The Czech New Wave continues to belch up unseen wonders, the latest of which for us is this 1972 Jaromil Jires lament, based on the prison diaries of Maruska Kuderikova, a Moravian girl who worked with the Czech resistance and was eventually caught, jailed, and executed by the Nazis. Her story is thick with ironiesa single shot of drunken Nazis teasing a leashed fox speaks volumesbut never as much as when the 22-year-old must beg to have her ashes delivered to her family, or when she works through her 99-day sentence by painting eyes on tin soldiers. Ricocheting from The Joke's anti-totalitarian satire to the loopy Grimm-ness of Valerie and Her Week of Wonders to this howl of injustice, Jires nevertheless maintains a distinctive style fragmented, impressionistic, de-dramatized, stuffed with crass Czech gusto, but always hyper-real and soaked in '70s weather. (Jan Curik's long-lensed cinematography is a pre-digital achievement in desaturated grays, greens, and taupes.) As Kuderikova, Magda V lets her big, stunned eyes do the talking. No extras.
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