Monday, February 24, 2014

Jan Němec's A Report on the Party and Guests (1966)

I wrote this brief description of Jan Němec's A Report on the Party and Guests for the Cinefamily repertory theater, who hosted a 35mm screening of the film on February 19th, 2014.

Nowhere near as clinical as its title suggests, A Report on the Party and Guests is instead a surreal, playfully subversive allegory by one of the great filmic rebels from the Czech New Wave’s insurrectionist posse. Depicting the curious submission of a group of picnicking citizens to a clan of wandering authority figures, Jan Němec’s most notorious work laces its parable of communist command with biting humor and a fantastical sense of cinematic foreplay, shifting moment by moment from absurdist comedy to stark realism, and back again. “All you care about is having fun,” one character ironically declares as a pastoral luncheon turns into a grotesque celebration of totalitarianism run amok—and yet this dark comedy never fully submits to pessimism, nor abandons its critique of the society from which it emanated. Filmed starkly in black­-and-white with an invigoratingly free approach to editing and narrative, A Report on the Party and Guests is at once audacious and approachable, consummate and uproarious. Dir. Jan Němec, 1966, 35mm, 71 min. [Cinefamily]

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