Archive for the literature Category

Czech the Time

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , on March 14, 2015 by dcairns

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I was gifted a copy of TOMORROW I’LL WAKE UP AND SCALD MYSELF WITH TEA about seven years ago, and never got around to watching it. Something about the title put me off. I lump it in with HOW TASTY WAS MY LITTLE FRENCHMAN — a cute title that doesn’t make me want to see the film, or understand why I might be expected to.

But when I realized that the movie is a time travel yarn, I was more intrigued. The title starts to work, and it moves to the next level when the main character actually fulfills it. Now he’s woken up and scalded himself, all we need is the “tomorrow” part. And since the hero works for an airline that offers flights into the past using a Czech-onvented time machine, we don’t have long to wait.

Jindrich Polák’s film, based on a short story by Josef Nesvadba, is all plot — the character’s are purest Czechoslovakian cardboard, the science is non-existent, the logic governing the science is seriously wonky (it’s never explained why the time-travellers have to fly into space before temporal relocation takes place) and the visual style is pretty pathetic.

Oh, apart from the titles (at 1min 18)

I remember Milos Forman, in Richard Schickel’s Chaplin documentary, talking about the release he felt when seeing THE GREAT DICTATOR and finally being able to laugh at Hitler. There’s something nice about this sequence, because it’s actually the real Hitler being made ridiculous.

In brief, some surviving Nazis in Brazil steal a briefcase sized atomic bomb from Strategic Air Command and plan to hijack a time-rocket back to 1944 to help Hitler win the war. But the Czech pilot they’ve bribed chokes to death on a bread roll (or, as the IMDb quaintly describes it, “dies in a breakfast accident”) and he’s replaced by his identical twin brother, who covets the corrupt twin’s life. He now finds himself embroiled in a Nazi time travel plot not of his own making, and serve him right you may feel. But he’s actually quite sympathetic, as he tries to resolve everything happily, thwarting the Nazis, finding true love twice over, and setting up enough temporal paradoxes to make Stephen Hawkings’ head spin, which would be a nice change for him I suppose.

I usually find Czech fantasies from this period visually impressive (the Technicolor people in THE CASSANDRA CAT, or the lemon-yellow vistas of THE LEMONADE KID, or the Svankmajer decor in THE STRANGE CASTLE IN THE CARPATHIANS) but curiously uninvolving and not as funny as they think they are. This one is consistently amusing in its plot contrivances, even if it basically looks like ass.

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But there are some neat effects — someone had the idea of out-of-focus foreground details to make the scene more convincing.

Listography

Posted in FILM, literature with tags on March 11, 2015 by dcairns

manhattan

Wandering aimlessly in my local Waterstones (a museum which realistically recreates the days when human beings bought physical books from physical retain establishments) I was intrigued by a volume entitled Film Listography. At first I thought it would be a collection of lists compiled by some movie hack, but to my surprise it turned out to be a collection of blank pages with headings — inviting the reader to compile their own lists. It seemed quite fun. But I’m buggered if I’m spending £7.83 on a bunch of blank pages. You can do what you like.

What you get is stuff like MEMORABLE MONOLOGUES and FILMS WITH GREAT COSTUMES. About seventy of those and you’ve got yourself a book, apparently. It’s not a bad gift for somebody beginning to think about cinema. But you could make your own book and invent your own headings and have even more fun. Here’s what I’d put in mine.

40s MOVIES WITH TALKING CAMELS

MOVIES WHICH STEAL/ADAPT THE PREMISE OF “THE THREE AMIGOS”

SILENT MOVIES WITHOUT INTERTITLES

MOVIES WITH UNBALANCED STOCK FOOTAGE-ORIGINAL FOOTAGE RATIOS

MOVIES WHERE MIKE MAZURKI GETS A CHARACTER NAME THAT ISN’T A THUGGISH NICKNAME

MOVIES WHERE A BODY BUILDER WRESTLES AN EXTRA DISGUISED AS A WILD ANIMAL

MOVIES WITH GREAT BAD LINE READINGS

SCIENCE FICTION MOVIES WITH TRAGICALLY UNDIGNIFIED COSTUMES

MOVIES WITH BRILLIANT BUT INACCURATE ACID TRIPS

MOVIES WITH RESPECTED ACTORS DOING TERRIBLE ACCENTS

ACTORS WHO LOST CREDIBILITY DUE TO WEARING TOUPEES

ACTRESSES WHO PLAYED THE MOTHERS OF MEN THEIR OWN AGE

FILMS WITH BOTH MONKEYS *AND* DOGS IN ‘EM

MOVIES IN WHICH ANN-MARGRET IS HOTTER THAN BALLS

If you want to buy a book with lots of blank pages: Film Listography

I would welcome further suggestions.

The Sunday Supers

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , on March 8, 2015 by dcairns

There are no intertitles in Clément films, so I have to finish Réne Clément Week with a bodge-up. Two superimposed titles from late Cléments, each a quote from Lewis Carroll ~

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“Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her and to wonder what was going to happen next.”

From THE RIDER ON THE RAIN (1970).

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“We are but older children, dear/Who fret to find our bedtime near.”

From LA COURSE DU LIÈVRE A TRAVERS LE CHAMPS (1972).

Both quotes are eccentrically apposite to their respective films, and also establish the quirky tone. I resolve now to begin a film with a Lewis Carroll quote. I think my favourite lines from Through the Looking Glass are too long and clunky for the purpose, though the beauty of them is that they never ever make it into filmed adaptations so they’re relatively unfamiliar ~

‘Crawling at your feet,’ said the Gnat (Alice drew her feet back in some alarm), ‘you may observe a Bread-and-Butterfly. Its wings are thin slices of Bread-and-butter, its body is a crust, and its head is a lump of sugar.’

‘And what does IT live on?’

‘Weak tea with cream in it.’

A new difficulty came into Alice’s head. ‘Supposing it couldn’t find any?’ she suggested.

‘Then it would die, of course.’

‘But that must happen very often,’ Alice remarked thoughtfully.

‘It always happens,’ said the Gnat.

And here is an unrelated limerick.

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