Vratné lahve (2007), directed by Jan Sverák, written by Zdenek Sverák, was shown in the U.S. with the title “Empties.” The title derives from a second “career,” undertaken late in life, by the protagonist Josef (Zdenek Sverák). Josef resigns from his position as a teacher and takes a job accepting returned glass bottles at a supermarket. Complications ensue. Josef isn’t exactly an ideal worker, but he does establish a rapport with his fellow employees and with some of the customers.
Josef is married, but he and his wife are tired of each other. (Incidentally, his wife is played by Daniela Kolárová, who looks like the Czech Hellen Mirren.) Josef and his wife are both contemplating adultery, although that’s not as easy for them as it might sound.
“Empties” is a comedy, but a comedy with a sad and bitter undertone. Everyone is looking for love, romance, and understanding, but mostly they’re looking in the wrong places. Still, the film is worth seeing, especially because of the wonderful acting by Zdenek Sverák, who was outstanding in the film “Kolya” ten years ago, and is equally outstanding in “Empties.”
Incidentally, the identical names of the actor/writer and director are not coincidental–they are father and son. That must lead to some interesting moments on the set.
STARRING LIBUSKA SAFRANKOVA! (Three wishes for Cinderella)
A wonderful fairytale about looking for love, defeating evil and learning some valuable moral lessons on the way. The story begins with the young Prince, who is left in charge of the castle and his three sisters. During the night he has a visitation and before he knows it, all his sisters are married off and gone away, and the Prince is faced with the King’s wraths and charged with a quest. Although the special effects may seem a bit dated, they in no way detract from the enjoyment of this movie. It is full of humor and more dramatic than the very popular and lovely Three Wishes for Cinderella. (The beautiful Czech actress Libuše Šafránková is in both movies.)
The movie is truly beautiful. Czech fairy tale story’s like this have been unfortunately out of producing. Same happen to all eastern Europe co – productions like this. All kids and generations from mid 1950 to present kid generations in Europe loving this Czech fairy tale movies. Princ a Vecernice..actually made 1979 was especially scored with beautiful music from the great, outstanding, master – tastefully Czech composer Svatopluk Havelka. Special the string charts on his film music score are truly jazz influenced in harmony style, sound and orchestration. The sound remind me to actual productions found on popular scores from Argentine composer – arranger Jorge Calandrelli. The film had beautiful costume outfits and living most from good – humorous dialogues and acting and even not overwhelming – bigger than live special effects. The movie is a must for lovers of Czech – European fairy tale movies and European fairy tale stories!
Film about black market & crime activity in Prague of 80’s (but still pretty cool)
This film was banned by Communists, but ironically got to the black market as a cam pirate copy, so there was no person who missed this film.
The title ‘Bony a Klid’ is an intentional pun on ‘Bonnie and Clyde’, as this movie depicts attractive young criminals who are meant to be latter-day Czech versions of Bonnie and Clyde. (By the way, I wish that more people knew the *facts* about Bonnie and Clyde, instead of the Faye Dunaway mystique. The real Bonnie and Clyde were Depression-era punks who didn’t have the guts to hold up banks, so they robbed small businesses (such as groceries and gas stations) that were just barely getting by. At one point, Bonnie and Clyde couldn’t even steal a car, so they made their getaway on stolen mules. Over their entire career, Bonnie and Clyde stole less money than Jesse James hauled from one bank robbery six decades earlier, without adjusting for inflation. End of digression.)
Free translation of the title ‘Bony a Klid’ translates as ‘Boons and Rest’. The criminals in this movie want to accumulate enough ‘boons’ (see below) and stolen goods so that they can take it easy (the ‘rest’).
Martin is an innocent lad from small-town Mlada Boleslav (The cradle of SKODA auto) who comes to big-city Prague, hoping to exchange his krona for deutschemarks so that he can visit Germany. A local spiv named Robert obliges Martin, but at an unfair exchange rate. When Martin finds out he was rooked, he plans revenge on Robert … but then decides to join Robert’s gang instead. From this point, most of the rest of the film recounts the gang’s activities in various black-market schemes and wide-boy scams. The gang buy, sell and steal foreign goods at dishonest exchange rates, and they also deal in ‘boons’: these are tariff coupons permitting the purchase of rationed foreign goods. The caper scenes are shot and edited to make the gang look a bunch of sexy young outlaws and bouncing Czechs.