Weather matters in a sometimes hilarious black comedy from the Czech Republic. Writer-director Petr Zelenka’s Knoflíkáři (best film, director, screenplay, Czech Lions; best film, Czech critics) weaves together various episodes all but one of which take place in Prague on a single day, August 6, 1995; the only episode in black and white is set fifty years earlier in Kokura, Japan. Incessant rain prompts a man who once visited California to teach a few fellow Japanese in a café how to swear, resulting in a chorus of “Fucking weather!” Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force Captain Robert Lewis is swearing up a storm up in the sky in the Enola Gay; the rain results in a redirected course. Kokura, the original target, is spared as the U.S. plane takes off for Hiroshima—and the rest is history.
A radio broadcast’s half-century commemoration of that fateful day links the episodes, which even includes an interview of Lewis once a group of schoolchildren conjure his ghost during a séance(!). The episodes interconnect, with reappearing, that is to say, overlapping characters. The funniest episode gives the film its title; it refers to the practice of inserting dentures in one’s buttocks and by maneuvering and anal contractions “biting off” buttons from sofas, the back seat of taxicabs, etc.(!!) The episodes also contain tragic matter; the interconnections do not convey coincidence as much as they do the very real close connections we all share in the grip of time. As a result of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at least the Western world inherited a dreadful legacy, the event’s moral, ethical and emotional fall-out.
This is an uneven piece of work, rich here, thin there. For me, rather than rounding out and reaching some conclusion, the film just peters out.
B(U)Y THE BOOK
MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.