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Wednesday, February 18, 2009
PIFF film # 8 - Karamazovs
I think it was around the time that an elderly audience member started yelling back at the screen in Polish that I decided I should have stayed home to watch last week's episode of 30 Rock instead of going to see Karamazovs. This film from Czechoslovakia incorporates all the worst elements of art house cinema: it's too bleak for its own good, it's completely convinced it's brilliant and it includes way too much flabby middle-aged male nudity.
The film begins well enough. A group of actors descends upon a run-down factory to stage an unusual production of The Brothers Karamazov. They laugh and joke but once they arrive they become completely obsessed with pouring over Dostoevsky's words. What starts out as a decent comedy-drama immediately mutates into a meandering stage adaptation of the novel. The actor's various subplots established in the opening moments are all but forgotten and are never wrapped up. Karmazovs jumps the tracks fifteen minutes in and what follows is a cinematic wreck worthy of a serious industrial plant accident.
I've walked out of movies maybe twice in my life and the only thing that kept me from ditching Karamzovs was the fact that I would have had to trip over ten people to get to the aisle. Plus, I wanted to find out what was going to happen to the old Polish guy who wouldn't shut up. He finally pipped down after about ten minutes but the characters on screen? They kept prattling on. The film's only redeeming moment? When one of the actors decides to grab a puppet and engages in an amusing but snide mockery of Doltovesky's writing habits.
I get the movie. I understand that the actors become so immersed in their own pettiness and devotion to their craft, like the educated classes that came before them, that they do nothing to help out a struggling member of the proletariat in their midst. Nonetheless, I still think this one sucked.