4 Dec 2004 00:00 - 19 Dec 2004 00:00
Laughter and Tears - Tour
A short season of Czech comedies spanning a period of more than 50 years of filmmaking, concentrating on classic works from the liberal 1960s when films ostensibly made for fun were often attempts at serious analysis of contemporary life and subversively pushed open the door to freedom, disseminating an anti-establishment message.
Your Money or Your Life (Penize nebo zivot)
Sat 4 Dec
Jindrich Honzl | Czechoslovakia 1932 | 1h30m | 35mm | Subtitles
The famous comedy duo Jan Werich and Jiri Voskovec in a whole range of inventive slapstick routines revolving around a stolen necklace, with Werich as a dodgy character and Voskovec a cuckholded husband. Tonda by chance comes across a stolen necklace and soon finds himself chased by both the thieves and the police. Bumping into Pepik, a former schoolmate who has just tried to hang himself, he is persuaded to return the jewellery and scoop the reward, but for the time being they need to stay cool and on the run, employing a variety of disguises.
When the Cat Comes (Az prijde kocour)
Sun 5 Dec
Vojtech Jasny | Czechoslovakia 1963 | 1h31m | 35mm | Subtitles
One of the first major films of the Czech New Wave, Jasny's fantasy is a romance set against the background of a fairy tale town in Southern Bohemia, visited by magician and his cat. The cat of the title has a pair of magic spectacles through which it can see people's true natures (they change colour). It's an unusual mixture of whimsy, satire, and experimentation that never loses its charm and maintains a light touch throughout. Winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival.
Closely Observed Trains (Ostre sledované vlaky)
Sat 11 Dec
Jirí Menzel | Czechoslovakia 1966 | 1h32m | 35mm | Subtitles
A real charmer from the heyday of the Czech New Wave, set during the German occupation but totally immersed in the pubescent problems of a youth taking up his first job as an apprentice railway platform guard with the firmly anti-social resolve to do as little work as possible while others slave. Wonderfully funny observation of the sleepy little backwater depot where nothing ever happens, but where there is a whole universe of frustration, eroticism, adventure and romance.
Who Would Kill Jessie? (Kdo chce zabít Jessii)
Sun 12 Dec
Vaclav Vorlícek | Czechoslovakia 1966 | 1h20m | 35mm | Subtitles
A deadpan comedy-fantasy based around a simple high concept: a woman creates a formula that can remove elements from dreams, but what she doesn't realise is that these elements then manifest themselves in the real world. Bad enough when it's the annoying flies of a cow's nightmare, but when she uses it on her husband, whose dreams include the characters from a comic strip featuring Jessie, a beautiful, blond, voluptuous girl (who is also a scientific genius), the two men chasing her, a musclebound superhero and a gun-toting cowboy, also invade reality, and cause serious damage to the apartment building and later the city of Prague. And when the courts decide the husband should be liable – they are, after all, his dreams – more chaos ensue.
The Firemen's Ball (Horí, ma panenko)
Sat 18 Dec
Milos Forman | Czechoslovakia 1967 | 1h10m | 35mm | Subtitles
The scene is the annual firemen's ball in a small Czech town. The action concerns the committee's efforts to round up girls for a beauty contest, the winner to make the presentation of a golden hatchet to their 86-year-old retiring president. As the ball proceeds, a patchwork of comic incident unfolds: the committee, finding girls too shy and mothers too ferocious, are busily trying to hijack any girl, pretty or not; an anxious official watches as the lottery prizes mysteriously vanish one by one; and the ancient president, desperate to slip away for a pee, is kept waiting and waiting. Quietly, irresistibly funny.
My Sweet Little Village (Vesnicko ma strediskova)
Sun 19 Dec
Jirí Menzel | Czechoslovakia 1985 | 1h40m | 35mm | Subtitles
In the village in question, a co-operatively-run community, live Pavek, who is short and fat, and his workmate Otik, who is tall and thin. Because Otik's teeth outnumber his IQ, he is more hindrance than help, so when he directs the long-suffering Pavek's truck into a gatepost, their fraught friendship is threatened. As if this weren't catastrophic enough, a party bureaucrat sets his heart on Otik's cottage, and arranges for him to be rehoused in a high-rise honeycomb in Prague. A good-natured comedy with infectious optimism and a central Laurel-and-Hardski relationship that is hilarious and ultimately moving.
116 Long Acre
WC2E 9PA London
From: 4 Dec 2004 00:00
To: 19 Dec 2004 00:00