Tag Archives: Czech

Kochaj i tańcz (Love And Dance): Movie Review

If you live in Poland, and you’re not somewhere in a remote village without a TV or the internet (like Colin), you can’t have missed the huge marketing campaign for the new movie “Kochaj i tańcz”. The billboards, the TV ads, the trams and buses, the posters on the Warsaw underground, trailers on street screens etc. TVN, one of the largest Polish media corporations has outdone itself to promote its newest creation.

The film, as the title suggests, is a mix of romantic (or rather melodramatic) comedy with dance. The dance part inspired by the recent wave of – very popular – television dance shows such as “Strictly Come Dancing” (featuring stars performing ballroom), and “So You Think You Can Dance” devoted to contemporary forms of dance.

Fast-paced trailers take viewers by surprise and promise some good entertainment. However, mixed (if not mostly negative) reviews make the viewer conscious of what to expect.

I expected it to be another episode in a wave of films (like “Nigdy w życiu”, “Lejdis”) that recreate the manner and style of Polish tv soap operas. Superficial, and distorting the Polish reality making it more fairytale than it usually is.

Bruce Parramore, the director, was granted a lot of trust with such a huge project. He is well known for directing commercials and music videos. This is his debut with film, where he transferred his method of working with storyboards. And as some members of the crew commented astonished, the whole script, scene by scene, was drawn before first shot was made.

There seems to be a good balance between the time devoted to dance, and to the storyline. The plot develops naturally. It is not very complicated – but this is not something such a film needs. It is simple but well written and natural. There are two protagonists in love, and there are some obstacles in their way. The sub-plot involves the older generation and their reconciliation. The world here is very simplified and stereotyped. There are clear distinctions between good and bad, the interesting and the boring. The film doesn’t go beyond its genre, doesn’t discover new grounds. Don’t expect this film to make you think. But it does entertain, and it will make you hum and shake your feet as you sit.

The music (mainly by Polish band Afromental) surprises with how well it fits certain scenes. Together with some dance, great set design, professional camera shots – the film does not fail to impress. In terms of quality it could be compared to “Love Actually” only more up-beat.

I was particularly positively surprised with the acting, about which several film critics have complained. Mateusz Damięcki and Izabela Miko – playing the leading characters – are natural in their roles. Mrs Miko, who is a stunningly beautiful and successful Polish actress in Hollywood, makes a great debut in a Polish production, while her partner Mr Damięcki surprises with his toned body and impressive dancing. Sometimes, however, they are overshadowed by the performances of the supporting characters: especially Katarzyna Herman, who plays a haughty (but secretly good-natured) partner of an acclaimed choreographer. It is also worth mentioning the performance of Katarzyna Figura (the Mother), Jacek Koman (choreographer; well known actor in Australia where he has lived since 1982) and Anna Bosak (over-ambitious dancer).

Several dance scenes in the film represent different styles. A few group performances feature the popular dancers already known to the Polish viewers from televison.

To sum up: This film is not art, it is a product. As such it is well prepared and served. It is few steps ahead of the “Nigdy w życiu” likes. I would say it is the best film of its genre made in Poland (or even Europe) in the noughties. It did very well at the box office attracting nearly 400,000 viewers in its first weekend.  It is also a hint to the direction of Polish cinema. Unlike other Central-European schools (like the Czech) which seem to prefer intimate and quirky films Polish cinema seems to be going big, bold and mainstream.

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A Guide To Songs About Poland, Heavily YouTube Loaded

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There was a time I envied Hungary a bit of a lot:

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Jethro Tull, my band #1 to take to an inhabited tropical island (or wherever my pension is going to take me) gave out a song “Budapest”. Before the ultimate tearing the Iron Curtain off and away, and today, too, to a certain extent, the national pride of Poland had longed for any honourable mentions in Western production. So that we’d know the civilised world knows we’re not a Russian colony with no history or ambitions.

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We would idolise people feeding our starving egos – like Marino Marini, a medium-popular Italian songster with a one-timer in heavily-accented Polish (but damn, the song is so sentimentally kitsch it’s beautiful):

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Or like Classix Nouveaux. (They’ll never never come out of my mobile). The problem with bands like CN was they would requite the love Poles felt for them — but were not recognised too worldly.

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And Poles would probably remind an English or German foreigner some internationally famous tunes may be of Polish origin.

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Or that Polish Roman Polański directed a movie about Polish Władysław Szpilman playing Polish Fryderyk Szopen. If music should not be enough:

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Or that Gazebo would sing “I like Chopin” [but did he mean Chopin vodka?].

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Or that Midnight Oil sing about Kościuszko, though Aussies misspell and mispronounce him and often think he’s just a mount.

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Or we would speak of Charles Bronson, who was Polish (oh really?), and a harmonica virtuoso.

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Or we would be happy Maidens want us to play pray with them:

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Or that they visit our airports.

That they visit our cities.

That they play our football.

That they see our people.

That they attend our weddings.

So that they could say “Na zdrowie”:

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Or that U2 made a Solidarnosc-inspired song (for which Poles would pay back waving their shirts the other time).

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Or Kim Wilde? Long before she was covered in Cambodia by Apoptygma Berzerk, Polish “affectionate people” had covered her with flowers and kisses and kisses and improvised dancing, live, probably to thank her she came to us capable of saying “Cześć” or “Dziękuję”:

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Hey, we even liked strangers when their admiration came through imitation. For example: Vox, the first Polish boys-will-be-boys-band, singing about aloha-sunny-banana way of life when it was grey and communist outside. The song has been kicking arse, amen. And it still kicks, even if in a Czech remake meant for a TV commercial.

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Our hearts soar when someone such as Eddie Vedder speaks Polish (even if it’s read, and it’s B16 Polish more than Polish Polish).

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Yes, our depression could be low.

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So, what more?

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This premiere-league metal musician took Danzig for his alias. (And Danzig is German for Gdańsk. Hurrah!)

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And then there’s Christopher Poland. (What a nice surname!)

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Any common denominator? Considering Chris got himself into metal albums, and that I found heavy bands like these Danes, it seems the natural way you would musically relate to Poland would be loud and clearly hard.

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Type O Negative is a first class metal band, and its core-man is Peter Steele, born Ratajczyk. Just when one could boast his Polish surname, one would learn Peter sings about faeces, or women that cheat on him, that he posed for Playgirl, that he was clinically treated for depression, or that he converted from atheism to Catholicism. Let’s be confused: is it good PR, or not?

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There are exports, too (to boost up our pride aware of them admiring our guys).

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Vader – the best (selling) thing in music from Poland (*).
I still recall the thrill of the time I saw
the first Polish words on MTVfirst Polish words on MTV, a Polish ballet dancer, a Polish power plant, lots of first class loudness in their video. On the other hand, Vader is not a Polish name, the band IS good (while goodness is international) and singing in English. [And how! Uttering loud lines “We await the silent empire” and “We do believe in silence” is clear irony and wit, and they will discuss stuff like for-snobs-only Pynchonisms, with unprecedented speed (try to say “You’d better never antagonize the horn” in 0.8 second).]

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(*) Since that etude thing Chopin wrote. Yes, that borrowing from a prelude by Birkin. The lending to Beyond The Sea. Yes, the song in American…Or’s it English?…French?…Or Corsican French?…Or French-English on Japanese tv? — It’s all one, anyway.
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Anyway. Jethro Tull went on with “Budapest” for 10 minutes long and more. This could hurt the national pride of a non-Hungarian. Despite the fact Poles and Hungarians have been considered “brethren”. (We don’t speak our brother’s language, we don’t see one another too often, we hardly shared borders. Yes, warm feelings are feasible.)

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Granted, Jethro Tull mentions Poland alright (“the beat of distant Africa or a Polish factory town”) but that’s not quite what I’d expect. I mean — where’s a song entitled “Warsaw”?

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Well, I’ll tell you where.

Joy Division.
Porcupine Tree.
David Bowie (with Brian Eno).

Plus Tangerine Dream (with Poland) ?
Plus Niemen in French?

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Not often a place earns a Babylonian god’s song with German title, English words, Swedish voice.
Not always a madam’s cul in that place gets a mention in a French song, Belgian voice, first verse.
Not bad. Not bad at all.

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PS But now I am going to listen to Laibach. Whose “words are for you, Poland”, says the third sentence, and the beginning rings the bell in its unmistakenly Polish way.

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I can’t dance, I can’t sing.

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10 things that make Polish people laugh

THERE’S MORE LIKE THIS ON OUR NEW SITE – POLANDIAN.COM

Sensitive content warning: this post contains sexual references and swearing, which some people may find offensive.

There are some things that make everybody laugh regardless of their cultural background. There are, however, some differences in sense of humour between nations. Even in the English-speaking world, some things that are dead serious to Americans seem incredibly funny to the British (and probably vice-versa).
Here’s a subjective list of things that are guaranteed to make Poles laugh:

1. The Czech language

The thought that a language might make people laugh may sound surprising, but it’s true. The Czech language sounds ridiculously funny to the Polish ear. Although both languages derive from a common core and have many similarities they evolved for centuries on their own. Most Czech words sound to Poles like diminutives of their own words, pronounced with an awkward accent, which could be likened to dwarf-speak. What is more, many similar-looking and sounding words have completely different meanings. Simple notices about bus departures at a bus station in the Czech Republic can make a Polish person laugh like crazy; the Czech word for ‘departures’ means ‘faeces’ in Polish. ‘Laska’ (Czech for love) is Polish for ‘blow job.’ I could go on like this for a long time. Anything, which would be normally regarded as funny – when it has the Czech factor added – leads to Poles going completely mental.

An example of Czech language:

and again, with modern audio:

2. Foreign people speaking Polish

Foreign people speaking Polish, or foreign people generally, used to be a very rare thing in Poland. Hearing them speaking Polish is always entertaining. If you’re a foreigner and you want to make the atmosphere more relaxed, say something in Polish (and try to squeeze in some mistakes). Poles will be impressed by your effort to learn their language, that many people regard as difficult (but don’t be fooled, it’s pretty easy).

Example of foreign people speaking Polish:

3. Politics

Political jokes and political satire during communist times were a way of coping with the annoyances of the system. And there was always something to laugh about. There was a saying that Poland was “the merriest barrack in the communist camp.” This approach to politics continues today, and it has to be acknowledged that Polish politicians basically write scripts for comedians with their irrational acts.

Polish politics meets The Muppets

4. Poland

This might come as a surprise, but Poles love to laugh at themselves (but they don’t like it when others do so) and everything that is substandard, weird, awkward, broken, or baldly organised in this country.

5. Westerners

The way that westerners don’t understand some things about Polish reality makes many people laugh (and others sigh). Westerners used to be particularly funny in the past, when Polish reality was more complicated, and they were thought to be unable to comprehend it. The lost foreigner used to be a regular feature in Polish comedy films and series.

6. Hong Kong

Look how people laugh when you mention Hong Kong

7. Peasant people

Years of communism and appreciating the working class and peasant people didn’t really work on the Poles. Peasant people or unqualified workers are commonly associated with inarticulate language, bad grammar, poor vocabulary, tasteless demeanour and occasional problems with personal hygiene. They are a constant source of fun for urban and middle-class Poles. They are mercilessly mocked by the whole pop-culture.
(Stereo)typical peasant person (here fragments of a genuine local election advert):

Poles are in fact huge snobs.

8. Lack of general knowledge

As stated above, Polish people have a tendency towards snobishness. This, combined with an education system focused on feeding students general knowledge basics from all disciplines, makes Polish people sensitive to signs of lack there-of. Not knowing the capital of Bolivia, the main river in Russia, or the exact date of the battle of Racławice, can put you to shame. Be warned. Have ways of escaping questions of this kind in advance. Or you might become a laughing stock.

9. Mohair berets.

Mohair Berets

In the Polish army different beret colours stand for different departments in the army. Mohair berets stand for the elderly ladies (babcias), followers of a local powerful conservative ultra/pseudo-Catholic televangelist leader. Mohair berets is their favourite headgear – and the faithfulness and discipline they they display resembles that of the army – hence the name. Mohair berets are guardians of the social order as they see it. Although in popular belief mohair berets are perceived as blind-to-argument, overwhelmed by all sorts of conspiracy theories, uneducated, aggressive, and xenophobic.

Cabaret mocking mohair berets:

Mohair beret lady arguing her political views calls a street seller speaking for news tv a ‘bitch’:

10. Psychodelic Christian music-videos

Here is the original, aired on a Catholic show on Polish public tv with a genuine Catholic bishop. “Christian is dancing”
Remake
Cocaine-LSD remix
Then came mathematics remake “ Parabolas are dancing”


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