Wymyk (Courage) 2011
Starring: Łukasz Simlat, Robert Więckiewicz, Gabriela Muskała
Directed by: Greg Zgliński
Greg Zgliński’s approach to cinema has earned him comparisons with illustrious cinéastes in a relatively short period of time. The francophone press in Switzerland have evoked post-Nouvelle Vogue film directors such as André Téchiné and Claude Miller to describe his 2004 film Tout un Hiver sans Feu (One Long Winter without Fire). Zgliński has also done well in his native country. He returned to Poland from Zurich in order to study in Łódź, where he crossed paths with Krzysztof Kieślowski. Film critic Tadeusz Sobolewski has compared Zgliński to the Polish maestro and Wymyk encompasses a Kieślowski-esque moral redemption in a tale of failed revenge. Despite a couple of scenes set in a provincial church, Zgliński’s cinema is more secular than Kieślowski’s oeuvre. There is no room for spiritual serendipity or biblical references in his latest film. Wymyk attracted many awards in Gdynia, partly thanks to its screenplay, which is based on a story by Cezary Harasimowicz that was painstakingly worked and reworked over the course of five years by Janusz Margański. Wymyk deals with the cruel story of a domineering brother (Robert Więckiewicz) who refuses to help his kin (Łukasz Simlat) in one of the most cowardly fight scenes in Polish cinema. As is the case in most European films, the revenge is not fully accomplished and is only really a pretext to allow Zgliński to reveal the helplessness of his protagonists. Więckiewicz, at his best here, exudes the raging impotence of his character without compromise.
Z Miłości (Out of Love) 2011
Starring: Marta Nieradkiewicz, Daniel Olbrychski, Elżbieta Gruca, Anna Ilczuk
Directed by: Anna Jadowska
The adult film industry in Poland is relatively insignificant compared to some of its near neighbours. The Slovakian company Bel Ami has made it big in gay porn, while Budapest has become the logistical hub for many of the wettest and wildest dreams brought to the screen. It is astonishing, therefore, that Anna Jadowska has braved the Polish taboo of pornography in her feature Z Miłości. A refined Daniel Olbrychski plays an unusual role as a small-scale porn producer who does his best to make ends meet by filming gangbangs and gonzo movies set in derelict buildings. But the film’s central figures are three women who allegorically represent the three ages of the porn actress. The debutant, Ewelyna (Marta Nieradkiewicz), is cajoled by her husband into making some easy money by having sex with him in front of a camera. Joanna (Anna Ilczuk) is a middle-aged, hardcore drinker dejected by the routine of daily copulation. The senior actress, Ela (Elżbieta Gruca), runs herself ragged trying to cling on to an industry where her wrinkles are unwanted. In terms of visual style, Jadowska’s feature is an example of virtuous prudery, with all the explicit close-ups blurred. Z Miłości will never be a must-see erotic movie, not least because of its prissy aftertaste, but it never smells of bigotry. The last sequence is a conventional ode to the ennui of the Polish provinces.
Rysopis (Identification Marks: Unknown) 1964
Starring: Jerzy Skolimowski, Elżbieta Czyżewska
Directed by: Jerzy Skolimowski
During his second year at the Łódź Film School a young, retired boxer with literary ambitions started hunting for enough film stock to direct his first, full-length feature. He eventually managed to cut together 29 sequences for the project in straitened circumstances before receiving his diploma. Skolimowski also asked his then wife, actress Elżbieta Czyżewska, to play three different characters in the movie. The director himself plays the main character, disconsolate student Andrej Leszczyć. Rysopis follows Leszczyć as he wanders the streets of Łódź, killing a few hours before reporting for military service. After revising the screenplay for Andrzej Wajda’s cult-movie Niewinni Czarodzieje (Innocent Sorcerers,1960) and co-penning Roman Polanski’s thriller Nóż w Wodzie (Knife in the Water, 1962), Skolimowski finally gave himself the chance to do things his own way. The director follows himself with a wavering camera in a juvenile quest for nothing that has a strong Godard-esque feel. His debut film remains one of the most radical statements of individualism ever expressed in Polish cinema.