Czech Film - Houston Wed & Thur ONLY
Mazany Filip - Private eye gets fresh look via Czech eyes
April 26, 2005, 9:28PM
WORLDFEST FILM REVIEW
Private eye gets fresh look via Czech eyesBy ROBERTA MACINNIS
Copyright 2005 Houston ChronicleRESOURCES
MAZANÝ FILIP (SMART PHILIP)
Cast: Tomás Hanák, Vilma Cibulková, Pavel Liska
Director-screenwriter: Vaclav Marhoul
Now showing: 7:15 tonight, 5 p.m. Thursday at Meyer Park 16 Theatre, 4730 W. Bellfort. In Czech with English subtitles
Not rated: contains stylized violence and adult situations
Running time: 95 minutes
THE title character in Mazaný Filip (Smart Philip) makes some pretty stupid mistakes for a private eye in 1930s Los Angeles.
But that's part of the charm of this film from the Czech Republic, an often witty spoof of noir detective stories. Philip Marlowe is simply an honest working guy who can't get a break.
Marlowe describes himself as "unlikely to succeed as a ballet dancer with a wooden leg after four years on a road gang" before a man hires him to find his missing twin brother, a chauffeur for a known gangster. It's among the first of an endless stream of metaphors so florid they're laugh-out-loud funny.
Other times, Marlowe's observations lend an unexpected poignancy, such as when he says he has trouble finding work because he's already come to the conclusion that "everything in this town is stolen" or that the sky is "filled with stars who know enough to stay away from Hollywood."
Tomás Hanák as the title character is especially good: distractingly handsome, world-weary yet idealistic and seemingly amused by the events that unfold as he tries to find the missing twin.
Vilma Cibulková is less effective as the film's femme fatale. Her body's hot enough, but she fails to convey the irresistibility that would drive a man wild.
The stylized sets are fun, but director Vaclav Marhoul should have cut an extended scene in which two policemen break into a song-and-dance routine.
This film works better when it pokes gently, rather than skewers.