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They’ve come to break your heart and eat your food (a.k.a. Anarchy in the C.R.)

November 9th, 2012 § Leave a Comment

I’ve only had the opportunity to get snidbits (new word, congrats me) of this landmark Czech New Wave film in film history classes. I’m happy that 1966 seems to have been the watershed year for Czech cinema, that year seeing us “Daisies” and my personal favorite, “Closely Watched Trains.” Trains are also a motif in “Daisies,” but while “Closely Watched Trains” is one of the masterpieces of the driest, subtlest humor ever to grace the screen, “Daisies” is full-blown in-your-face and over-the-top.

If you want a taste of what you’re with “Daisies,” just know that you’ll be joining two of cinema’s original bad girls as they break down societal conventions left and right until they’ve exhausted themselves of ideas. Follow them as they wine and dine their way through their town’s octogenarians and take food experimentation to the level of fetish (and some rather overt male genital mutilation metaphors, steel yourself gentlemen!). The film climaxes with an Alice in Wonderland-style hot seat buffet at a table of such opulence you wonder if the entire movie’s budget was used on that scene alone.

Shame to see such a spread go to waste. But no meal is a waste when paired with Johnnie Walker!

This film is not without its moments of sheer experimental genius. There are a few montages that not only pushed the boundaries of taste in the 60s but remain impressive to this day as paragons of pre-digital editing and mis-en-scene. One of the most famous images from the film, the disembodied floating heads, is not even the most interesting part of that scene. There ensues a flurry of scissors and the image fractures into a kaleidoscope of prismatic chaos, genius I say!

I’m excited that a new print is being toured around by our friends at Janus Films, because that can only mean a Criterion release isn’t far behind. Now Chytilova’s textbook classic will have the opportunity to join film libraries with the other Czech New Wave luminaries, namely Menzel and Forman. Have I mentioned how much I love “The Firemen’s Ball?” Seriously, there a scarce few societal farces that come close.

—Czech ’em out, dan

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