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Richard J. Brzostek (New England, USA)
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Tricks ( Sztuczki )
Tricks ( Sztuczki )
Dvd ~ Damian Ul
Offered by DaaVeeDee-uk
Price: £27.69

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The tricks they perform are not mischievous but are small deeds that influence fate, 5 Sep 2009
This review is from: Tricks ( Sztuczki ) (DVD)
Sztuczki (Tricks) is a delightful movie about a pair of young siblings - a brother and sister who live with their mother in a small town in Poland. Stefek is just a kid but he is quite clever; he admires his older sister Elka who has a guy friend that drives a motorcycle. The tricks they perform are not mischievous but are small deeds that influence fate, and their results are quite magical.

We see the pair repeat their daily routines and we learn about their lives. Elka shows his brother that by intending something to happen and making a small sacrifice, the results can materialize. She does this by placing a hamburger in a bag near a trashcan and says it will find its way into the trash bin, which it does although not directly. It is amusing seeing them do such things and bribe fate.

Elka has ambitions for what she would like to achieve; she would like to learn Italian and get a job with an Italian company. Elka's guy friend has the ambition of having their friendship turn into something more. Stefek is quite interested in finding his father who walked out on them, so he spends his free time looking at the guys at the train station, comparing them to an old photo with scribble marks all over it. When he sees a man whom he thinks is his father, his greatest trick will be to influence things so he returns to his mother.

A little luck never hurts too. For those not familiar with the superstition that is well know in Poland, there is a scene where Stefek is holding his thumbs in his fists. He is doing this for luck (which is same idea as crossing one's fingers for luck).

Sztuczki is directed by Andrzej Jakimowski. I would say this movie falls somewhere between a comedy and a feel good drama. His earlier (and first) film, Zmruz Oczy, has a similar overall feeling and earned him recognition winning many awards. I would say his second film outdid his prior work. Although this movie might not appeal to those looking for a movie with violence or sex (because it doesn't show any of this), it is just right for everyone else.


Hexer [DVD] [2002] [US Import]
Hexer [DVD] [2002] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Michal Zebrowski

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining Polish fantasy film, 23 Aug 2009
Wiedzmin (The Hexer) is a Polish film based on the fantasy novels of Andrzej Sapkowski. The main character is Geralt, the White Wolf (as played by Michal Zebrowski, who also starred in "With Fire and Sword"/"Ogniem i Mieczem" and even played a short part in Polanski's "The Pianist") who slays monsters that harm people, but leaves the peaceful ones alone. The film contains several short adventures that lead up to a larger story.

Some people claim the film was not as good as the novels it was based on, but this is often the case with film adaptations. As far as I am concerned, the film was fairly entertaining. It was worlds better than "Dungeons & Dragons" (2000), but it was no "Lord of the Rings" (2002).

Directed by Marek Brodzki, Wiedzmin is 129 minutes in length. The film is spoken in Polish, with English subtitles. Wiedzmin was made in 2001 and I would say it is rated "R" by American standards. For swordfights, monsters, and dragons, Wiedzmin is a lot of fun.


50 Years Of The Cuban Revolution - (Mr Bongo Films) [4xDVD BOXSET]
50 Years Of The Cuban Revolution - (Mr Bongo Films) [4xDVD BOXSET]
Dvd ~ Various Artists
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £24.24

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These films take us into the lives of the people who were revolutionaries or where influenced by them, 15 Aug 2009
The 50 Years of the Cuban Revolution box set has four films that all have their own style and feel but all are about the Cuban revolution. Three of the movies are from the 1960s with the revolution being a recent event and one from much more recently. They take us into the lives of the people who were revolutionaries or where influenced by them and teach us a little history along the way.

I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) is the earliest film in the set and isn't made by a Cuban director but rather by Mikhail Kalatozov, who is Russian. The camera work is the most memorable feature of this movie as it floats and moves as a spirit would showing us four stories about life in Cuba. One can easily imagine, quite correctly, that there is anti-American sentiment in this feature but I wouldn't let that keep you away from enjoying this artistic work.

Memories of Under Development, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea in 1968, shows us a narrative of the events in a man's life and how he got to where he is today. Many things influence his life and living through the Cuban revolution certainly plays a big part. This film is very funny if you can appreciate sarcastic humor. At times it shows the revolution is less flattering ways so it attempts to be neutral in its portrayal of it.

Also from 1968, director Humberto Solas gives us the three part story Lucia. All of the stories involve a woman named Lucia but over different time periods (1865, 1932, and 196..). Each story is a love story but the kind that isn't a happy one. The stories take us through history and show us how revolutions have influenced the lives of women in Cuba. One message that really impressed me was that although things may be a little different in time, they also seem to stay the same.

The last film in the set is more modern and is in color. Strawberries and Chocolate, directed by Tomas Gutierrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabio, is from 1994. It is the story of communist young man who befriends a gay man who is against communism. They are polar opposites but manage to develop a great friendship. It shows the new generation of Cubans lives on under the system created so many years earlier.

If you enjoy Cuban cinema or are just discovering it, this set is great entertainment that shows us different stories about life in Cuba. The artistic value of these films is sure to be appreciated by those who enjoy world cinema.


Old Fairy Tale: When the Sun Was God [DVD] [2003] [US Import]
Old Fairy Tale: When the Sun Was God [DVD] [2003] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Jerzy Hoffman
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £11.13

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic film about an old Polish legend, 15 Aug 2009
The Old Fairy Tale: When the Sun Was God (Stara Basn: Kiedy Slonce Bylo Bogiem) may not be the best title as far as telling us what the movie is about other than it will have a pagan element. Jerzy Hoffman, who brought us the trilogy from the 17th century, presents us with one of Poland's oldest legends on film -- the story of Popiel. This a story from Poland's prehistory pagan time; a story that has been told and re-told, and Hoffman does a fantastic retelling of the story on film.

The story could be summarized by saying Popiel is an evil and oppressive ruler that uses force unjustly on neighboring people. The people unit and make an effort to overthrow him. Of course, there is a love story in there too with titillating magical spells to help that effort along.

The movie is well done -- from the eerie music to the fierce battles. There are also rituals and pagan dances that left me in awe thinking this was how Poland was like back then. We also see the Vikings, who battle the pre-history Poles. Oddly, some of the Vikings carry Draco standards resembling the type Sarmatian horsemen carried some 500 years earlier while in Roman service. The battle scenes are comparable in realistic special effects and sheer brutality with other historical films such as Braveheart.

About half of the cast from Hoffman's Ogniem i Mieczem star in Stara Basn. Michal Zebrowski plays a lead role again and you are sure to recognize several other faces. Of those not in Ogniem i Mieczem is Malgorzata Foremniak, who plays Popiel's wife and is one of my favorite Polish actresses.

Stara Basn is an exceptional Polish film that has it all with action, battles, romance and interesting costumes. The movie also has its cultural aspect, as it is based on a classic Polish legend. If you enjoy historical movies you have to watch this one.


Saragossa Manuscript [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Saragossa Manuscript [DVD] [1965] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Zbigniew Cybulski

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a sophisticated film brimming with mystical and occult elements, 15 Aug 2009
People have loved storytelling since the beginning of time. Stories that captivate us, stories that give us chills, stories that excite us, and stories that make us think are all great, but some stories do all of these such as The Saragossa Manuscript (Rekopis znaleziony w Saragossie). The Saragossa Manuscript is quite possibly one of the best Polish films ever made and is one of my favorites. Based on the novel written by Jan Potocki, this classic Polish movie directed by Wojciech Has is not straightforward, but rather resembles a complicated tapestry.

During the Napoleonic wars in Spain, two soldiers from opposing sides become fascinated by the same object. A French officer finds a manuscript on the second floor of a tavern, but is soon captured by the Spanish. The Spaniard seeing the importance of the tome translates it to the Frenchman who is unable to read the book as it is written in Spanish. The book describes the adventures of one of the Spaniard's ancestors, Alfonse Van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski). Humorously, when the Spanish troops tell their commander "we are being surrounded" he only tells them "close the door, you are letting in a draft."

Alfonse Van Worden is trying to pass the Sierra Morena Mountains of Spain in the 18th century on his way to Madrid. But his passage is no simple task, as ghosts, gypsies and inquisitors complicate his voyage. At the inn cared for by people too afraid to spend the night there themselves, Van Worden is taken to a basement by a mysterious woman. He meets two beautiful Moorish princesses that make him drink from a chalice made from a human skull. He wakes up on the hillside near two hanging men with many skulls strewn about the ground.

When Van Worden wakes up, he makes his best effort to continue to Madrid, but ends up meeting a number of people and is always delayed. The people he meets tell him their story, and the people in the story tell their story also. Like a nesting egg, the movie becomes a story in a story in a story. The stories interlink and overlap, each filling us in with details the others where not aware of. While it nearly resembles a horror with creepy ghosts and ghouls, the story is also amusing and funny with curious tales of exploits and adventures. The Saragossa Manuscript also has en erotic side with gorgeous women at every turn. While parts of the story resemble a horror, the rest is like a romance or even a comedy. The Saragossa Manuscript is a sophisticated film brimming with mystical and occult elements.


Katyn [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Katyn [DVD] [2007] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Andrzej Chyra
Offered by supermart_usa
Price: £10.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tragic story that was not allowed to be told earlier because of suppressed truth and political pressure, 15 Aug 2009
If the Poles didn't have it bad enough by having by having nearly the entire German army blitzkrieg it's Western border on September 1, 1939, the Soviet army then invaded from the East sixteen days later. Katyn presents a history lesson that most people never heard about: the mass murder of tens of thousands of Polish officers by the Russians in 1940. While watching this film you may wonder if the Russians mistreated Poland worse than the Germans did during World War II (which is a debate in itself).

The Germans found the massacre site in 1943 and announced it to the Poles, hoping to use it for propaganda against Russia. The Russians denied the accusation and then staged it to appear the Germans were behind the butchery. Katyn doesn't tell the story in a chronological way, but we see it unfold slowly; we see both the men at war and the women at home who love them. The wives, mothers and daughters of the Polish officers spend so much time waiting and wondering what happened to them. Even when the war ends the problems of the war do not - they spill into the decades that follow.

Andrzej Wajda is Poland's best-known director and has been making films for over fifty years. I think it is great Wajda is still making films because his recent work is opening the door to younger audiences who primarily watch contemporary movies. He has long ago established himself as being a brilliant director and Katyn reflects his years of experience and talent.

Katyn is a story that is strongly based on history and is the first film about the Soviet massacre of nearly 22,000 Polish officers. I viewed Katyn with someone who lived through this time and he confirmed that even the smallest details were right on and the way it is presented is how it was. It is a tragic story that was not allowed to be told earlier because of suppressed truth and political pressure. This movie is not just for people that like historical dramas but is one that may be of interest to everyone.


Goddess (Devi) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1960) [DVD]
Goddess (Devi) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1960) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Chhabi Biswas
Price: £9.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film that explores tradition, religious beliefs, and assuming the role of a god, 9 Aug 2009
Devi (The Goddess) is a film set in India over a century ago that explores tradition, religious beliefs, and assuming the role of a god. A young woman named Dayamoyee leads a simple life as the wife of Umaprasad who is finishing his studies to be a position to become even wealthier. She cares for her father-in-law, Kalikinkar Roy, who adores her for helping him every time he calls her. Because Dayamoyee is so caring and Kalikinkar no longer has a wife, he callers her mother. Kalikinkar is deeply religious and prays to the Hindu goddess, mother Kali, but one day dreams both mothers are the same. He believes Dayamoyee is an incarnation of the goddess Kali.

At first Dayamoyee is hesitant because she is torn between her old life and her potential new one. She is transformed from a position of servitude to one of power. But the new role is not without its difficulties. She enjoys the attention but is now treated as someone who is untouchable and all-powerful. Life as a goddess is not at all easy as it is a burden as well.

As all this happened when Umaprasad was away at school, when he returns he is quite horrified. He symbolizes the new generation, which has different beliefs. To him, the line between religion and superstition has been crossed. Umaprasad tries to reason with her and his father but doesn't have an easy time. In effect we have conflict with the new generation with the old generation (or the son and the father) over religious traditions.

Those less familiar with India may find this movie to be especially exotic because it portrays a vibrant culture and different way of life. The interesting story is made spellbinding by the captivating music. If you enjoy world cinema Devi is worth checking out.


I am Cuba (Soy Cuba) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1968) [2xDVD BOXSET]
I am Cuba (Soy Cuba) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1968) [2xDVD BOXSET]
Dvd ~ Mikhail Kalatozov
Price: £14.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie captures the spirit of Cuba and the hardships it endured, 1 Aug 2009
I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) is an amazing film that shows us four stories that portray life in Cuba. Before and after each story, a female narrator tells us some thoughts about Cuba and unforgettably says, "I am Cuba" with regard to the story about to be or just presented. As a country, Cuba didn't have an easy time with oppressors and poverty that shaped its people. The movie captures the spirit of Cuba and the hardships it endured.

The movie has one of the best and captivating openings I ever saw. In addition to the stories being interesting, the camera work is remarkable and contributes to the metaphor of capturing the spirit of Cuba. The camera smoothly floats without bounds like a spirit around the vibrant scene. In addition to the great opening, the cameras continue to impress and float spirit-like periodically. The movie flows with artistic beauty and places us in a trance between the sights and sounds (as the music is very much part of the culture itself).

All of the stories have an element of anti-American sentiment, which shouldn't be a surprise. Regardless of one's own view of communism the movie allows us to learn about the people and culture of Cuba. The first two stories are more about the injustices and abuses of power that come with capitalism; the last two stories are about events that shape revolutionaries and how they are trying to right the injustices. All in all, I am Cuba is captivating and is sure to please those who enjoy artistic world cinema.


I am Cuba (Soy Cuba) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1968) [DVD]
I am Cuba (Soy Cuba) - (Mr Bongo Films) (1968) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mikhail Kalatozov
Price: £14.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The movie captures the spirit of Cuba and the hardships it endured, 1 Aug 2009
I Am Cuba (Soy Cuba) is an amazing film that shows us four stories that portray life in Cuba. Before and after each story, a female narrator tells us some thoughts about Cuba and unforgettably says, "I am Cuba" with regard to the story about to be or just presented. As a country, Cuba didn't have an easy time with oppressors and poverty that shaped its people. The movie captures the spirit of Cuba and the hardships it endured.

The movie has one of the best and captivating openings I ever saw. In addition to the stories being interesting, the camera work is remarkable and contributes to the metaphor of capturing the spirit of Cuba. The camera smoothly floats without bounds like a spirit around the vibrant scene. In addition to the great opening, the cameras continue to impress and float spirit-like periodically. The movie flows with artistic beauty and places us in a trance between the sights and sounds (as the music is very much part of the culture itself).

All of the stories have an element of anti-American sentiment, which shouldn't be a surprise. Regardless of one's own view of communism the movie allows us to learn about the people and culture of Cuba. The first two stories are more about the injustices and abuses of power that come with capitalism; the last two stories are about events that shape revolutionaries and how they are trying to right the injustices. All in all, I am Cuba is captivating and is sure to please those who enjoy artistic world cinema.


Man of Iron - (Mr Bongo Films) (1981) [DVD]
Man of Iron - (Mr Bongo Films) (1981) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Andrzej Wajda
Price: £9.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film about the Solidarity movement, 5 July 2009
Man of Iron (Czlowiek z Zelaza) is the sequel to Andrzej Wajda's Man of Marble. Much like Man of Marble, which consists of an unraveling story that is unfolded by a series of flashbacks told by various characters, this film follows a similar format. This time, a reporter named Winkel has the task of unraveling the story at the urging of government agents who want him to find dirt on Maciej Tomczyk (Jerzy Radziwilowicz), a key player of Solidarity movement.

Although the characters of the film are fictitious, it is based on historical events. As Man of Marble recounts events of the 1950s to 1970s, Man of Iron covers the time of the 1970s to 1980s. Essentially, Man of Iron is the story of how the government attempts to suppress the steelworkers' strike. In the context of the story we learn about the Police State that existed in the early 1980s in Poland and the Solidarity movement that helped topple communism. I also have to add, Man of Iron stands alone well and it isn't necessary to watch Man of Marble to enjoy it.

For those who saw Man of Marble this film will be even more interesting as it resolves the questions left unanswered. Man of Iron has several of the same leading actors (such as Krystyna Janda). Furthermore, a young Boguslaw Linda, who later became one of the most popular and highest paid Polish actors in the 1990s-2000s, also plays a part in Man of Iron. This early character is quite a contrast to the "though guy" roles he is most known for and which made him famous. Also of interest is that Lech Walesa, who is practically synonymous with the Solidarity movement, appears as himself in this movie.

Andrzej Wajda is probably one of the most famous Polish directors of all time. His films are often based on great works of literature or portray important historical events. Unquestionably, Man of Iron fits in with the later showing us a key event of great importance to Polish history from the early 1980s. Wajda's films are all worth watching.


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