Žert [1969)

It would be, perhaps, best to list this as a Slovak film.

Slovakia.

We always talk about Prague.

But not enough about Bratislava.

Yet all of this would make little difference were this film not notable.

And it is quite notable.

The direction by Jaromil Jireš is admirable.

He plays with time.  A very unusual montage of flashbacks.

Haunted.  Haunting.  Hunted by communism.

This, then, would be a subversive film.

To show the corruption within Czechoslovakia.

To show the nightmare of reeducation.

The term is never named as such, but that’s what it is.

Punitive military service.

The soldiers with no weapons.

Because their country doesn’t trust them with such.

In the mines.

On the ground.

Relay.

Hup hup hup.

Power trip of professional army in service to socialism.

Trotsky is forbidden.

And so is humor.

Don’t make your jokes too pointed.

There’s no squirming out of the fact that you stand in opposition to the ethos of your government.

I.

It may not be a momentous occasion to realize that literature is being made.

For it skips under your nose as mere nonsensical rubbish.

Poppycock.  Hogwash.  Eyewash.

Tropes and memes and drupelets hanging low.  Evolving necks.  Giraffes.

I am of two Yiddish species:

schlub and schmuck.

Unattractive.  Fool.

Me and Josef Somr.  Who lives!  Age 82.

A masterful performance.  As real as my daily routine.

Shirt coming untucked.

I have kept my hair, but his combover parallels my gut (his too).  Sucked in.

Beware of jokes.

You are being watched.

Your letters are being intercepted.

And you will have to answer for your words.

Just what exactly did you mean by, “…” ???

Well, this is Milan Kundera with the story.

And I rebelled all the way.

I drew Baudelaire with lightening bolts.  And chartreuse dreams.

Kundera lives!  Age 87.

Born in Brno. (!)

But let’s back to this love-hate.

Not Mintzberg.

At the same time.

Alternating.  A constant election.

Affinities.

I will achieve 17,000-word vocabulary.  Just you watch.

I almost hate my town too.  I know.

Was I imprisoned?

No.

But I lost music.

Like Ludvík.

The name is significant.

Like lost hearing.

And so the clarinet is indispensable.

I mention Jana Dítětová because she was from Plzeň.

Pilsen.  Pillsbury.

The selfish gene.

Tricked.  Objectified.  MILF revenge reified.

Pithy memetics.

MIKE MILF.

Markéta is significant.

LazarováTwo years previous.

A permanent opium war of mankind.

Opiate of the masses.  Asses.  Snippets of military abuse.

You’ve never seen…like this.

We can still insult liberalism.  And neoliberalism.  And neoconservatism.

We can still find Starbucks artless.  And Subway.

But Wal-Mart passes over to kitsch.  Of which Kundera would understand.

Like Warhol meets Flavin.

All that fluorescence.

Non-stop.

Europe endless.

Schubert.

Dip the waves.

Coyoacán borough of Mexico City.  D.F.  Day effay.

Trotsky died the same year Conlon Nancarrow moved to Mexico.

1940.

And Nancarrow would make Mexico City his home.

Las Águilas.  With his Ampico player pianos.

Ludvík is expelled from his teaching position like Dr. James Tracy.

History is always with us.

We see the corruption of good intentions.

Communism.  Socialism.

Teachers of Marxism.

How the country had slid.

And Věra Křesadlová eats her cotton candy.  Stunning.

We wonder why the movie couldn’t have been about her.

But we needed the schlub/schmuck.

And the attempted suicide with laxatives.

Which is to say, there are far more than six stories in narrative history.

Bollocks Schenkerian analysis.

 

-PD

#2 The Return of Mr. Bean [1990)

As we enter into the second chapter of Mr. Bean’s television life, it is worth noting a particularly prevalent-yet-understated theme of the show:  loneliness.

For instance, Mr. Bean takes himself out for a birthday dinner.  He writes a birthday card for himself which, a short time after signing it, he discovers with naïve surprise and is heartened that he remembered his own birthday.

Yes, Mr. Bean is the surreal loner.

But there is another theme here:  optimism.

Bean doesn’t seem bothered by shopping alone (as long as he has his shiny, new American Express card…and his potato…and his fish).

No, he revels in the wonder of life.

Everything is an adventure.

If Seinfeld is a show about nothing, then Mr. Bean is a show about less than nothing.

Atkinson is wielding a sort of comedic antimatter weapon.

And the effect is devastatingly funny.

It’s funnier if you’ve had steak tartare, but it’s still funny if you haven’t.

Also present is that English (as in England) preoccupation with courtesy and politeness…manners, if you will.

Bean wants to save a man from the ignominy of embarrassment.  The bloke has picked up the wrong charge card.  So Bean surreptitiously picks the man’s pocket just to put the right card back in.  But his hand becomes stuck at the end of the act.  And so Rowan Atkinson is dragged all the way to the toilet with this man.  Silently following.

It brings to mind the famous Pink Floyd lyric:  “Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.”

I’ve many times thought that applies to me (as I am mostly of English descent…though a bit French…and Italian [Venetian]).

Few things in this world are more antiquated than the British monarchy and (not completely unrelated) “manners”.

I don’t have any particular fondness for Queen Elizabeth or any other royal (of any nation) who’s ever lived.  It’s a bunch of poppycock, if you ask me.

But manners are worth something.

Yes, I do respect the common man and the common woman…who remind us of a different time.  Common courtesy.  THAT is the true royalty of the planet.

 

-PD