's TV movie, Eric-Emanuel Schmitt directed a film based on his own novella (with Max Von Sydow as dr. Dusseldorf) - that would be interesting to see, too.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Two Polish film items from the British 'Guardian'

1.) A short history of Polish cinema - blog post by Andrew Pulver with 24 video clips
2.)  Artists of Gdansk: the shipyard that brought down communism -  10 minutes video by Marcel Theroux

And here is your reward for checking-in:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Next film: Marcel Lozinski's documentaries part 2 • April 20th, Wednesday • please VOTE below

Below are synopsis of the remaining movies from two Lozinski's CDs - I haven't seen any of them (no PAL dvd player), so for compilation below used the booklet that came with the CD set, authored by Tadeusz Sobolewski.

Please read and vote for the film YOU would like to see - because most of the films are relatively short we probably will be able to see several top-runners.

The poll allows for multiple choices (you can vote for up to 3 movies):

1.  HAPPY END / HAPPY END 1972/16'
Lozinski's first film:  real psychodrama taking place in front of camera and exploring themes of herd mentality and aggression of group towards individual.  In this film director for the first time  tries formula which he later uses in many films: artificially provoking situations he needs in order  to probe the mentality of protagonists and reveal something.

Camera is recreating the life of a model railway worker, for whom his work is all that matters.  Right before retirement fatigued Marian Cudny causes a minor crash and the film shows job-leaving ceremony which in reality hadn't been held as the crash cancels his life-long service  as a 'labor-leader'.  One of the first Polish documentaries not glorifying the 'worker', but bringing to light his slave status.

3.  JAK ZYC / HOW TO LIVE 1977/82'
Fenced summer camp for young married couple organized in line with the party line, aimed at educating and integrating, but the guidelines turn it into a menacing grotesque, where  the participants compete for the most ideal couple (prize: washing machine).  Director is interested in how the mechanism of conformism works and why people under pressure turn not against their oppressors but against those who break the rules.

Healer clive Harris visits Poland and organizes haling seances in churches, attracting thousands who spontaneously self-organize into informal assistance committees, where people selflessly act and help others, a premonition of the forthcoming rise of the 'solidarity' movement, modeled on the 'workers' defense committee'.  Director is interested in the atmosphere of anticipation of the time, and also in helpful gestures of the people who assist the suffering in getting the act of healing.

Matriculation exam from social and political sciences in one of Warsaw's high schools, which consists of reciting the textbook-learned ideological formulas that are defunct both to students and teachers.  Outside the exam room the students will join others in laughing at their answers.   The film illustrates the theater of social life in PRL where one says different things on the stage and different behind the scenes.

The young radio broadcaster at the Pollena-Uroda cosmetics factory in Warsaw asks if the workers  feel they have a say in running the factory, as gets frank answers that they don't. The management is angered and tries to censor and propagandize him, and when not successful fires him.  At the same time Lozinski was expelled from film production company, but life added an interesting epilogue to the film because of the rise of Solidarity: the young broadcaster found a job at Polish Radio, quit the party and was interned during the martial law of 1981.  'The film has changed his life' - Lozinski says with satisfaction.

Lozinski's first documentary after martial law, made at the time when social apathy was at its highest level.  He is doing a street poll  asking randomly selected people what they think of contemporary youth.  The first part of the film shows the real footage where some people are hedging, while others speak out in despair; second part shows intentionally badly manipulated footage that changes its meaning, and third part the state of the art type of media distortion where inconvenient parts are edited out producing effect that nothing matters and everybody is just smiling.

The film's construction is very simple: it is the Polish eye-witnesses account of the dark moment in Polish history: Kielce Pogrom of 1946, where a polish mob, instigated by reports of a ritual murder, committed a premeditated murder  of 42 Jews, a holocaust survivors, with the militia and the army taking part.  Besides the story itself, the film constitutes a key thread of many Lozinski's documentaries: a study of of a crowd, the herd thinking and acting as well as different attitudes among some of the witnesses.

9.  89 MM OD EUROPY / 99 MM FROM EUROPE 1993/11'
The film is set at the Polish-Bielarussian border crossing in Brest where trains from western Europe stop to be placed on Russian tracks that are 89 mm wider.  A Moscow-bound train from Paris is coming, the carriages are lifted while the wheels are replaced - everyday activity there.  We know that the little boy in the story is the director's son who shares his life between Paris and Moscow.  When the film was shot in early 1990s the illusion arose that the world is integrating, that the lines between classes, nations, systems and people were breaking.  Meanwhile, no progress has been made since - the gauge of the of the east-bound tracks will always differ.

4/18/11 - Sol put a link (in comments) to an article about Lozinski's newest movie - looks very interesting, and it's partially about himself.  I like his movies, but find them a bit strange, so yes, would very much like to see it to understand his point of view better.  Here a fragment of the article, and an active link below (use google translator - link to Polish/English above, in the top bar):

Jest rok 1949. Wera, córka Toni, stoi ze swoim dziewięcioletnim braciszkiem Marcelem na progu domu dziecka, dokąd ich skierowano po aresztowaniu matki. Dzieci są same, czekają długo. W końcu ktoś otwiera drzwi, pyta: "Kto wy jesteście?". "My jesteśmy dzieci komunistów" - odpowiada rezolutnie Wera i podaje wychowawczyni teczkę swoich dokumentów. Tamta krzyczy: "Znowu nam tę żydokomunę przysyłają!". "Wtedy po raz pierwszy usłyszałam to słowo" - dodaje z uśmiechem Wera. Tak zaczyna się opowieść o Toni i jej dzieciach. 

Więcej... http://wyborcza.pl/1,75475,9451408,Ostatnie_slowo_Marcela_Lozinskiego.html#ixzz1JwJN3oAw

4/24/11 • At the last OKO we watched 'Zderzenie Czolowe / Front Collision' (1975), 'Egzamin Dojrzalosci / Matriculation' (1978), 'Proba Mikrofonu / Microphone's Test' (1980) and 'Cwiczenia Warsztatowe /Practice Excercises' (1984)...  

What can I say: I don't particularly get along with Lozinski's movies, but I cannot stop being interesting in them.  Or, in other words: I'm very much intrigued by the social questions he puts forward, but somehow not particularly happy about the way he goes after answers...  I feel teased: here -  a thing that always interested you -  how does propaganda work, or what happens when one doesn't follow society rules...  But the answers are like produced by an alien to my world...

Friday, March 4, 2011

NEXT FILM: Marcel Lozinski's documentaries • March 16th, Wednesday

7:30 PM - Marcel Lozinski documentaries (2006 z Polskiej Szkoly Dokumentu). 

The set of 2 CDs contains 14 documentaries from the recipient of many international awards, all looking interesting and covering years 1972-1998, so it was rather a hard choice, and this is what I decided to fill 70 minutes of next OKO meeting with:

1. Wizyta/The visit. 1974. 16' 
Analyzing the role of media in lives of people under the lenses: Urszula Flis is an attractive media object - she is running a country farm and is also a connoisseur of literature, an intellectual exchanging correspondence with writers. Filmmaker arranges a meeting with a journalist who visits the heroine with preconceived thesis that her country life makes no sense, but Urszula upsets the cart not fitting into this scenario.

2.)  Krol/The King. 1974.  7'
Film made by accident on the way back from filming 'The visit'.  With 5 minutes of the tape left, the film tells the story of the bartender, self-described perfect and proud conformist, who all his life served whoever was in power and now is the king of life in his own bar...  The film was banned for 'the king's' anti-Semitic comment, which Lozinski later removed, but since it not helped with censors, director resolved from that time on not to remove anything on censor's request.

3.)  Zeby nie bolalo/So it doesn't hurt.  1998. 47'
After 23 years Marcel Lozinski re-visits the heroine of 'The visit', Urszula Flis, who still lives in the country on her own.  In this version the filmmaker tries to touch another person's life so it doesn't hurt the subject of his camera. 

About Marcel Lozinski: Director of many awarded documentaries, born 1940 in Paris.
Prior to enrolling at the Łódź Film School in 1967, Łoziński graduated from Warsaw Polytechnic, Department of Communication, and worked for a few years as a sound engineer at the Warsaw Documentary Studio (WFD). He completed his direction studies in 1971, but it was not until 1976 that he obtained his degree, by which time he could boast some serious documentary filmmaking achievement. His pre-graduation project was "Zmiana [A Change]"and "Widziane z dołu [Seen from Underneath]", two parts of a TV film made together withPawel Kedzierski, and "Zderzenie czołowe [A Head-On Collision]" [aka "Front Collision"] was his graduation work. 
More here...

***EXTRA! EXTRA!   Bonus Lozinski film for Polish speaking readers - apology for it not being bilingual, but that's the only version I found on YouTube: 'How is it done' / 'Jak to sie robi - Jak stworzyc polityka' (2006) - Piotr Tymochowicz Public Relations advisor has decided to prove that anybody can be molded into a politician.  

The movie has 6 parts and if the consecutive parts don't show automatically here go to YouTube to watch the rest:

And here is a fragment of an interview with the director  (in Polish)) regarding the film, tiled ‘Let the politicians stew’:

Artur Cichmiński: Kto do kogo przyszedł z pomysłem zrobienia tego filmu? Piotr Tymochowicz do Pana, czy to Pan do niego?
Marcel Łoziński: Odbyło się to jeszcze inaczej. Przeczytałem reportaż pt. "Zakręcę was, jak słoiki na zimę" autorstwa Jacka Hugo-Badera, który sam poddał się takiemu szkoleniu. W tym właśnie reportażu Tymochowicz powiedział, że polityk to taki sam produkt, jak płyn do płukania. Z każdego można zrobić polityka i wręcz zaproponował Jackowi, że nawet z niego może zrobić prezydenta. Jacek powiedział mu wtedy: Nie, ja chwilowo dziękuję.
Jak to przeczytałem pomyślałem, że jest to fantastyczna rzecz. Już w 1991 roku, kiedy wziąłem udział w kampanii wyborczej Tadeusza Mazowieckiego, uważałem że byłoby fantastycznie gdyby udało się mi złapać początek kariery takiego człowieka jak Stan Tyminski, który potwornie narozrabiał na naszej scenie politycznej. Zobaczyć, jak coś takiego się robi? Skąd się to bierze i jak coś takiego może potem mieć ten szarlatański wpływ na ludzi? Kiedy więc przeczytałem Jacka reportaż, wiedziałem że to jest właśnie to. Tymochowicz będzie kreował kogoś takiego i może mu się to uda, a może nie, ale ja przynajmniej przyjrzę się temu procesowi. Poszedłem do niego, zapytałem czy naprawdę uważa, że jest to możliwe? Odpowiedział, że tak i że może mi to udowodnić. Jak? Zrobi casting, a potem wykreuje jednego, dwóch, trzech. Na pytanie czy można przyjść z kamerą i to zarejestrować usłyszałem, że oczywiście. I tak to poszło. Jemu było to bardzo na rękę, gdyż był to dla niego też jakiś rodzaj reklamy. Sam przecież podkreśla, że nie ważne czy się mówi o kimś dobrze, czy źle, ważne żeby się po prostu mówiło i nie przekręcało nazwiska. I dziś niewątpliwie ubocznym produktem tego filmu jest to, że jest to dla niego niewątpliwie reklama.
More here...

Posted 3/17, after OKO meeting:

• I was truly moved by 'Visit/So it doesn't hurt' combo  ('Wizyta/Zeby nie bolalo'), and so was everybody else at OKO, it seems  - Urszula Flis came through both of the documentaries, spanned by 23 years of filming, as really true no-nonsense real person we all could connect with, while the same could not be said about the film/journalist team that descended on her private life in the village where she farms.  We felt the urge to let Urszula know that we feel close to her and her values, while wanting to throw our shoes at TV screen every time the city folks were pontificating, telling her to strike a pose or answer their ever idiotic questions.  We plan to take a group pic of us next time we meet and mail it to Urszula, so she knows there are people out there who relate to her and who she is.

• 'The King' ('Krol') film was rather odd - watching 7 minutes of self-described life-long opportunist preening for the camera made me wonder if Lozinski liked his subject.  The fellow must be dead by now (film made in 1974) and all that is left of him is this documentary, as if he had no redeeming qualities to tell about.  Did he not?

• 'My place' ('Moje miejsce') - 1985 bonus film we watched had some great comic value and caused many laughs: Sopot's Grand Hotel employees telling how they see their world and work - self-aggrandizing statements from lavatory cleaners, cooks, maids and cloakroom attendants suddenly put in front of camera as 'stars'...  The clip was surely funny in a stupid way, but was it sympathetic to the working class people struggles of getting through life's slings and arrows? I thought not,  and wondered if Lozinski would sign under Somerset Maugham line: 'I''ve always been interested in people, but I've never liked them'...

One way or the other, we are not Lozinki-outed yet; so round 2 of his documentaries was agreed upon for April OKO meeting (4/20).  

Surprising and democratizing development also occurred at the last OKO's meeting: just as I was getting tired of my almost 1 year-long OKO dictatorship (with Rysiu K. as a shy shadow co-dictator )  and was pondering a way out (even if this means the end of OKO film club) the idea of sharing the fun of watching films together had its springtime: Krzysiu PK decided to run May meeting and Leszek Ch. signed up for June.  Hallelujah - OKO will go on for a while:)

Other Lozinski links:
- blog  Graciarnia (in Polish)
- Kultura Polska (in Polish)
- Amazon review (in English)
- Nisimazine. eu (in English)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From our new UW Fullbright scholar Tomasz Lysak:

Matka Joanna od Aniolow, dir. J. Kawalerowicz
He teaches Polish film classics in a close focus at UW. Students in Dr. Tomasz Łysak's course of Polish Culture and Society 1944-89 in Film at University of Washington discuss the films trying to move back in time to their release.

New episodes each week.

Somehow, I cannot upoload the youtube video, but link here, let me know, if the link works; will fix it, if needed:

Over at Radio  Wisla there is an interview (in Polish) with dr. Tomasz Lysak:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

About Zanussi's 'Silent Touch' (2/16 screening)

A case of acute bronchitis stopped me from blogging at the time of seeing the film a week ago at the OKO meeting, but now- a week later - I still can't say I liked it...  I mean it was highly watchable, performance-wise: an old, mean-spirited curmudgeon-genius (old composer, in case of this movie) is fun to watch, especially when played by the great Max von Sydow ruining  the lives of his  companions.

The rest of the cast was impeccable, too:  a dutiful, subservient wife played by a british actress, page-like-worshiping Polish music student played by a French-Canadian and an enthusiastic, bubbly young musicologist/secretary/lover, of course - all good fun to watch. The finished symphony was played and  the love-child was born.  But, I agree with  Ewa Bienczycka, who said 'so what?'  in her pre-movie comments (see below the previous post).

To me, the plot was highly predictable and tad misogynic, too boot:  everybody serves the genius-artist-master,  for a greater good - the old issue of art versus life gets good airing.  The greater good was one Wojciech Kilar's symphony,  played at the movie's end in an upscale concert-hall, and 'interviewed for the masses' by a  blond-hair/fake-eyelashes journalist (kudos for Beata Tyszkiewicz for a perfect phony news anchor) .  The symphony, or the extend we heard of it, was a nice piece, but hardly a show stopper.

I read somewhere that this film was supposed to be Zanussi's big come-back in early 90s - after great movies of 60s and 70s the filmmaker was hit with something of a dry spot in 80s;  I also read that it was well received when it came out in 1993 and widely seen as such.  Perhaps my personal expectations were too high, and I should have headed advice in  NYT review : '[...]"The Silent Touch" should not be analyzed too closely.[...]', instead of expecting another 'Struktura Krysztalu'.

I missed the OKO discussion after screening, as my lungs were exploding (which might have colored  my perception, too), but  before I run out I heard that most people liked the movie, so hopefully Rysiek, who took over at that point, reports about after-the-film talk and counters my uncharitable opinion...

Monday, January 24, 2011

NEXT FILMS: FEBRUARY & MARCH; unless you tell me otherwise

• February 16, Wednesday, 2011 at 7:30 PM -  Zanussi's 'The Silent Touch' (1992)
• March 16, Wednesday, 2011 at 7:30 PM - Marcel Lozinski documentaries (2006 z Polskiej Szkoly Dokumentu). 

February 16: 'Zanussi's The Silent Touch' (1992), trailer here:

From NYT review:  Since his vintage years with Ingmar Bergman, Max Von Sydow has seemingly worked without stop around the world playing roles that don't come up to his instep, wrestling with Satan in "The Exorcist" and suffering serenely as God's son in "The Greatest Story Ever Told." With the exception of "Hannah and Her Sisters" and "Pelle the Conqueror," he hasn't had much to do recently except collect his paychecks. He's one of the cinema's great underused resources.

This is the principal reason to see "The Silent Touch," the new British-Polish-Danish co-production starring Mr. Von Sydow, who is Swedish; Sarah Miles, who is English, and Lothaire Bluteau, who is French Canadian. The film, which was directed by Krzysztof Zanussi, who is Polish, is set mostly in Denmark, though everyone speaks English, maybe because it's the lingua franca of the people who put the movie deal together. More here

Silent Touch is an English language film made by celebrated Polish director Krzystof Zanussi. It was co-written by Peter Morgan who over ten years later was to write such celebrated screenplays as The Deal, The Queen, Longford, The Other Boleyn Girl.

Zanussi was one of the strengths of the Polish film industry, despite his overt Catholicism. During the 1970s he won a number of awards all over the world. After the fall of communism, he became the head of the Polish studios in Warsaw, producing a number of films including those of Krzystof Kieslowski. Zanussi’s best-known film is Year of the Sun, 1984, which was a world prize-winner.

This film focuses on Max von Sydow as an ageing musical composer, in the classical vein. He is also a survivor of the Holocaust. When a young musicologist comes to visit him, he is inspired to do one more final work. However, there is an emotional cost, especially for the musicologist whose girlfriend becomes the composer’s mistress. This also has its repercussions for his wife.

Lothaire Bluteau (Jesus of Montreal, Black Robe) is the musicologist. Sarah Miles came out of semi-retirement to play the wife.

The film is highly melodramatic - but explores themes of art, genius, obnoxious personalities, fidelity and infidelity, creativity.

• March 16, Marcel Lozinski documentaries (2006 z Polskiej Szkoly Dokumentu). 
Trailer of his other work here:

Marcel Łoziński o swojej pracy:
Dlaczego robię dokumenty?
Bo coś się wokół dzieje, we mnie też i próbuję to połączyć.
Bo lubię zadawać pytania o radość, strach, ból, nadzieję.
Bo chcę zrozumieć jak to jest..
Bo nie wierzę w obiektywny zapis.
Bo kaprys Pana Boga cenię ponad moją wyobraźnię.
Bo ciekaw jestem, czy inni czują podobnie do mnie.
Bo to mój wybrany zawód, nie chciałem pracować jako inżynier
. Bo lubię zagęszczać rzeczywistość, ale tak, żeby jej nie zniekształcić.
Bo musze zarabiać.*

I will develop this post into more informative piece very soon.  So stay tuned:)

2/14 - Well, nothing happened of my good intentions of developing this post into something more informative - but check Ewa Bienczycka's contribution in the comments section below - it's pretty informative while also hilarious.  If you don't speak Polish let google- translator be your friend - link to translator here; just copy the polish text into it, it's pretty good nowadays.  There is also Iphone app for google-translation now, perhaps you have it.

I did order Lozinki's documentaries from Merlin (on-line bookshop) in Poland - hopefully when it gets here, I'll write separate post for him...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

NEXT FILM: 'THE HOUR GLASS SANATORIUM' • January 19th, Wednesday

Set in pre- World War II era. A young man is on a strange train to see his dying father in a sanatorium. But the place is going to ruin and recalls a lot of memories from the past. He is beset by soldiers from the past, colonial black mercenaries, girls from his early life, and his parents. It is an interior adventure, with unusual atmospheric flair and extraordinary sets. Written by Polish Cinema Database

ATTENTION:  something is not working:  despite of a half a year presence in the Polish Home, Film Club OKO has not worked out its core audience.  We have somewhere between 8-15 people coming for each screening, but with the exception of 2-3 super-loyal fans the audience is changing constantly and I never know  if anybody will come at all (we have no membership).  I do not mind running the club for 3 people, but wondering if I should change the formula to better answer those 3 people wishes, or should I aim at the wider audience.  

Not sure if the problem is the day chosen (evening commute can be challenging in the middle of the work-week) or the films shown (completely understand that my own choices are not universal).  So, please comment below or come prepared to discuss what should be done with the OKO club:  change the day (Friday is often quoted as the 'best' day, problem how to compete with other activities that day in Polish Home), change the films (please, share your ideas) or close it.  Another thing which crossed my mind is to list films people could view in the comfort of their own homes, and discuss them HERE;  but it's truly not the same as real discussion club.  WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Posted 1/24/11:
The 16 of us who came to see the film last Wednesday had a great time and a delightful discussion:  how ahead of the time the movie was, its beautifully dazzling photography, the unforgettable themes of dreams conflated with wishes of preserving the passing life and passing memories, and reconstructing one's childhood through them.  

Several of us saw the movie for the second time, with more, ahem, mature outlook on life than the first time around, so we talked about that, too. Several people were there intrigued more by the persona of Bruno Schulz- the artist (the film was based on his stories) than the film itself, so we talked about his life and death, about his writing and art, as well as the times he lived and created (1930s and 40s).  

Teresa brought a wonderful complimentary written material from her past research on Bruno Schultz, which people appreciated to take home and read, and Wanda brought along two young Americans who seemed quite interested in the film and the discussion about it and said that it was one of the weirdest films they saw (probably ever), but also one which is likely not leave their imagination soon.  Thanks Rysiu, for choosing the film and making sure it plays! (it was PAL version, even though Rysiu bought it here, through Amazon.com...  )

The movie was 2 hours long + discussion, so we had not much of a chance to talk about the future of OKO.  So, my dictatorial rule marches on from lack of alternatives - see the next post (above)...