Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

film festival part two: the films

The first film we saw was this one, the story of a manic-depressive and his quest for fame.

We arrived just as it was starting, and as we entered, a guy with thick-framed glasses, an arty aura and a beer in his hand was just leaving the front of the audience, to applause. I'm guessing he was something to do with the film, possibly the director, I'm not very good at face recognition...

The film was good. OK, I'll never be a film critic but even I can expand on good. It was made up of original camera footage of Dan Johnston's life, facilitated by his obsessive need to record everything and everyone around him. The film looked at his obsession with one girl in particular, his disregard for the rules of society and his slow spiral into mental illness. I wanted to hug his poor parents. Seriously, poor things. His escapades, his banishments into mental hospitals and the bizarre paths he chose to follow made for fascinating viewing, but ultimately it was a tragic film. Very sad. There may be a thin line between madness and genius, but the genius sure as hell doesn't make life any easier for the people around a madman.

The second film we saw was the one Beatroot mentioned before, and one that I'd read this review for, so I wasn't expecting it to be very ha-ha funny, more interesting in a historical perspective way. I'm glad that's the approach I took because the jokes? They weren't funny.

Want an example? Here goes...

How does a Russian visit his friends?

wait for it....

In a tank.

Hmm. Yeah. Anyway, it was great because we got a potted history of communism. The theory that the strength of the system could be judged by how rigidly people were being stoppped from telling jokes was maybe a little thin, but an interesting perspective, and I enjoyed it.

It was also pretty cool because they had a couple of shots of my favourite Warsaw Social Realist statues, which can be found by Plac Konstitucji. They are these huge chisel jawed men and big-bosomed women, holding tools and children with pride that shouts out 'look how wonderful we are, I bet you wish YOU were communist too'. I love them because they are so stuck in the time they were made, and the film appreciated them too, because they were shown twice. Seeing the film in a cinema down the road from them kind of fitted neatly too.

The bit I didn't like so much was the tone of the narration. It was trying to be light hearted and entertaining but in doing so risked ignoring a few details ' the second world war, the Russians got as far as Berlin, which meant they won...' It also had the voice overs of Poles/Hungarians/Czechs/Slovaks etc etc done in regional accents, which I suppose was supposed to be refreshing and slightly comic, but ended up reminding me of eurotrash (which obviously, I never watched, but... ahem). They also referred to 'plucky little Poland' starting off the collapse of communism. Poland may be plucky but it's not very little.

Now a joke that actually got a chuckle out of me...

An Englishman, Frenchman and Russian(man?) are discussing Adam and Eve:
Englishman: Adam and Eve were obviously English - it's clear by how shy and reserved they were.
Frenchman: No! Adam and Eve were French; they were both naked and beautiful.
Russian: You're both wrong. Adam and Eve were Russian. Why else would they have no clothes and just one apple to share between them.

Ok, it was funnier in the film, surrounded by all the dire jokes. Honest.

Anyway, we made more use of the film festival this year than last year but hopefully not as much as we will next year.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The joke with the russian tanks is good ,because it shows the absurdity of the so called "friendship" between the soviet union and the other states like poland ,the chech republic or hungary...

11:52 pm  
Blogger Becca said...

Hi anon, it's not that I didn't get the joke, it's just that without putting yourself into the historical context, it falls a bit flat.

9:42 am  
Anonymous szwed said...

Here`s another one for you:

"Who liberated Isaura?"

"The Soviet Army".

For the historical context, see:

10:06 pm  

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