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Czech film Case for the New Hangman in Press

Review of Czech classic Case for the New Hangman in press.

Village Voice

Meanwhile, the Prague Spring artifact Case for the New Hangman (1969) by Pavel Juráček is in a class by itself. Exhibiting a surrealism equal to that of Chytilová or Němec but somehow more elastic in its disregard for conventional cinematic space, Hangman is a loose adaptation of Gulliver’s Travels that blends the fanciful and the Kafkaesque with such insouciance you’d think it were being invented on the spot. In fact, it is a meticulously constructed deep-dive into modernist absurdity, the sort of film that seems both sui generis and somehow intellectually inevitable. To argue that it has a thing or two to say about the current resurgence of global fascism might be a bit of a stretch. But Hangman is certainly a study in governance by misdirection, tribalism, and, above all, chaos.

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Unseen Films

Prague was the home of Franz Kafka, but the old Communist regime was never really sure what to make of him. Apparently, they were even less enthusiastic about Jonathan Swift, judging from the lifetime filmmaking ban they imposed on Pavel Juracek after they got a load of his Kafka-influenced dystopian riff on Gulliver’s Travels. Of course, there is no better recommendation for a film than the crude use of censorial force. Poor Lemuel Gulliver is in for quite an excursion down the rabbit hole in Juracek’s freshly restored Case for the New Hangman, which screens during this year’s Panorama Europe at MoMI.

There is a lot going on in New Hangman, but it is hard to really pin down the plot. Frankly, that is far too prosaic a concept for this Gulliver’s misadventures. After his car breaks down, largely out of its own subversive willfulness, Gulliver is welcomed to Balnibarbi by some ghosts from his past. Once he breaks out of his own personal Hell, he quickly runs afoul of the local authorities by talking on a Monday, their designated silent day of the week.

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Broadway World

Panorama Europe 2018, the tenth edition of the essential festival of new and vital European cinema, co-presented by Museum of the Moving Image and the members of EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture), includes fiction and documentary works that present a portrait of contemporary Europe during a period of tremendous flux. The festival, which launched in 2009 by Czech Center New York, continues to give New Yorkers an eclectic overview of the current European film scene.

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