Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Martin Scorsese Presents: To Kill This Love
a rotten political system corrupt the youth? It certainly will not do Magda and
Andrzej any favors. The two attractive
lovers should have a bright future ahead of them, but there is no space for
either of them in Communist Poland’s universities. The critical strategies of
Socialist Realism are turned back on the Socialist state in Janusz Morgenstern’s
To Kill This Love, which screens tonight
as a handpicked selection of Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, hosted by the Film
Society of Lincoln Center.
was always Magda’s ambition to be a doctor, but it appears she will have to
settle for being an orderly. Andrzej never had a calling per se, nor does he
have a job of any sort. He would seem to have a future of manual labor to look
forward to (if he is lucky), but Andrzej is not the settling type. Hoping to
move into their own place, Magda and Andrzej will scrimp as best they can and
put the arm on their problematic parents. However, Andrzej will take short cuts
that could poison their relationship.
a way, Magda and Andrzej are the Polish Jack and Diane—two kids growing up the
best that they can. It will not work out. Like a good Socialist Realist,
Morgenstern is not exactly subtle in his approach. Frankly, it is a small miracle To Kill did not give some poor
apparatchik a cerebral hemorrhage. The
contrast between the grim prospects faced by Polish young people tossed aside
by the state’s educational system and the constant reports of Neil Armstrong’s
moon landing (a pinnacle of Yankee scientific achievement) is hard to miss.
even more heavy-handed are the more impressionistic interludes featuring a
corrupt night watchman (who fences the goods he is supposed to protect) and his
faithful-to-a-fault canine companion. When he chooses graft over love an entire
class of petty Party hacks stand indicted.
frame of To Kill screams 1972, in
both good and bad ways. One can readily detect the influence of the youth
culture and the tripped out psychedelic cinema of the age, as well as old
school proletarian social drama. Maybe
Andrzej Malec’s namesake would have been considered a catch at the time, but
his charms have not aged well. While it is hard to fault his mercurial
performance, the character’s dubious motivations and self-destructive
tendencies are a quite a load to labor under. In contrast, Jadwiga
Jankowska-Cieslak brings an innocent yet passionate presence, like an early
(straighter) forerunner to Adèle Exarchopoulos in Blue is the Warmest Color.
Kill is clearly a product
of its time. For an intimate story of an affair on the outs, it ranges pretty
far and wide. Still, despite its stylistic eccentricities, it retains
considerable bite. Recommended for dedicated connoisseurs of Polish cinema, To Kill this Love screens tonight (2/15)
at the Walter Reade, as part of the Martin
Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema, which will continue on its
thirty city North American tour following it New York run.
Labels: Martin Scorsese Presents, Polish Films