KRZYK: LOSING CONTROL (SXSW2024) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Krzyk: Losing Control, is a trippy, tense feature about one woman’s devolution from sanity triggered by layered traumatic experiences. The word Krzyk means scream in Polish, and is an apt name for a film that is often visceral for the viewer, and feels at once like a languid dreamscape and a tightly coiled spring about to explode. The film is unusual in that it doesn’t make the female protagonist particularly sympathetic. This is welcome in a world where women dealing with child loss are so often treated with kid gloves, or presented as martyrs and saints.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK December 8, 2023: THE PEASANTS

Polish author Wladyslaw Reymont’s epic, Nobel Prize-winning novel gets an appropriately impressive adaptation in Dorota Kobiela (DK) and Hugh Welchman’s The Peasants. Lushly and gorgeously animated using the same painstaking rotoscope process the duo and their talented crew earned accolades for with 2017’s Loving Vincent, the lovingly crafted film follows the inhabitants of a Polish farming village over the course of a year at the turn of the 20th century. Watching The Peasants is like seeing an Impressionist painting come to life.

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FUGUE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The film begins as a dishevelled Alicja wanders dazed along train tracks, approaching a busy station where she promptly hitches up her skirt, squats, and pisses on the train platform for all to see. Two years later we find she has been institutionalised, suffering from the dissociative “fugue” of the film’s title, where a protective doctor decides to put her on television to see if they can discover her identity. It works, and overnight Alicja discovers that she is a woman called Kinga with a husband, young child and extended family. Returning to her original home as she waits for an identity card, Alicja’s past slowly returns to her as she discovers what led to her curious predicament.

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EO – Review by Diane Carson

EO reveals life from a Sardinian donkey’s perspective. Individuals reveal who they are—values, priorities, empathy—in their interaction with animals. The brilliant, minimalist French director Robert Bresson documented exactly this in his 1966 Au Hasard, Balthazar, documenting the donkey Balthazar’s life. Updating the content, Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski reassesses this world through the donkey EO’s point of view as he experiences his life’s joys and tragedies.

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THE BALCONY MOVIE – Review by Diane Carson

One clever documentarian, Polish director Paweł Łoziński, turned his pandemic isolation into a fascinating, revealing interaction with neighbors in The Balcony Movie. Shooting entirely from his second floor balcony in Warsaw, over two-and-half years, Łoziński asks questions and listens to random passers-by who agree to talk with him, and some don’t but are still included.

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HOLD TIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Set in a Warsaw suburb, the Netflix series Hold Tight just might be encouraging the viewers with that title because it periodically becomes confusing. The through line, however, remains clear. Teenage Adam has disappeared after his best friend Igor died under mysterious circumstances. Adam’s mother Anna drives the narrative with her single-minded determination to find him.

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NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Malgorzata Szumowska and Michal Englert’s slyly pretty fable in which an interloper’s healing frees members of a miserable community from their various repressions and discontents, is slyly funny–no belly laughs, just an accumulation of weird and unexpected digressions that offset the film’s pervasive atmosphere of isolation, loneliness and slow suffocation by social conventions.

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SWEAT – Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

Few films have pictured the Social Media phenomenon as empathically as Sweat. Thanks to a powerhouse performance by Magdalena Koleśnik, Sweatallows for a very nuanced and kind look at a profession that has been demonized and mocked. Watching movies about people staring at their phones is usually about as stimulating as watching grass grow. This is not the case here. Koleśnik’s energy is contagious.

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SWEAT – Review by Carol Cling

Decked out in bright bubblegum pink, her blonde ponytail bouncing as energetically as her lithe legs and toned arms, Sylwia (Magdalena Kolesnik) shimmers in the spotlight, radiating energy to and affection for the legions of Insta fans she calls “my loves.” But it’s when Sweat looks beneath the shiny-happy sheen of Sylwia’s Instagram-programmed existence that things get interesting.

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CORPUS CHRISTI – Review by Carol Cling

Corpus Christi explores questions of faith, repentance and redemption, establishing a moral ambiguity that creates undeniable dramatic tension. In this Oscar-nominated film, Polish director Jan Komasa and screenwriter Mateusz Pacewicz ably contrast the protagonist’s two worlds — violent detention center vs. deceptively placid town — and, by extension, the duality of soulful-eyed character.

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