Welcome to Kinoblog, intended as a repository for things that I dig up in my ongoing research into central and eastern European cinema that I haven’t managed to turn into professional commissions. In fact, they’ll often be by-products of background research for interviews and overviews where I have to gloss over individual titles in a few dozen words (if that).
It’s built on foundations laid by two earlier, somewhat over-specialised blogs - FilmJournal’s Closely Watched DVDs and an unpublished earlier effort from 2004 (also called Kinoblog), and I’ll be porting all the pieces I wrote for them over here in due course. The problem I had with them was that their focus (on Czech and Soviet cinema, respectively) was too narrow, and I was watching loads of great films, especially from Hungary, Poland and the former Yugoslavia, that didn’t fit the template. Also, I was insanely over-zealous when it came to things like credits and links, meaning that near-complete pieces would be bogged down in fact-checking and formatting hell when there was no particularly good reason not to publish them.
So hopefully it’s third time lucky - and this time, I’ll be mixing more formal reviews with instant snapshots of whatever I happen to be watching, so updates should be a lot more frequent than they’ve been in the past. As you’ll see from the list of pieces I’ve written for Sight & Sound magazine over the past five years, my current viewing is overwhelmingly biased towards Central and Eastern European cinema - and although this is doubtless partly self-fulfilling (since I’ve written the majority of pieces about the region’s cinema in the last few years, I tend to get first refusal on future commissions), there’s little doubt that a large and increasing part of my regular film diet is from that part of the world, helped enormously by the surprisingly large number of DVD releases with English subtitles.
So why ‘Kinoblog’? Well, ‘Kino’ means ‘cinema’ in most of the region’s languages, including Czech, Polish, Russian and the various languages of the former Yugoslavia (Hungarian is the major exception, but that’s always been a law unto itself), so it seemed appropriate.
About the Posts
If a post begins with filmographic data, then it’s a proper review that’s been composed over some time and backed up with research. If it doesn’t, then the chances are I’ve knocked it out in a matter of minutes off the top of my head. Sometimes it might be expanded into a full review, most times it won’t - though I’ll happily do requests.
About the Author
(switching into the third person…)
Michael Brooke is the Screenonline Curator at the BFI National Archive, and one of the creators of Screenonline, the BFI’s online multimedia encyclopaedia of British film and television history. He is also its most prolific contributor, having produced major surveys covering Alan Bennett, Gainsborough Melodrama, Launder & Gilliat, Ken Russell on Television, Shakespeare on Screen and much more.
He regularly writes for Sight & Sound magazine, specialising in British and Eastern European cinema (examples: a feature on the great British comic actor Alastair Sim, and reviews of Djamshed Usmonov’s To Get To Heaven First You Have To Die, Cristi Puiu’s The Death of Mr Lazarescu and Second Run’s DVDs of Věra Chytilová’s Daisies and Juraj Herz’ The Cremator). He has also contributed to many other publications both online (DVD Times) and off (Vertigo), is on the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Studies in Eastern European Cinema, and served on the New Polish Cinema jury of the 9th Era New Horizons film festival in Wrocław, Poland.
He has also worked as a freelance DVD producer, for BFI DVD Publishing. The two-disc collection The Quay Brothers: The Short Films 1979-2003, restored and remastered in collaboration with the filmmakers, was released in November 2006 to widespread acclaim (DVD Times, DVD Outsider, DVD Beaver, Channel 4, Evening Standard). The even more ambitious triple-disc DVD box Jan Švankmajer: The Complete Short Films was released in June 2007 to a plethora of five-star raves (The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Scotsman, DVD Times, DVD Outsider, Eye For Film, Netribution). Michael can be heard discussing this release and Švankmajer’s work in general on a MovieMail podcast.
He can be contacted through firstname.lastname@example.org.