Finally polished off the set. The highlight for me was the previously unseen (no way was I subjecting myself to the Facets disc) the Joke
, which is handily the best thing here, expertly balancing the humor, politics, and freewheeling narrative nature that catapults the best entries in this movement justly into cinematic history. I'd already seen Daisies
and the Party and the Guests
, so their respective values were already a given. I also quite enjoyed the slender trifles offered by Capricious Summer
, which gives us a fairly gentle sex comedy and presents barely salacious vulgarities with the lightest of touches. Faring worse was Return of the Prodigal Son
, which stands (negatively) in contrast with every other Czech New Wave film I've seen in and outside of this box. Uncharacteristically dour and drab, this staid picture culminates in a jaw-dropping exhibition of idiocy that led to audible sighs of frustration. But it's still not the worst film here, an honor bestowed upon the very compilation film upon which the box was structured. Like nearly all European portmanteau films, it is awful. The only segment which works (for a bit, at least) is "the Restaurant the World," with its floating, transferring narrative and genuine sense of play amidst the depressing truths underlying the story. But contrary to the essay writer, I found nothing "beautiful" about the jarring and unnecessary quasi-slow motion employed in that segment's finale, and the attempt at visual metaphors makes for a clumsy end to a venture that really had no narrative thrust to speak of anyways. Of course, I'll take the ending to that segment over the ending of the actual film, though-- wow, a little kid pissing into the camera, what a kooky bunch of filmmakin' radicals!