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 Dzien swira

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DIRECTED BY: Marek Koterski

FEATURING: Marek Kondrat

PLOT: An easily irritated Polish teacher with OCD spends a long day in increasingly surreal, comic situations.

Still from Day of the Wacko (2002)

WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: This cult Polish comedy is a long shot for consideration among the weirdest of all time, but it does offer numerous imaginary sequences, a uniquely cynical perspective, and a scene where the main character complains, “where are all these weird people coming from?”

COMMENTS: Day of the Wacko’s Adas Miauczynski is a comic creation who transcends cultural boundaries. Perpetually annoyed, he strides through Warsaw like a Polish Basil Fawlty, arguing with noisy neighbors, defecating on their lawns, and sending a crippled lapdog flying over a hedge with a swift kick. He’s no role model, but his take-no-guff attitude is perversely appealing; his misbehavior allows the audience to live out a fantasy of taking out their frustrations on annoying urbanites. But while Adas’ antics are vicariously satisfying, the film never loses sight of how utterly miserable the man really is. The first twenty minutes or so show him engaged in his obsessive morning rituals, which involve him washing up and making coffee, always using multiples of seven. He’s the kind of sad sack who, when he finally meets a dream lover in a fantasy sequence, immediately begins worrying about how he’ll be able to get rid of her. And his final monologue as night falls over his apartment block is utterly despairing, tonally inconsistent with the foregoing comedy, and yet somehow not at all out-of-character.

The movie is essentially plotless, showing Adas mucking his way through various social disappointments over the course of a long day. After completing his persnickety ablutions and raging at his noisy neighbors, he gets peeved and walks out of the poetry class he’s teaching; visits his mother, ex-wife, and son, all of whom disappoint him to various degrees; putters about attempting to complete errands; tries to take an afternoon nap just as a wandering minstrel decides to stroll by with an accordion; and decides to take a trip to the beach, where he falls asleep and dreams about death. These adventures are peppered throughout with little fantasy sequences and skits: snippets of the serene-but-constantly-interrupted poem Adas tries vainly to compose, a TV ad for dildos. The satirical material aimed at millennial Polish audiences may go over your head: for example, a scene where various factions tug at a medieval flag, which rips apart and bleeds. The film occasionally looks like it was shot on video, and the fantasy sequences lack visual fireworks, but the imagery isn’t really the thing here: it’s all about Kondrat’s peeved performance, which keeps you watching to see what outrage he will suffer, or commit, next.

Marek Kondrat plays the role of Adas Miauczynski in two other Koterski films, Dom wariatów (1985) and Wszyscy jestesmy Chrystusam (2006). Cezary Pazura played the same character (although named “Adam” instead of “Adas”) in Nothing Funny (1995) and Ajlawju (1999), and at least one other actor has portrayed Miauczynski at a different stage in life. Like Mick Travis in ‘s movies, there is little narrative or stylistic continuity between the various Miauczynskis; Wszyscy jestesmy Chrystusam, for example, seems to be an earnest drama about alcoholism, and in another, the character is described as a film director rather than a teacher. Other than Nothing Funny and Wacko, none of the Miauczynski movies appear to have been translated into English. Wacko is the most universally praised.


“A nonstop screwball screed against the multitude of perceived indignities in contempo Poland… sheer chutzpah alone should propel this unique item to brave fests and perhaps a bit of business.”–Eddie Cockrell, Variety (contemporaneous)

(This movie was nominated for review by “haui.” Suggest a weird movie of your own here.)



Severin Films 5-disc set.

I’ve sung Kier-la Janisse’s praises earlier here about the “All the Haunts Be Ours” folk-horror boxset that she curated for Severin Films. I assume a good many of the people reading this are familiar with Janisse already from her book “House of Psychotic Women,” published in 2012. 2022, the book’s 10-year anniversary, saw the publication of an updated edition (new films appear in the book’s appendix) and this boxset of four movies. Though much smaller, this release is equal in quality to “Haunts,” if perhaps more niche-focused: all of the films featured could fall under the heading of “Eurocult.” This is the first American Blu-ray release of each.

Identikit (1974), directed by Giuseppe Patroni Griffi and based on Muriel Spark’s novel “The Driver’s Seat,” stars as Lise, a somewhat prickly woman on a trip from London to Rome on her way to meet up with a man. The film jumps around in time as Lise is apparently being pursued by the police, and we see the reactions of people who have encountered her and their interrogations. With incidents of terrorist activity in the background, it seems that Lise is on a mission that will end up in dire consequences—which indeed it does, but not all how one might expect.

Identikit comes at the end of what has been referred to as Taylor’s career decline, a period that included offbeat projects like Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Boom! (1968), Secret Ceremony (1968), and Night Watch (1973), all of which were thoroughly roasted by critics at the time and no more successful with audiences. Those films are being reevaluated and are now considered to be among some of Taylor’s best work. Identikit stands proudly amongst that body of work. Lise is abrasive and disagreeable to most she encounters: service people; airport security (note that the movie was shot one year after airport security measures were put into place, which look quaint and lax compared to current times); and toxic men like Bill (Ian Bannen), a buffoon who thinks he’s just her type, and Carlo (Guido Mannari), a mechanic who gives her a ride to a hotel and attempts to rape her. But Lise shows some wistful vulnerability with an older woman () with whom she goes shopping, a man she thinks might be the person she’s looking for ( in a cameo), and the man who is the one she’s searching for. As the movie skips around in time, Lise proves to be a totally enigmatic character, even as she achieves her goal.

The audio commentary by Millie De Chirico (late of TCM Continue reading HOUSE OF PSYCHOTIC WOMEN: RARITIES COLLECTION


Ucieczka Na Srebrny Glob

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FEATURING: , Xawery Żuławski, Małgorzata Braunek, , Krzysztof Zanussi, Janusz Zaorski

PLOT: A documentary on the making of On the Silver Globe, Andrzej Żuławski’s adaptation of his great-uncle’s “The Lunar Trilogy.”

COMMENTSOn the Silver Globe is the other notorious Andrzej Żuławski film, although not yet as widely known as Possession. That’s not surprising, knowing the science fiction epic’s troubled production history. Globe was pivotal in many ways. Had it been completed on time, it would have been the largest science fiction film made in Europe at the time, and could have put Żuławski on a different career path had things worked out… perhaps.

Understanding that career path, which Kuba Mikurda lays out in detail, is key to everything in Escape. Via interviews with crew and family members (his brother and oldest son on camera; his ex-wife is heard on audio) and archival interviews with Żuławski, we see the director from his start as an assistant to Andrzej Wadja to directing his first two features. The second, Diabel [The Devil] (1972), got noticed by government authorities and resulted in Żuławski’s exile from Poland… for the first time. He returned to Poland in 1976 to make On the Silver Globe, a large scale sci-fi epic, during an economic crisis. Its cost made it a huge target in the political sphere. Escape does a good job making the political situation clear to audiences. Best of all, it features behind-the-scenes footage of Żuławski at work. It also doesn’t shy away from an unflattering portrait of Żuławski, recognizing him as a brilliant filmmaker, but a man with many issues when it came to interpersonal relations. Escape addresses the dissolution of his family during his first exile (which created the creative fodder for Possession), as well as giving insight on his later years.

Escape from the Silver Globe accomplishes several things. Besides serving as an in-depth look at a film that was just a legend for many years and is now ripe for discovery by audiences, it’s an approachable introduction, especially for Western audiences, to Żuławski and his work.

Escape will be released on Blu-ray by French distributor Le Chat Qui Fume (The Smoking Cat) as a stand-alone, and also as part of a long awaited boxset of Żuławski’s “Polish Trilogy” (The Third Part of the Night, The Devil and On the Silver Globe), which was previously available only in Japan. Unfortunately, it will not have English subtitles. That seems to also be the case with a German release from Camera Obscura. It has been confirmed that there will be a U.S. distributor, but no official announcement has been made at the time of this review.


“Oscillating somewhere between Andrei Tarkovsky’s cerebral sci-fi and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s intricate surrealist iconography, On the Silver Globe was all set to mark a critical turning point – not just for Żuławski and Polish filmmaking, but for international cinema at large… [Escape] never falls into the trap of boredom, simulating the contagious energy of a Żuławski picture, and the love and fascination at the heart of this project are truly palpable.”– Marina Ashioti, Little White Lies (festival screening)



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DIRECTED BY: Mamoru Oshii

FEATURING: Malgorzata Foremniak, Wladyslaw Kowalski, Jerzy Gudejko, Dariusz Biskupski

PLOT: Ash is a master solo-player in the illegal immersive game “Avalon” who risks brain-death in pursuit of the secret level known as “Special A.”

COMMENTS: Tanks rumble down the dilapidated streets of an Eastern European city center. Civilians scurry around frantically; partisans take aim at the lumbering metal beasts. One of these gun-toting figures stands out for her daring maneuvers. Artillery barrels blast, shots burst forth, and a number of figures are hit. They transform into two-dimensional renderings before shattering into thousands of polygonal shards. The lady fighter leaps a-top one of the tanks and… soon the mission is over. Ash awakens in a dingy room and removes her virtual reality head-set. She’s earned some cash from this lawbreaking, but more importantly she’s added to her legend. She is the reigning queen of Avalon.

What follows, to put it politely, is a bit of a dramatic letdown. When your dystopian future is washed in the same sepia and decay as the escapist game which acts as your dramatic vehicle, it helps to have some convincing characters to differentiate between the decrepit future and the decrepit whiz-bang tech. Mamorou Oshii is no stranger to science fiction, no stranger to compelling visuals, and no stranger to techno-cynicism. However, being shackled to in-the-flesh actors and materials-based set-pieces, he has lost his ability to adequately shape the world. It is no surprise that when he is playing with the (then) new CGI wizardry, he shines—a sequence involving a cannon-covered super fortress on wheels is stunning. It is perhaps a surprise, however, and certainly a letdown that the human actors driving the speculative narrative seem to have fewer dimensions than his literal two-dimensional animations.

Reality, morality, choice, perception, and the relationship between man, machine, and the virtual: these are all explored in Avalon, but are explored much better in other Mamorou Oshii films, not to mention the many other CGI/VR movies that arrived en mass in the early aughts. Avalon gets points for being a Polish addition to the genre (the director’s nationality not-with-standing), and for the polish of its look (it is yet another movie which adds up to far less than the sum of its single frames). But the stilted performances become impossible to overlook. There is a blast of beauty-cum-surrealism in the final scene, when Ash reaches the elusive hidden level within the game. For the first time, the film enjoys the full color spectrum, and a diegetic symphony underscores a dramatic encounter. Ultimately, though, Avalon suffers from its anchor to the real world, and acts merely as a reminder that some filmmakers best perform their amazing magic when not constrained by the laws of the mundane.


“Neither an out-and-out actioner nor a fully realized study of the psychology of games-playing, pic is still reasonably diverting and has a curio value coming from Mamoru Ishii, director of cult Japanese anime ‘Ghost in the Shell’ (1995).”–Derek Elley, Variety (contemporaneous)