A great master’s one-dimensional portrait. About “The Voice of Sokurov”
Leena Kilpeläinen has taken a mighty challenge upon herself. To make a film about a figure whom one deeply admires is no easy task. This rings particularly true when said figure is none else than one the world’s most complex and contradictory artists –Alexander Sokurov.
Filmmaking Solidarity. The case of Oleg Sentsov
How can the international community stand up to political violence which breaches the rights of individuals? How can filmmakers in the West, and their Russian peers, respond to radical steps being taken by the Kremlin?
The Festival of Insignificance – an escape from Central Europe. On the new novel by Milan Kundera
Something has gone wrong with the creative force that once was Milan Kundera, something all too plain to see in his latest novel The Festival of Insignificance (2014). This is the fourth book he has written in…
The defiant archetype. A review of the film “Terminator: Genisys”, directed by Alan Taylor
I enjoyed watching the latest Terminator movie. And I don’t say that just to sound humble, because the film has already gathered a lot of bad reviews, while we – filmmakers – are never fans of what critics…
LIBERAL CULTURE DEBATE. The lost symbol of ’89
Why has Poland’s turning point of 1989 not earned its own visual symbol yet? How are the times of the transformation perceived by both younger and older generations? Grzegorz Brzozowski in conversation with…
Religious temptations. A review of Michel Houellebecq’s new novel
The description of happiness brought about by living in accordance with Islam, as described by Houellebecq, leaves no room for doubt – it reminds us of a holiday brochure for a package holiday in Sharm el-Sheikh. Hence, the process of Islamisation in his new book Submission goes surprisingly smoothly, while the titular process has the subtle flavour of baklava.
Stakes higher than jazz itself
Are musical geniuses raised in the way shown in the movie Whiplash? What sort of price, emotionally, do we have to pay in order to prefect our craft? Michał Urbaniak defends Chazelle’s portrayal of the music world, seeing in it a hint of truth about jazz: “A single note can be worth the human life which produces it”.
The metaphysics of a whisperer-shaman. A farewell to Tadeusz Konwicki.
[caption id="attachment_639" align="aligncenter" width="547"] Photo: Krzysztof Dubiel[/caption] First, there was his novel A Minor Apocalypse, which in the 1990s became part of set reading lists…
Nobody at Polin believes in miracles
Karolina Wigura: After November the 11th, a certain anecdote proved popular on Polish Facebook: three nationalists are walking down a Warsaw street, talking about recent construction projects in the capital….
Interdimensional journey, or from the library to the cinema and back. Around Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar
Fold a page in two and puncture it with a pencil – two points separated from each other by the width of the paper have thus been connected with each other in a higher dimension. This classic analogy (two…
The art of being a stone
How to express the experience of collective violence and trauma without falling into excessive compassion or patterns of propaganda? Sergey Loznitsa, director of „Maidan” calls for filmmakers facing such moments to remain a bit disengaged.
Polish Design: in the Middle of
Polish design. Either in the middle or in between of art and industry, craft and technology, East and West. Relentlessly searching its own identity. Can it be found? Is another exhibition of the Polish design scene’s achievements going to help it self-define itself?
OuLiPo, or literary International
Piotr Kieżun: Have you written your daily portion of poetry? Jacques Jouet: Not yet. I already have an idea, but I haven’t transferred it on paper yet. I am asking this for I know that 22 years ago…
Love and apocalypse. About “Jesus ridiculed” by Leszek Kołakowski
Why was Kołakowski’s essay not published when the author was still alive? Perhaps he did not fancy the prophetic disguise assumed there. After all, the philosopher was the embodiment of many paradoxes: a sceptic defending religion, but not sharing the religious hopes, a liberal protecting the freedom of spiritual quest, and a humanist standing up for the texts of our culture – including the New Testament.
Gender and dinosaurs. How will we eat in the future?
„Hello meat lovers, hello vegetarians! We need to talk about the future of meat.” We invite you then to Bistro-In-Vitro. Knitting needles and bloody yarns, incubators for growing steaks, meat paint for the youngest and a dinosaur’s leg at a discount are waiting for us on a white tablecloth.
The temptation of anti-politics. About David Ost’s book
„One of the most dangerous effects of the forty five years of communist totalitarianism is the cult of anti-politics ingrained in the Polish society”, warned a young journalist in the early years of…
A time of great boredom. Review of the film The City 44
We had approached The City 44, at least up to a point, with high hopes, reinforced by the first trailers. We had been waiting long for such a film about the uprising: properly funded, modern in form,…
The confusions of young Linklater. Boyhood as a Bildungsroman
Richard Linklater has got his viewers accustomed to bold cinematic experiments with long intervals between them. The trilogy Before Sunrise, filmed intermittently over 20 years, is an example not only of…
Sarajevo in historical aporia. 100 years after Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand
Anniversaries are often bad omen for historians. Luxurious publications and sometimes widely attended ceremonies do seldom contribute to genuine historical thinking. At best some kind of international dialogue emerges.
Unusually pale virtuoso
Jim Jarmusch’s newest film made film critics fear, that Jim was infected with an embarrassing disease for an artist. The disease of wanting to be liked by a broad audience. Proof? He made a film about vampires at the apogee of the epidemic of this specific genre.
Their street, our street. About Marcin Latałło’s „My street”.
The story told by Marcin Latałło’s documentary „My street” („Moja ulica”) is so simple and trivial, that even emblematic. It can be understood as a pars pro toto of the Polish modern history, its little, marginal part which summarizes the whole
Aesthetically about remnants
The life of Hansen undoubtedly is a rewarding material for an interesting book (such as Zaczyn…) or a film. The biography of a utopian, idealist, who wants to make people happy through implementation of his architectural doctrine but is disastrously misunderstood by his fellow citizens, will probably always move to sentimentality or irritation (depending on the ideological leanings and personal preferences). On one of the photographs illustrating Zaczyn… you can see an aged, 82-year-old…
Children of the Transformation
On the subject of Paulina Wilk’s book “Special characters” They can remember Poland under communism, yet they have been raised and educated in a new reality. Not yet old, but no longer young. Who…
A Messiah in the hell of Louisiana. About “True Detective”
According to the Kabbalistic teaching, to complete his work the messiah must descend to the very bottom of hell. He must find himself in the depths of the Sitra Achara, the dark and evil side of power ruled by…
Hamlet on the battlefield
Actually it is quite likely I interviewed a man who was trying to kill me a few weeks earlier. And when I met him, I realized that despite the bad actions he may have committed, he was not a bad man. He believes in something that may not be true, and he may be misguided, but he is not evil. – Olly Lambert in conversation with Grzegorz Brzozowski.
Ida raising tempers. A review of the discussions around Pawel Pawlikowski’s film
Only now that it has garnered numerous reviews, positive and negative, can Ida be considered a complete work of filmic art. Along with the responses it has generated, it paints a map of flashpoints in the…
Appropriating liberalism and other symptoms of infantile disorder of rightism
The new book by Andrzej Walicki, an eminent historian of political thought, bears a telling title: “From the communist project to the neoliberal utopia”. It is both a diagnosis and an indictment.
We probably all remember from school – and if not from school then either from Stefan Żeromski’s Ashes or its film adaptation by Andrzej Wajda – the story of Polish legions who after the Treaty of Campo Formio were handed on to the Austrians by the treacherous French commanders. However, there was one Napoleonic treason far more emotionally loaded and further deepening the disappointment of the Polish people with the legendary emperor.
The terrorism of love
Watching the feature film debut from Katarzyna Klimkiewicz, I couldn’t help drawing parallels to Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Similarly to the American director’s masterpiece, this also is a story of a war, shown in the confines of offices and meeting rooms. The movie tells a story of an ambitious woman working in the tough world of men. The only difference is the object of the hunt: in the first movie they were trying to catch bin Laden, here, the love is the terrorist.
Invasion of mum snatchers
The notion that comic books are for children has prevailed in Poland for a long time and has a long and rich life before it. Of course it is a cliché, a hackneyed opinion popular outside the community of people competent enough to speak on that matter.
Where is the puzzle?
Głos Pana [Master’s Voice] is remindful of a knotted tangle. It is rather impossible to say what this novel is actually about – about a search for an alien civilisation, about cultural mythology,…
Lilies on screen
Marking the beginning of a new century, Kamil Polak, the director of The Lost Town of Świteź, decided to adapt a ballad from Adam Mickiewicz into an animated motion picture. The project could have easily been a dull repetition of popular, archaic themes and of an out-dated tradition – but instead Polak created a masterpiece.
The anatomy of trivial evil. On Burning Bush mini-series
The new creation from Agnieszka Holland, the mini-series Burning Bush, although being a story about and made in collaboration with the Czech, seems to be a complete antithesis of all that we generally consider to be Czech. The astonished audience in the Czech Republic, much like the one in Poland, has been watching in disbelief as the difficult history of socialism, which traditionally has been reserved for such artistic forms as pastiche and comedy (usually served with a dose of good old Czech…
Independent Polish Woman
Women’s Day (Polish title: Dzień kobiet) is on the one hand a cinema that is socially engaged in the struggle against unjust capitalism, on the other – a beautiful story about the power of female solidarity. For her feature-length debut, Maria Sadowska, a Polish singer and director, chose a story of a provincial, strong woman who from her own mistakes learns to fight for her rights. Fear not, this is not a feministic morality play, but rather a universal story of the poor and the oppressed….
Employees against owners of the state
I suspect that nobody sane would be tempted to read texts arguing with the works of Adam Schaff or Rudolf Bahro (and such passages can be found in Walka klas w bezklasowej Polsce [Class struggle in class-free Poland]). But there are several reasons which make it worthwhile to reach for the book written by Sławomir Magala, currently professor of management at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam. The author wrote it thirty years ago especially for the American reader, with the purpose of…
Harmony is an illusion
So early in the year it is difficult to escape from summings-up. Of course, we must omit opinions as to which books should be regarded as the best and which as the worst must be omitted, for a genuine assessment of the works is hardly detectable in them, as there are usually mere popularity rankings.
A Tale of Two Cities. William Klein + Daido Moriyama exhibition in Tate Modern.
The exhibition William Klein + Davido Moriyama in Tate Modern is a retrospective on the work of two outstanding photographers: the American William Klein (who has been living and working in Europe for many years now) and Daido Moriyama from Japan. The exhibition’s curator Simon Baker aims at showing the relationship between Klein, who has had a huge influence on post-war Japanese photography and Moriyama who says to have drawn much of his inspiration from Klein’s photographic work.
The fable in Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’
Not for a second did I feel bored watching the first part of ‘The Hobbit’ saga. And, quite frankly, I don’t give a hoot about all the complaints made by a group of some fussy grumblers, who, for one reason or the other, were not quite as taken with Peter Jackson’s fairy tale of a movie as I was. I personally feel that my expectations have been fully met.
Love that is friendship. Alina Szapocznikow in letters
„Unfamiliarity – this is the only source of an eternal relationship between people”, said André Breton and he was probably right. But if so, what is love? Instead of going into it, let’s take evasive action: let’s assume that it is a purely linguistic problem – there are many different things which we call “love” and unfortunately it produces misunderstandings. The correspondence between Alina Szapocznikow (1926-1973) and Ryszard Stanisławski (1921-2000) is a study of a…
The paradoxes of Polish capitalism. About Marta Bucholc’s book Konserwatywna utopia kapitalizmu
Living in today’s free, democratic and free-market Poland, we are still living under the shadow of transition, we still argue about its course and consequences, we debate on the superiority of capitalist economy over planned economy, we complain about the rat race, social inequalisties, corruption, fraudulent businesspeople. It is a familiar world, which we try to grasp every day.
To be liked by the great shadows
How do we categorise Barbara Toruńczyk’s book Żywe cienie [Living shadows]? At first sight it is a collection of portraits of well-known Polish writers and intellectuals, who the author had the privilege to meet along her intellectual path. As many as thirteen out of sixteen texts are silhouettes of the most important figures of 20th-century Polish culture.
How the Curtain was drawn.
“When people ask me if you can find anything good to say about Lenin, I say yes, you can, but I see no reason why you would want to” – an interview with Anne Applebaum, American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author on her new book, “Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956”, nominated for this year’s National Book Award.